Tonight the NBA Finals begin in Miami with the Spurs heading up against the Heat. It should be a very very exciting series and I encourage everyone to check out the great Finals coverage for the Spurs over at Project Spurs and over at Crossover Chronicles. Full disclosure, these are both sites I contribute to.
The Heat are obviously a sore subject for Magic fans. Orlando was riding high and then Miami changed the game in signing LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join Dwyane Wade. Since then, Miami has gone to three straight Finals now and are trying to win their second consecutive title.
All the animus and hatred for the Heat dates back to LeBron James' bungled "Decision." When talking about the Spurs, their whole dynasty of the last decade was built on another decision.
Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel reminisced about Tim Duncan's courtship in Orlando and how eventually he decided to stay — thanks to the convincing of his girlfriend and David Robinson. As I noted over at Project Spurs, Duncan's decision to stay in San Antonio caused a seismic shift in the NBA:
Whatever the tipping point was, Duncan returned to San Antonio and the rest, as they say is history. One franchise became the most celebrated organization of the past decade and the other has been wandering the desert of mediocrity and relevance until a ping pong ball gave the team a championship-caliber player again in 2005.
This story exemplifies the precarious balance in the league between a championship dynasty and something much, much worse. If Duncan leaves that Spurs team in 2000, the whole power dynamic in the NBA shifts. A Duncan and McGrady combination in their prime (even without Hill) would have possibly dominated that depleted Eastern Conference of the early 2000s.
Indeed, all Magic fans can do is think about what if when it comes to Duncan. It all worked out for the Spurs.
Now, amazingly, San Antonio is still very relevant and stands four games away from a fifth championship in 14 years.