June 5, 2013 by Brandon Keller
An NBA season as inspiring and action packed as this deserved this Finals. A season that let us soak in the splendor of the Splash Brothers, be galvanized by the grit and grind of the Grizzlies, delight in the dynamic drives in Denver, praise the punishing power of the Pacers, root for the rousing Rockets and believe in the bewildering Bulls could only end in Heat vs. Spurs. Two teams with completely different paths to greatness meeting on the biggest possible stage.
In one corner, you have the speed and athleticism of the Miami Heat and LeBron James. Formed from the fiery depths of near nationwide hate, the Heat used these flames (and a few burns they earned along the way) to mold themselves into a modern-day juggernaut, playing a small ball three-point shooting blitzkrieg attack that has spawned numerous copycats throughout the entirety of the league. At the epicenter of this revolution is LeBron, a 6-8, 260 lb swiss army knife of a player who has sliced through the entirety of the NBA on the way to his fourth MVP in five seasons.
Squaring off in the other corner, you have the intelligence and savvy of the San Antonio Spurs and Tim Duncan. The Spurs have successfully combined the undisputed greatness of Duncan, Parker, Ginóbili and Popovich with the familiarity that comes from over a decade of consistent excellence to create a well-oiled, win spouting machine. Tagged as boring since the early aughts, the Spurs of 2013 are anything but, using a spread pick-and-roll attack and ferocious ball movement centered on the three stars to create an offense that generates open three’s and inviting driving lanes for an army of more than capable role players.
Yet even with two vastly different blueprints, the end result is not all that different. When these two teams are at their best, the ball dances around the perimeter with equal parts savagery and elegance, spurned by the inherently unselfish nature of both LeBron and Duncan. Midrange jump-shots are eschewed for the greater good of the team, hoping that the extra pass can result in the best shot possible, taking as much care in the process as the result. These two teams epitomize the modern NBA, encompassing the recent past and near future to create an intriguing present.
And what a present this series is to all NBA fans, being given the opportunity to watch these two teams compete in a seven game battle of skill and smarts. Only one team will leave the Finals a champion, but every single fan gets to walk away a winner because they get to witness the artistry of basketball at its apex.