Back on the eve of Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals, The Hook went through a list of 11 myths surrounding the series: legacies, trends and all sorts of nonsense. Now, as Game 7 looms as the final stanza for the season, let's look at those myths one more time. Some don't really apply as they were more focused on the narrative of the series itself, but we'll address that.
1. In no way will Game 1 decide the series. Miami narrowly lost Game 1 at home. They will have an opportunity to win the series on Thursday. This has been a tightly contested series -- neither team has won two in a row. Clearly, while Game 1 was important (it was a game in a seven-game series), it did not decide anything. Both coaches have made major adjustments (including changes to the starting lineups) and we have real mystery as to how this thing is going to turn out.
2. This series will not determine whether the Spurs are a dynasty. As we noted two weeks ago, five titles over 15 years is less a dynasty than an indication of a really well-run franchise. This is the Spurs' first Finals since 2007. Dynasties don't miss five-straight Finals. But that doesn't take much away from a truly phenomenal run. Sustained excellence is more impressive than a shorter period of total dominance, in my book.
3. In no way does this series decide whether LeBron James is a legend, a true MVP, the G.O.A.T., a fraud, an underachiever, immortal or anything else. This has been a grossly popular narrative of late. LeBron has shown that he is a very good player (including a 32-point triple-double in Game 6), but he is also smack dab in the middle of his career. He has so much time to rack up more postseason success. Let Tony Parker or Tim Duncan serve as an example. These are the series that build legacies. Though LeBron has frequently struggled to break through San Antonio's defense, I think he's come off looking rather well. (His defense on Tony Parker has been a game-changer.) But in this binary sports world, Game 7 will tell us which way the dominant narrative on this one will go.
4. If Erik Spoelstra is outcoached, it does not mean he needs to be replaced. Spo has matched Gregg Popovich adjustment for adjustment. Heck, he has forced Pop into adjustments. The Spurs yanked Tiago Splitter quickly in Mike Miller's first start and turned to Manu Ginobili instead of Splitter in the next game. So Spoelstra isn't even getting outcoached by the best coach in the NBA!
5. There is absolutely no reason the NBA should want Miami to beat San Antonio for the title, so your conspiracy theories are better suited to Wikipedia talk pages for the Contra affair or Tupac. I'm not going to lie, though. It was great in a nostalgic way to see multiple people on Twitter claim the refs botched Game 6 in favor of the Heat. I mean, if you flipped teams in the third quarter, with San Antonio getting called for roughly a dozen fouls, you might have a case. But, you know, it was Miami getting called for all of those fouls. The cognitive dissonance is just amazing in some circles.
6. Nothing Tony Parker can do in the Finals will retroactively make it unfair that he didn't finish higher in the voting for the regular-season MVP award. This remains QFT. Parker has been alternately amazing and locked down. It usually depends on whether LeBron is guarding him or not. But the fact that we were discussing Danny Green as a potential Finals MVP on Monday made this myth sort of moot. No one is doing too much Parker boosting at this point.
7. Flopping does not foretell the doom of the NBA, does not indicate that either team does not deserve to be in the Finals, does not rot the integrity of the game, will not actually decide any game in the series or the series in total, is not remotely new, is not a rampant scourge, does not make the NBA unwatchable, is not solely practiced by the Spurs and Heat, and is really not nearly as much of a big deal as certain people make it. Thank the heavens flopping has not been a major issue in this series. Chris Bosh got fined for one exaggeration, but more importantly got jobbed out of a potentially legitimate foul on a Tim Duncan clear-out in Game 6, possibly because of the prior flop. The system sort of works. We don't have to talk about key moment flops. It is glorious. (An underrated part of the series has been how clean the extracurricular stuff has been: no technicals all series long, no harder-than-necessary fouls, just the one actionable foul, no major ref gaffes or questionable calls. Outside of the actual basketball, the Finals have been downright uneventful).
8. The referees do matter, but they really don't matter nearly as much as you think. Speak of the devil. Joey Crawford didn't do anything very Joey Crawford in Game 6, and the low-key Danny Crawford-Scott Foster-Monty McCutchen crew is handling Game 7. One thing to be noted: LeBron and Dwyane Wade aren't getting to the line much. That says two things: the Spurs are doing a superb job containing them on the perimeter, and the refs are letting players defend, which is how it ought to be.
9. Tim Duncan is a legend and the greatest power forward ever, period. Another championship 14 years after his first would be an amazing exclamation mark on his career. But losing in these Finals does nothing to diminish his legacy. I'm going to go ahead and say that Duncan's 30-17 performance in a Game 6 that very nearly won the Spurs a fifth title cinches up this point. Even if the Spurs lose on Thursday, Duncan has had an exemplary series (despite a couple off games) and is a credit to his field.
10. The Heat are not "the bad guys" here. Technically accurate: Heat fans are the bad guys.
11. Miami is not less deserving of a championship than any other city. Fandom is not a competition. Okay. I admit it. I was totally off the mark on this one. See above.