Most great things in life have sequels. And let’s be honest, the sequels are always mediocre compared to the original.
When Liam Neeson’s family got “taken” a second time, you yawned the entire movie, knowing it was just going to be murderous revenge until his family was saved. Wayne’s World 2? Party time was not even remotely excellent. And don’t even get me started on The Hangover II and III.
But what about sequels in sports? Ali fought Frazier three masterful times to cement his legacy as the greatest. And even though the outcomes were slightly predictable, watching Jordan’s Bulls play the Jazz in ’97 and ’98 was nothing short of magnificent. Each series had its own iconic moment; The Flu (or if you prefer, hangover) Game in 1997, and The Push Off in 1998.
1997-98 was also the last time two teams met in the NBA Finals for a second consecutive year. Maybe after 16 years, it’s time for two teams to break that trend.
Though the 2013 NBA Finals didn’t end as most of us thought it would and should, no one can deny the excitement those seven games provided us. The nail-bitters, blowouts, and constant swings of leads and emotion all culminated into a Game 7 which ended as the second most viewed game in NBA history, since 1998.
But what would it take for history to repeat itself?
The Miami Heat went into the offseason with one major decision – to cut or keep Mike Miller. The new luxury tax penalties in the Collective Bargaining Agreement turned Mike Miller’s contract, which was only worth a little over $6 million, into nearly $17 million in taxes. Even though Miller has been a key piece of the Heat’s bench in their two title runs, no role player is worth roughly $23 million. But with the money saved by amnestying Miller, Miami added the highly coveted Greg Oden, and known headcase, Michael Beasley.
On the other hand, San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford swung for the fences and brought in the "Italian Stallion," Marco Belinelli, while managing to keep Tiago Splitter and Manu Ginobili in silver and black for the foreseeable future. The Spurs did lose their 3-point sniper, Gary Neal, to Milwaukee, but they also lost DeJuan Blair’s Instagram ranting talents and jewelry store debt issues to the Mavericks.
In reality, what matters is that the Spurs and Heat have the same system intact with their same core group of players. It’s the additions of other teams that are the biggest threat to a Spurs-Heat sequel.
Even if the addition is a healthy Kobe Bryant or Russell Westbrook, or the Pacers adding a veteran in Luis Scola and bench scoring in Chris Copeland, those teams are the biggest threat to unseat the current conference champions.
As someone who picked the Heat to beat San Antonio in six games, seeing the Spurs one rebound and five seconds away from a fifth championship (and proving me wrong), still haunts my dreams. So many factors go into an 82 game season, and it takes tons of skill and a little bit of luck to win another 16 games for the title.
The Spurs core is another year older. LeBron James is still in his prime and only getting better.
But if both teams were to rematch again in 2014, San Antonio would absolutely have a shot to dethrone King James. Maybe those last second free throws bounce in the basket, instead of out to the opposing team. Or those rebounds fall into Kawhi Leonard’s long arms, instead of Chris Bosh’s.
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. And if that luck can add to the Spurs trophy case, then maybe this potential sequel would live up to the original.