This past week I was in New York City for a conference. On Tuesday night the conference ended and there was a huge after party. We rented out the Sky Room bar/club, which was great, except there was only one TV and Game 6 of the NBA Finals was on.
At 9pm people started gathering around the TV, first just a few guys, then more and more people as the game went on. We were all about to witness one of the greatest basketball games I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately I had already had quite a few beers, so I don’t remember every little detail as I usually do during sporting events, but I do remember seeing incredible performances, a great comeback, feeling tremendous excitement and feeling that we were watching greatness.
I was one of maybe 4 or 5 people in the group of 20-30 rooting for the Heat to pull it off. I am not a natural Heat fan. I didn’t root for them to make the super team. I was not a fan of the Heat before the big three. I was born and raised in Northern California and my allegiances lie with the natural teams, the 49ers, Giants and Kings. If the Kings were playing the Heat in the Finals (laughable I know), then I would whole heartedly be pulling for my team from Sacramento. But they aren’t.
At some point last year, LeBron James took a leap. He improved his game, changing from one of the most talented players ever who was already a top 50 great, to a candidate for the most talented players ever to a surefire top 10 player ever. This is when I started becoming a Heat fan.
It’s not that I am a front runner. I don’t like the Yankees, can’t stand the Lakers despite living in Southern California for the past 8 years and don’t particularly like the Patriots, except Tom Brady, which plays into this whole thing.
The reason I want LeBron and the Heat to win, is because I want to experience true greatness. I think he has the potential to be the greatest player ever to play basketball. Popular opinion and stats, including many advanced stats have Michael Jordan as the greatest player ever, and I 100% agree with this right now. (Although one guy I was standing next to watching the game with the other night said Jordan was the best because he had “that look in his eye…” I’m not buying that reason for Jordan being the greatest.)
I was born in 1985. I barely remember Jordan’s first decade of basketball. In fact, the first game I can still remember watching of Jordan is when he came back to the NBA after baseball and was still wearing number 45. I do remember his last 3 peat, when he truly was the best player in the world, dominating offensively and defensively like no guard had ever done before. I’ve seen the highlights, watched some games on ESPN classic and read all about his triumphs. But I didn’t witness it, at least not the whole journey from star at UNC to the incredibly explosive player who dropped 63 in Boston during the playoffs biggest star in the world and winner of 6 championships. I only saw the final 3 championships and the shell of the player in Washington.
Like the Nike shirts, I want to Witness the greatest player of all time, from start to finish. I want to be 65 years old, look back and say, I got to see the greatest player of all time play; from the first time I saw him play on TV in high school dueling with a string bean named Aaron Afflalo, to his first ever NBA game in Sacramento, which I attended, through his decade of dominance through game 6 of these NBA Finals and another 7+ years of dominance I foresee. I want to remember it, all the details, the amazing chase down blocks, dagger threes and monster dunks.
This is why I’m rooting for LeBron James and the Heat tonight in Game 7. It is why I will be rooting for them next year too, or for LeBron wherever he plays. As long as he has a chance to be the greatest player of all time, I will be rooting for him to accomplish that. And since he still plays for the Heat, I want them to win their second consecutive title.