Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and this includes the NBA and NHL seasons. But regardless of how much we will miss them until it begins again, this year both leagues and their fans had plenty to be happy about.
Especially in the playoffs hockey and basketball fans were treated to some of the most fought series in recent history, with the exception of the Bobcats and Heat series in the NBA and the Canadiens and Lightning series in the NHL.
I’ll start with the NHL. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I was pretty sure that the Blackhawks was going to win their back-to-back title and keep the Stanley Cup in Chicago. However, in the Western Conference finals they were facing a Kings team that was very tough, both physically and mentally. I was sure that when the series came back to Chicago for game seven they wouldn’t be able to cope with the Blackhawks strength at home, aided by the feverish supporters. But I underestimated their heart and the morale of a team coming from two 4-3 victories in the previous series.
In the Stanley Cup per se it was only a matter of time. The Rangers were also excited by the chance of winning their first title in 20 years and they had one of the best goaltenders in the world in Henrik Lunqvist. But it was not enough. The Kings were not only a better team: they had an unshakable confidence and also a wonderful goaltender in Jonathan Quick, who played like a monster. It was a very deserving title for the LA team.
As for the NBA, well I can’t express how happy I am to have underestimated the collective game of the San Antonio Spurs and at the same time overestimated Indiana game in the paint and the individual talents of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.
I always knew Greg Popovich was a great coach but this time he topped himself. Let’s take a look at what this guy did: his team lost in the last year’s final due to two players (Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard) missing free-throws when they were about to finish the series in a 4-2 win. They lost that game and the series in the following game. Their self-esteem reached an all time low. Pops picked up the pieces, rallied his troops and managed to keep his best players (Manu, Duncan and Parker) healthy throughout the season – giving them breaks when he felt they needed.
When the playoffs came it was clear they would get to the West Conference finals. In the finals, it was also clear that their collective game would surpass the talents of Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka.
And in the NBA Finals, with the exception of game 2 where James had a Michael Jordan-like performance, the Spurs knew exactly what to do guided by the man who is among the Top 5 sports (not only basketball) coaches of all time. They were relentless and they slaughtered the Heat in all the other games. Remember: all of that after losing in a heartbreaking way the season before. That, my friends, show character, talent, heart and an enviable work ethic. Congratulations to Popovich and the whole Spurs organization.
Now it’s time for baseball and in September, football is back!
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