Kragthorpe: Heat, Spurs have become likeable
Now that the NBA Finals are even again, it is obvious that the winner will have earned the championship.
Whether that's the San Antonio Spurs, by winning in Miami next week, or the Heat, having responded from a 36-point defeat by winning Thursday's Game 4 on the road, the NBA will have produced a deserving champion.
And, in an upset, I'll have grown to like each team.
My interest in these NBA playoffs faded when the teams that featured former Jazz players were eliminated. The Spurs-Heat matchup held little appeal for me, basically because I didn't welcome the idea of either team winning. I've resented LeBron James and the Heat ever since that team was assembled and, while I respect coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurs' operation, I'm just not a fan of Pop's demeanor with the media.
But now? I'm embracing everybody.
James has won me over by accepting responsibility, not making excuses for himself or his team and finding ways to increase his workload. With James and Dwyane Wade going a combined 29-of-50 from the field and totaling 65 points, the Heat were very impressive in a 109-93 victory Thursday.
And now they're assured of a Game 6 (and Game 7, if necessary) in Miami next week, which obviously makes Sunday's Game 5 critical to San Antonio. To the Spurs' credit, they delivered in Game 3, when Miami was positioned to take control of the series - just as appears to be the case again.
If the Spurs come through in what now becomes a best-of-three series with Miami holding the home-court advantage, Popovich will have done one of the greatest coaching jobs in NBA history. His body of work already is phenomenal, and if he can win another championship, he'll have my full admiration.
So even with only only genuinely close game so far, the 2013 NBA Finals have captured my interest. More to the point, I'm now willing to have somebody win this thing.