Game 6 of the NBA Finals was one of the best played NBA Finals games ever, and that's not being hyperbolic. It featured runs, counter-runs, and a hyperventilation-causing finish with Ray Allen drilling a game-tying three to stave off elimination and send the game into overtime, where the Miami Heat would force a Game 7.
But to some -- especially on Twitter -- it will always be the LeBron James headband game.
James' headband has become sort of an NBA inside joke, because its clearly moved back along the course of his forehead over the course of career as the league's best player tries -- and, well, fails -- to hide a receding hairline. But on a dunk with 8:59 left in the fourth quarter of Game 6, Tim Duncan knocked King James' proverbial crown off:
It fell to the ground, and was probably swept off by the kid whose job it is to mop the floor while the players are at the other end of the court. For the final nine minutes of regulation and the entirety of overtime, the headband vanished, and James played on, sans headband..
Without it, he looked kinda weirdly naked, and surprisingly difficult to recognize, even for seasoned NBA fans.
Please put the headband back on, LeBron. It's like you're naked. I feel like I'm supposed to avert my eyes.— SBNation NBA (@SBNationNBA) June 19, 2013
But without the headband he took over. The headband-removing dunk cut a Spurs lead that had been 12 down to just three. Two possessions later, he spun with force past Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard for an winding layup. Down two, he absolutely erased a Tim Duncan shot (GIF BELOW), then in transition, stopped, ducked under Duncan's defense, and finished an off-balance look in the paint.
The block-to-layup tied the game at 82. James would hit four of his first five shots after losing the headband, then sank a three with less than half a minute left to keep the game alive and allow Allen to hit his shot. All told, James went 5-for-11 with 12 points, three rebounds, two assists, and one block after the headband's removal -- not all that impressive, considering he had 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in the game. But the impact he made immediately after the famed sweat collector removal was LeBron at his most freakish, and that's why this was The Headband Game.
Meanwhile, Twitter exploded. You know, it started with jokes:
I thought it was Joel Anthony RT @RoFloESPN: Man, Lebron looks weird without his headband. #NBAfinals— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) June 19, 2013
Wow. I thought it was Jerry. Stack house. But it's Lebron without a headband— Metta World Peace (@MettaWorldPeace) June 19, 2013
Joel Anthony has been everywhere since LBJ lost his headband— Brendan Meyer (@BrendanMeyer) June 19, 2013
LeBron without a headband is like seeing Darth Vader's real face.— Ben Jones (@Ben_Jones88) June 19, 2013
Was sorta expecting Lebron's hairline to roll up like a sail after taking his headband off. #baldknowsbald— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) June 19, 2013
And then, quickly got SERIOUS:
LEBRON HEADBAND GAME— Brian Floyd (@BrianMFloyd) June 19, 2013
NO MORE HEADBAND EVER!— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) June 19, 2013
NEVER WEAR A HEADBAND AGAIN PLEASE LEBRON— Ben Swanson (@CardboardGerald) June 19, 2013
The headband was LeBron's restrictor plate it all makes sense now.— edsbs (@edsbs) June 19, 2013
If I'm Pop I call a timeout just to allow LeBron to put the headband back on.— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) June 19, 2013
This HAS to be the moment LeBron permanently ditches the headband.— Taco Trey Kerby (@treykerby) June 19, 2013
All told, James had nine points on six shots in the final minutes of regulation, including the three that kept the game alive and some
Maybe the headband was actually LeBron's kryptonite?— PTI (@PTI) June 19, 2013
Well, I’m never wearing a headband in a pickup game ever again.— UW Dawg Pound (@UWSBN) June 19, 2013
This doesn't bode well for headband sales— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) June 19, 2013
Darren Rovell immediately tweeted that head bands make up less than 1 percent of basketball merchandising sales blah blah blah, but, yeah.
LeBron going bananas without the headband has instantly become my favorite NBA storyline of the season.— Dan Shanoff (@danshanoff) June 19, 2013
No headband, no problem...LeBron is dominating this quarter!— Hot Hot Hoops (@hothothoops) June 19, 2013
F**k it!!!!! I'm never wearing my headband again either!!!!!!— Ty Lawson (@TyLawson3) June 19, 2013
Bold words from Ty Lawson, there.
And of course, because nobody in the world is actually funny on their own, this happened:
I wish I was kidding: 107 parody Twitter accounts were created tonight for LeBron James' headband.— Eli Langer (@EliLanger) June 19, 2013
It was the talk after the game as well, too:
"I guess the headband was the least of my worries at this point." - LeBron James on his play down the stretch— The NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 19, 2013
I think Battier just compared LeBron's headband to Dumbo's feather— Lee Jenkins (@SI_LeeJenkins) June 19, 2013
I'm purchasing mike millers shoe and lebrons headband for 1.754 million— Metta World Peace (@MettaWorldPeace) June 19, 2013
Now, only one question remains:
So here's the real question going forward: Headband or No Headband for Game 7?— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) June 19, 2013
More from SB Nation:
• Miami fans leave early, miss epic ending
• Flannery: The inspiring, agonizing, amazing story of Game 6
• Second-guessing Gregg Popovich's decisions
• Like a Bosh: Chris saves game with block at buzzer
• SB Nation's blogger mock draft
• NBA mock draft: Best-case scenarios | Scouting reports | Big Board