Unless this one also goes to OT, LeBron James and the Miami Heat are 48 minutes away from their second straight championship. The prospect of eradicating the demons that still haunt them from the 2011 Finals against the Mavs, as well as legitimizing their group decision to form the Big Three (the bare minimum was two championships) is too tantalizing for them to even let this one be close. I expect a 10-point win for the Heat against a demoralized Spurs squad. And yet, if there’s one team who can get up from a loss like the one they suffered in Game 6, it’s Popovich’s Spurs.
Against any other team in the league, the Spurs would have already been popping champagne by now. Against any other player but LeBron, they would have won Game 6. As much as the final minutes of that game seemed like doomsday for the Heat, the creeping feeling that LeBron couldn’t go down in such lackluster fashion never left. Ray Allen’s three was incredible, electric, amazing and still, not all that surprising. The narrative appears to be a freakishly strong force. The Heat seem destined to win this series.
How did the ball bounce just the right way on those two crucial rebounds, how did Kawhi miss that first free throw? The odds may say one thing or the other, but at some point you just have to accept that the narrative plays a role in all of this, and that LeBron’s second ring here in 2013 is simply history in the making. For many, the scripted, story-book ending is despicable. The hatred for LeBron and the Heat comes frothing at the mouth. And I don’t blame those people. Popular culture is over-saturated with super-heroes winning the day, with the alpha males getting the girl. For many, the last thing they want to see is this archetype invading the precious world of professional sports.
At the same time, the underdog may be one of America’s all-time favorite characters. The amazing thing about LeBron is his ability to handle the pressure of playing both roles. He’s the underdog in terms of living up to Jordan’s insane legacy and he’s also the favorite as he continues to fulfill the role of superhuman and best player alive. That’s what makes LeBron so intriguing, to me, and that’s what has me thinking there’s nothing he can’t handle at this specific moment in time — Game 7 ought to be a breeze after the season he just had. Only 48 minutes to go.