By Shayne Combs, SVCsportszone.com
Not five…not six…not seven…for a minute I thought maybe LeBron was counting number of final appearances, but to his credit he found a way to get the job done. I am not a LeBron hater. I’m really not! Playing basketball at the NBA level does require a business side, and he had the right to play wherever he wanted. I did lose some respect for him when he felt like he needed to have a public “Decision” to announce where he was taking his talents.
I think James is a unique talent that the league has never had; however, I think he and the Miami Heat give younger athletes a great message to learn. It is not always a matter of being the most talented if you are not willing to bring it every night. The light switch that this team played with throughout the season is something that young players can really learn from when approaching their own high school teams. When the most talented plays with the most effort, it is usually going to be a no contest. Sometimes the talent gap is so big maybe it will not matter, but as we saw in the NBA playoffs, waiting until your back is against the wall to play with urgency and effort could easily be a recipe for failure. This point could have been better learned in Game 6, but an amazing effort play from Chris Bosh and a big time shot from one of the great shooters of my lifetime in Ray Allen, and a second chance was given to the more talented team.
As I turn 36 today, I am trying to stay young and understand today’s culture. I remember the generation before me hated Jordan’s baggy shorts, the knee brace not worn on the knee, and the tongue. You would always hear the Celtics and Lakers of the 80s were much better. Now, you cannot turn on any talk show without hearing the Jordan/LeBron talk. That debate is for another day, but the understanding of the culture is something very current.
This AAU generation – where it is easier for all the best players to find a place to play together and win big – is evident in high school, college, and now as we are witnessing the NBA. If I am being open minded, I do have to accept the argument that it is very unselfish for players like Bosh to give up his personal accolades to become a role player and win championships, but there is another part of the argument that must be noticed by the younger generation. Forming an all-star team doesn’t automatically equal championships. Championships come from hard work, preparation, playing to potential every time out, and playing together.
High school championships are even harder to win. They are not won by winning four out of seven. League championships are 14-game grinds in the SVC where you may get a chance to learn once or twice from a loss. Beyond the regular season it continues to become more difficult with the one-and-done format in the tournament.
So as you were watching one of the truly great NBA Finals, I hope you were watching it correctly as a high school player. I hope you were watching the special skill set and creativity of Tony Parker. I hope you were watching the difference in role players like Danny Green when defended with poor effort and then incredible effort. I hope you were watching champions like Shane Battier not sit and pout about not playing for most of a month only to answer the bell when called upon with the season on the line. I hope you were able to realize that despite the scoring problems of Bosh that you appreciated his three hustle plays in Game 6 as well as his ability to contain Tim Duncan one-on-one over the final six quarters of the series.
I hope you watched and learned that games are never over until the clock reads zero. Every rebound, loose ball, and free throw can be the difference between winning and losing…between champion and runner-up.