Twelve seconds left in the game, down three, LeBron James shoots a three. It misses off the rim. It's a high rebound, the perfect type for an offensive board.
Chris Bosh grabs the rebound with only Manu Ginobili around him, as Boris Diaw was caught doubling James on his three. Bosh is able to secure a tough rebound, and he kicks it out to Ray Allen.
Allen then of course nails the three pointer sending Game 6 to overtime, where the Heat eventually won. This led to Game 7 Thursday night, and the Heat prevailed over the San Antonio Spurs for their second straight NBA Title.
Some claimed on Twitter after the game that LeBron has now proven himself enough, and he can no longer be criticized. Others say he's now close to Michael Jordan territory.
But what if we change one aspect of the best play of the series? What if one little thing changes? What if one play, could change the legacy of a single player, in a team game?
Well in fact this is true. If Ray Allen missed that three pointer, the Heat would have lost. Instead of hearing how great LeBron is, our attention would be turned to the fact that LeBron James is 1-3 in the NBA Finals, and he will never be as good as Michael Jordan, or even Kobe Bryant. The entire legacy of LeBron changes.
But what really would have changed if Ray Allen missed that shot, or even if the Spurs hit their own game winner?
LeBron James would have had identical numbers of 30 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assist, a near triple double, through four quarters. He would have contributed the same to the team if Ray Allen makes that shot or not.
But if Ray Allen did miss, instead of talking about how great LeBron James is, and how he could potentially go down as one of the top basketball players ever, we would be talking about how LeBron James is 1-3 in the NBA Finals and will never be a truly great NBA player.
This is why I am not a fan of NBA Basketball.
The NBA Media, and it's fans, have formed the most knee-jerky cabal in all of sports, perhaps the entire world.
It's become a place where - instead of saying the Heat won the NBA Championship - the story becomes LeBron winning. The fans ignore Ray Allen's clutch three from the corner, and prefer to discuss the headbandless LeBron. In the eyes of the media, James won the NBA title, not the Miami Heat.
Players are measured not by how many MVPs they have won, or All Star Games they have attended- individual success. They are judged by how many championships they have won- a team accomplishment.
I can't understand this, but it's how the NBA runs. Discussions of who are the best players don't come down to individual success, but rather the success of their team.
Other leagues, of course, used to run this way. Baseball judged pitchers based on how many games they "won" over how many runs they gave up. Quarterbacks used to be judged, and still are to some extent, by how many Lombardi Trophies they lifted above their heads, rather than how many TDs they threw.
MLB and the NFL have moved on from this incorrect way of thinking. Pitchers are now judged based on how many runs they give up, and how effectively they pitch, over the success of the team around them. Quarterbacks are now understood to be a piece in the system of a football team, rather than the key piece that no team can win without, though there are still many stragglers- The type of stragglers who believe Joe Flacco turned into an elite QB because the Ravens won the Superbowl.
But then there is the NBA. It lags behind in its understanding of true greatness. Players are judged by championships and team success, rather than their individual contributions, and it seems like they will be in the near future, at least by the media and fans. The NBA and its fans fail to realize Michael Jordan didn't win six world championships by himself. No, he was on a team that won six championships. It also fails to understand that LeBron James would have been the exact same basketball player if Ray Allen made that three pointer, or if he did not.
Until the NBA can figure that out, it will forever elude my true fandom. It will simply be a distraction from the end of the International Soccer season, to the start of NFL training camp.