“James catches puts up a three, won’t go, rebound Bosh back out to Allen his three pointer BANG! Tied game with 5 seconds remaining!”- Mike Breen’s call of “The Shot” by Ray Allen in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals.
You often hear announcers say the NBA is a “make or miss league.” But it often feels like an oversimplification of such a dynamic sport. However Allen’s Game 6 shot certainly proves the old saying to be true.
The shot itself is one of 3,358 shots Ray Allen made from behind the arc, but it will forever stand alone for a number of reasons. When you think about the magnitude of the moment and the ramifications that would ensue if he in fact missed, it adds up to it being one of the biggest moments in NBA History.
So what if Ray Allen missed the shot?
Ironically enough, Allen’s legacy would have taken the least of a hit, despite being the one who took the shot. His Hall-of-Fame career was set in stone, and he had already secured a title in 2008. Plus his clutch gene was never in doubt considering the big shots he hit over the course of his career. But it does have huge ramifications for some all time greats.
How does it impact LeBron’s legacy? Does the Big 3 ever recover? Does Tim Duncan climb the all-time list for being a perfect 6-0 in the Finals? Gregg Popovich escapes the only screw up on his illustrious career. An all-time great ends up winning the ever elusive ring.
LeBron’s Legacy Takes a Hit?
Can you imagine Skip Bayless banging on the First Take glass table yelling for 2 hours about Lebron James once again missing a clutch shot? The newspaper headlines about James falling 1-3 in the NBA Finals?
It would be unfair considering James was amazing in that game, but the fact is nobody would have cared. No one would remember his Game 6 triple-double, no one would care about his 18-point 4th quarter, and no one would damn sure care for his late 3 that cut the deficit to 2.
The only narrative that would hold weight is Lebron James choked when it mattered most. That he doesn’t have the clutch gene. And for damn sure he isn’t in the same breath as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Looking back on this series, this was when we saw the true turn in James’ mentality. Sure he had a ring in 2012 after destroying a bunch of kids in OKC, but the win over San Antonio flipped a switch in his head and boosted his confidence to a whole other level.
Assuming the following year plays out as it did with the Heat getting annihilated by the Spurs, and James sits at 1-4 in the NBA Finals, there’s a good chance Cleveland isn’t a viable option. James has called his tenure in Miami as his “college” experience, where he learned to win and grew as a person. But chances are with just one ring, and his legacy on the line, Cleveland isn’t the most attractive place to sign. It is possible James packs his bags and joins Kawhi Leonard and Popovich in San Antonio, or heads to Los Angeles earlier and teams up with an aging Kobe Bryant for guidance.
So in the end do I think James would he have recovered from the loss? Another summer of nothing but scrutiny? Yes because he is one of the best to ever do it. But the journey would have for sure changed. There would have been yet another wrench thrown into his journey to G.O.A.T status.
The Big 3
If the Heat lost to the Spurs, and the big 3 fell to 1-2 in the finals after the infamous “not 1… not 2… not 3… not 4…” speech by James, the team would have been blown up.
Chris Bosh would for sure have been the odd man out, getting traded for either depth, cap space or another star player. If they had gone the salary dump route, Miami could have entertained possible free agents Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum as a replacement for Bosh. Or the Heat could have fully embraced the small ball lineup by bringing in CP3 to run point. Things could have got real interesting in South Beach.,
One thing would be certain, the pressure would have only mounted on Wade and James to get it done.
The narrative around Wade would be that he is quickly an aging star in decline and unable to match James’ production. Rather than being a celebrated 3x champion, he would be looked at a broken down guard with questions regarding his ability to still get it done.
Head Coach Erik Spoelstra would have been fired and replaced by his own boss Pat Riley. Riley wouldn’t have sat back and watched a potential dynasty slip through his fingers.
The biggest winner in all of this is Tim Duncan. Coming into the series, Duncan was 4-0 in NBA Finals. He came 5 seconds away from being 5-0. Assuming the 2014 season played out as it did, Duncan would have been 6-0 in the NBA Finals.
That would have tied him with Jordan in rings and perfection. The 6th ring would have meant he had one more than Kobe for his generation. Duncan would for sure sky rocket up the all time charts. He is already top 10 on most people’s rankings anyway, but it is possible he rises above Kobe and Shaq.
Much like Duncan, Popovich would have benefited greatly from Allen’s shot not falling through the net. Even more so than the fact that Popovich would be 6-0 in the finals, it would have erased the only blunder in his historic coaching career.
If you remember on the last Heat possession, Tim Duncan was on the bench when Chris Bosh snagged the rebound and kicked it out to Allen in the corner. To this day I randomly think what was Popovich doing with his most trusted player on the bench for a critical moment?
I am certain Duncan would have grabbed the rebound over Bosh and the Spurs would have clinched the title right there. But that wasn’t the case.
I think everyone erased T-Mac’s career, post Rockets, from their minds. But what always sticks in my mind is seeing McGrady on the Spurs bench during the series and thinking, wow T-Mac is going to at least win a ring before his time is up.
But then Ray Allen snatched the feel good moment right out of the air when he hit the shot.
Out of all of the ramifications we’ve gone through so far, this is the least impactful. However it still does hurt to see a fan favorite and once great player end his career without a ring.