“What if a role player aspired to be something other than what society had intended? What if a role player aspired to something greater?”
– Danny Ferry, former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager
Danny Green came to the San Antonio Spurs a refugee from a dying franchise; one that had corrupted its own core, expediting its own demise by continuously ravaging their resources. But Green didn’t escape alone.
Shortly before Green was jettisoned from Cleveland, its greatest warrior, LeBron James, attempted a bloody coup. Flanked by his lieutenant, Maverick Carter, and an entourage of henchman, James walked into the Cavaliers’ high council chambers, immediately taking aim at—and disposing of—coach Mike Brown. James’ insurgence would be short-lived, he and his group escaping to Miami.
Ferry, one of Cleveland’s most forward-thinking minds, escaped the chambers, sending Green to San Antonio just moments before Cleveland imploded. As he predicted, Green would be more than an outcast with the Spurs. His cells would drink in the radiation from San Antonio’s three aging stars, nourishing him. And under the lesser gravity of the Spurs’ system, he was imbued with powers and abilities beyond those of mortal role players.
Green spent most of his first two years in San Antonio blending in, remaining relatively anonymous outside of a few blips of supernatural shooting prowess. With his fellow former-Cavalier, James returned and Green and his talents were brought out into the light of the world.
Somewhere in the background, Hans Zimmer’s “An Ideal of Hope” plays in the background. A montage of Green raining threes as he’s chased through a thicket of screens flashes before our eyes, interrupted by a close-up of an enraged Chris Bosh yelling, “I WILL FIND HIM!”
The music fades, giving way to explosions in the distance. Skyscrapers, and seven-footers, crumble to the ground—LeBron James’ block of Tiago Splitter forever etched in our minds. Silence. The camera cuts to a tight shot of Green, focused and determined, then backs out to show James barreling towards him with the ball at unfathomable speeds. The action drops into slow motion as the two collide in midair, our hero disarming his former teammate.
Later, in an interview room, Doris Burke would ask Green about the “S” routes he uses to elude the enemy—curling off one high screen through the lane, and then a second one along the baseline for an open three-pointer.
“It’s not an ‘S’,” Green would tell her. “On my team, it means hope.”
Standing at his post at the main entrance of the American Airlines Arena, a security guard watches on one of the many television screens posted around the building as the Miami Heat face a five-point deficit with 22 seconds remaining in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
A shot is fired, though not from a gun, and screams are heard. Uneasy, the security guard makes his rounds, circling the perimeter of the building, pepper spray at the ready. The lights go out. Then the pounding begins.
Peering off in the distance, the guard sees silhouettes banging against the arena’s glass doors. They’ve gathered in bunches, and more appear to be on the way. The lights return, and with them clarity. They’re the walking corpses of the Miami Heat fan. A mindless bunch that threw their fandom away the moment they filed out of the building upon witnessing Tony Parker drill a pull-up three-pointer in the closing seconds of Game 6.
No one knows what caused their fandom to reanimate once dead, though there are suspicions it might have something to do with the copious amounts of Axe Body Spray found in the Miami drinking water. But here they stand, unsure of why they’re drawn to this place, but frenzied to enter.
They don’t communicate in any way the world can decipher, but scientists note that they do let out unintelligible groans in unison at times; the unimaginative signs of a seven nation army.
Little did the security guard know, these were merely the first signs of a much larger epidemic. Days later, walking hand-in-hand with his daughter through downtown Miami, the guard heard an eerily familiar sound, followed by a rumble. In the distance a tidal wave of humans stampeded towards them, devouring everything in their path.
These weren’t zombies of yore, however. They ran far too fast for that. No, these were the scores of mindless human beings piling over each other to jump on and off the Heat bandwagon, leaving only a cloud of Axe and a few flip flops in their wake.
The summer is full of blockbusters, none more exciting than these NBA Finals. Like summer popcorn movies, these Finals feature both a sequel (defending champion Miami Heat) and a rebooted property with a glorious, but faded past (the San Antonio Spurs).
True to sequels, the Heat’s strengths and weaknesses have been magnified to the point that they’re caricatures of themselves—energy levels fluctuating in a win-every-other-game sense of artificially induced drama.
These Spurs are a modernized take on a classic formula. The characters have largely been recast, and early in the movie there was even a wardrobe update (the alternate grays) for marketing purposes. But in the hands of a talented director (Gregg Popovich), the heart of what made this team so great in our youth remains, stirring the heartstrings of our childhoods.
No matter the outcome, this has been a series for the age. And now it’s Game 7. Get your popcorn ready.