Wrestling With Sports: On The Heat, Fandom & LeBron Brandon Caldwell June 21, 2013 Features, Sports 1 Comment It’s over. That’s what my body told itself when I woke up this morning. The NBA Finals, the most chaotic form of pure basketball in terms of screens, backdoor cuts, elbow jumpers, trick shots, unforgettable plays and moments of sheer theater are over. Yes, the Miami Heat are victorious and yes the Spurs shed their boring tag by delivering easily the most entertaining Finals from top to bottom possibly ever and powering up NBA 2K this summer will feel like a long move towards October when it all begins again. But it’s over. And here are three things I’ll take away from it. Michaels/Taker The best series of my life that wasn’t Bulls/Celtics in 2009 resembled more like insane theater from the works of WWE Creative than anything in these final two games. It reminded me of Michaels/Taker from WrestleMania 25 from storyline to surprises. We knew it would be great with the consistent presence (San Antonio of course draped in black) of success and eternal reverence up against a flashy squad whom many had considered the best (and maybe one of the best to ever do it). Game 6’s final chaotic minutes resembled Taker hitting that Tombstone Piledriver and believing that he had indeed finished off the Heartbreak Kid. Ray Allen’s game/season/LeBron legacy (pick a narrative) three tied the game and made the Spurs make the same face Taker made when Michaels kicked out. Unlike that thrilling conclusion, San Antonio didn’t escape with the title in hand to ride back to San Antonio and turn the Riverwalk into a massive Persian orgy from 300. No, not when the best player in the world resides on the other team and once more chose the Finals to unlock a gear we all believed he could get. But you can’t say that Game 6 wasn’t reminiscent of the most heart pounding, holy shit this kicked up seven notches match the WWE has produced in the past five years. I mean, a man we nicknamed JESUS said it wasn’t over until it was over. LeBron 4 MVPs, 2 NBA titles, 2 NBA Finals MVPs, 9-times an All-Star. LeBron isn’t competing with the physical nature of say a Carmelo or a KD. He’s battling basketball ghosts, skeptics, naysayers and whomever else that wants to discredit what he’s accomplished on a basketball court. Lil Wayne quotes on a podium be damned, the more effective statement to the media came during the actual celebration. “Get the f–k out of my face,” he told them, not in a disparaging sort of way but rather, please, for once let me enjoy this one moment. Every action he does becomes news whether he reads books, loses his headband or has an aversion to the paint at times and then flat out becomes Super Sayian inside of it in others. Dragonfly Jonez, easily the best follow on Twitter that doesn’t have hoes (his words) described Bron as basketball’s version of Floyd Mayweather. Sure, there’s a blemish or two – but LeBron knows he can pick his spots and get to a unanimous decision (a victory) without having to use brute force. Jump shots, the one thing we all said LeBron couldn’t do are like jabs to him now, fluid, effective and there’s no questioning his determination on defense by rebounding and playing up against the best player on the opposing team. This might sound like a LeBron gush piece but I admire greatness. Same way I’ve learned to see Kobe far beyond his off the court antics and for his basketball skill. I lambasted “The Decision”, joined in the fun a bit in 2011 and throughly enjoyed 2012. Now? Now I’ll just beat my chest and tell people to keep calm when it comes to LeBron. When you get to a point where they have you going against the ghosts, you’ve reached something. Fandom Let’s go back to Game 6 for a moment. I was at the gym on Tuesday night when Ray Allen’s game tying 3-point sent a literal shockwave throughout the building. Everyone stopped working out and began watching the game with as much intent as you wouldn’t believe. Then, out of nowhere – someone asks me, “Hey man, you rooting for the Spurs?” Before I continue, let me explain something. First and foremost, I’m a Rockets fan and a Texans fan. Then it spreads around to select players and teams. Once I heard about possibly making temporary allegiances with the San Antonio Spurs, I immediately felt like punching something. I calmly replied, “Hell no. I’m rooting for LeBron.” “But the Spurs are from Texas. Don’t you love Texas?” My eyebrow lifted into that classic People’s Eyebrow pose and said firmly, “State lines don’t matter.” If you grew up in the era of Rockets basketball that I did, then you have a growing hatred for the Spurs. You respect them, you tip your hat to their entire regime, how beautifully they play the game of basketball (boring my ass!) but you refuse to say you like them. You salivated when Hakeem Olajuwon gave David Robinson all the drugs in the world in Game 5 of the 1995 Western Conference Finals, the game Robinson dubbed “The Nightmare” but from 1999 on? The Spurs have kicked the Rockets ass to the tune of countless division titles and NBA titles. Again, you respect them – but you never like them. That’s like a Steelers fan switching allegiances to the Ravens just because they’re from the AFC and in the Super Bowl. Not happening. No Texas Longhorn fan is going to openly root for the Oklahoma Sooners in a big time bowl game, especially one for the National Championship. “But you share conferences, but you share pride,” is all bull. You’re not about to goad me into believing that I should root for the Spurs just because they happen to be two and a half hours down I-10 for me. It’s part of fan rules. You root for your college, you root for your hometown team and even the team you grew up watching with your father. You do not root for a team just because they’re from your state or conference. I’m not rooting for the Cowboys on some principle that the flag of the Lone Star sits proudly in Jerry World and in Reliant Stadium. No, just because you’re raised in a particular environment doesn’t mean you adhere to what goes on in other environments. My father didn’t have such allegiances or bleed Cowboy silver & blue but his best friend does. He’ll mutter “F–k the Texans” every day and twice on Sunday if need be. It’s not a state thing, it’s a team thing. And it’s one of the main rules of being a fan in the first place. 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