Best of the best highlights 2012 NBA Finals
By Homer D. Sayson
13 Jun 2012
A LIFELONG NBA fan, I've always looked forward to this time of year. June is NBA Finals time, it's like Christmas for two weeks.
And so here we are, at the doorstep of the world's greatest basketball show, two teams left standing for the right to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy. The rolling Oklahoma City Thunder from the West versus the universally disliked Miami Heat from the East.
The march to glory, and its attached fame and untold fortune, begins today with Game 1 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
Unlike past NBA Finals, I have no dog in this race. But just like past NBA Finals, this one promises to be an epic as it features two of the best pro basketball players in the planet -- Miami's LeBron James and OKC's Kevin Durant.
If you're rooting for the Heat, your hopes are in good hands with LeBron, a 3-time MVP who enters the NBA Finals with an eye-popping 30.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists per in 17 playoff games.
As a Cleveland Cavalier, James played and lost in the 2007 Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. He got another shot in his maiden year with the Heat last June but fell in six games to the Dallas Mavericks. Maybe, just maybe, the third time's the charm.
A bulky 6-foot-8, 250-pounder, James is uniquely agile, making him a threat on both ends of the floor. Almost unstoppable in the open court, he is a nightmare in the low post and can gut opposing defenses with his unselfishness and ability to find the open teammate.
And with his size and speed, James can shut down any perimeter player he's assigned to defend.
But the 27-year old juggernaut isn't the only worry for Oklahoma. James has two friends that constitute the loved and hated Big Three -- Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Although the Heat's run has been highlighted by erratic play, they displayed poise and resilience in turning back the rough and physical Indiana Pacers, who were poised for an upset after stealing homecourt advantage and briefly leading the Eastern Conference Semifinals series 2-1.
And when doubts surfaced about the legitimacy of their championship chase, the Heat silenced the naysayers by staring down the 2008 NBA champion Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, winning that battle in seven games after falling behind 3-2.
IMPRESSIVE and loaded as the Heat are, don't expect the OKC Thunder to shake with fear in their Nikes.
The Thunder reached The Finals in devastating fashion, mowing down the Los Angeles Lakers, the San Antonio Spurs and the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, teams that owned 10 of the last 13 NBA championships.
OKC is deep and talented at all positions, but Kevin Durant is inarguably the fulcrum of their arsenal.
Unlike LeBron, Durant hasn't won an MVP award yet. But he is a 3-time scoring champion and has finished 2nd twice in the MVP voting.
This is the first NBA Finals trip for Durant, who at age 23 is showing an unbreakable will, making game-winning shots after another as he leads his merry band of OKC brothers to the Promised Land.
And man, this kid, is a long, lean and mean fighting machine at 6-foot-9 and 235 pounds. A 3-time All-Star, Kevin is a pure scorer who puts up points in bunches, scoring in so many different ways and doing so with effortless grace.
Indeed, in only his 5th year in the NBA, Durant has taken the express train to the zenith of his sport. Fresh from pocketing yet another scoring title in the abbreviated regular season, he razed through the playoffs averaging 27.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists per.
But Durant will not win the NBA jewel all by himself. He will need help, and thank goodness, there's plenty of that in Oklahoma --- Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison, Derrick Fisher, etc.
Did I say the Finals begin today?
Can't hardly wait. (Homer D. Sayson)
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