There were too many blowouts for me to rate this championship series as a classic, but Games 6 and 7 represented the best of the NBA. I have covered this league since 1981, sat courtside for the Finals duels with Bird, Magic, Jordan, Charles, Stockton, Malone, Kobe, Shaq, etc., and these last two games were magical. This was compelling old-school basketball, with none of the flexing (see Dwight Howard) or nonsense that too often detracts from today's game. This was passing, shooting, defense, teamwork, unselfishness, major contributions from role players (Shane Battier) and emerging stars (Kawhi Leonard), and mostly, the greatness of future Hall of Famers LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Tim Duncan.
A few final thoughts:
* Duncan is 37 years old. Two years ago, he converts that two-footer (or the putback) over the smaller Battier that would have tied the game. He still finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and four steals - this, coming off his 30-point, 17-rebound performance in Game 6. Who does that at 37?
* Tony Parker's hamstring injury was probably far more serious than the Spurs let on. While LeBron deserves major credit for his defense, there is no way a healthy Parker goes scoreless in a seventh game if he's healthy.
* Despite bad knees, Wade always produces in the clutch.
* Manu Ginobili always produces in the post-game interview session.
* This enduring perception that LeBron should be punished for leaving Cleveland is beyond ridiculous. Yes, we all have soft spots for the superstars who begin and end their careers with the same franchise (Bird, Magic, Stockton, etc.), but go back and look at the Cleveland Cavaliers roster that reached the 2007 NBA Finals against these same Spurs. The Cavs had seven years to provide a supporting cast for LeBron. Seven years. That's on them.
* Interest in the Game 7 prompted owners of my corner restaurant to turn on the overhead television - for the first time since I've been buying salads-to-go for the past 15 years. Just guessing, but the TV ratings must be a records-buster.
* Kudos to Heat president Pat Riley (for continuing to put the players and coaches in place) and owner Micky Arison for celebrating David Stern during the post-game trophy presentation. As Arison noted, this is Stern's last championship series, and given the Commissioner's contributions to his league, this is a grand finale. Also, for those in Sacramento? Arison, who is a member of the finance/relocation committee, was an unwavering backer of keeping the Kings in town.