MIAMI (AP) — It all comes down to this.
Heroes are made, legacies are forged and hearts are broken in Game 7s of the NBA Finals. It’s a shame they don’t come around more often.
David Stern has spent 30 years as NBA commissioner, and he’s only been able to see the league’s ultimate event five times. The rareness of the one game, winner-take-all scenario is what makes it special. That certainly isn’t lost on Stern, who plans to retire in February and is watching his last finals as commissioner.
The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat took this year’s series to a Game 7 — the third one in the last nine years, a pattern that basketball enthusiasts hope will continue.
“To have two well-constructed and each, in their own way, fabled teams with playoff MVPs, with finals MVPs, certain Hall of Famers, seven championships among them, having had a great season,” Stern said Thursday afternoon, “it’s as good as it gets.”
Rare are the occasions where the season definitively comes down to its very last day. Senses are heightened. Stomachs are churning.
“You go through a long season and you’re not thinking today’s the last day,” said ESPN analyst Kurt Rambis, who played in two Game 7s with the Lakers in 1984 and ‘88. “That one, it is a real defining moment. There are a lot of emotions that you go through thinking about the what-ifs of you winning and what-ifs of you losing. You start thinking about everything you went through to get to that point. It’s clear that it’s over with after today.”
It’s as close as the NBA can get to the drama and stakes of the Super Bowl, and Stern has witnessed the celebration and the heartbreak up close.