MIAMI (CBSMiami) – And then there was one.
One game to decide the value of a year's worth of work trying to become NBA champion. For one team, it's one last shot at glory as the window is nearly closed on a historic run and for the other, immortality winning back-to-back championships.
"The moment is going to be grand," Miami Heat superstar LeBron James said.
While only one game, Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals could go a long way towards defining the legacy of the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat. The Spurs have won multiple titles and had this year's championship trophy being wheeled to the bench before a historic collapse in Game 6.
The Heat is the defending champions and showed in Game 6's improbably victory that they aren't quite ready to give up the title. The game will come down to which team can come back from Game 6's heart-stopping finale and give one more championship performance.
"As a competitor you love it, because you know you have an opportunity and it's up to you," Heat guard Ray Allen said. "We have a chance in our building to make something great. All of our legacies are tied to this moment, this game. It's something our kids will be able to talk about that they were a part of. Forever will remember these moments, so we want to not live and have any regrets."
History dictates that the home team in a Game 7 holds a significant advantage, going 14-3. Not only that, but the last time the road team won a Game 7 of the Finals was when Washington beat Seattle in 1978, when this writer was just a few months old.
The Spurs' were tantalizingly close to the championship in Game 6. San Antonio led by five points with under a minute to go. The NBA had roped off the court and was literally wheeling out the Larry O'Brien trophy for the Spurs to celebrate another championship with on the court.
Then with a combination of three-point shots from Ray Allen and LeBron James, and a missed free throw from the Spurs, the game was tied and heading to overtime where the Heat would ultimately pull away just enough.
Game 6 ended well after midnight Wednesday morning and now less than 48 hours later both teams have to put it behind them and come out firing on all cylinders in Game 7.
"You know what, it's all about just winning the title. It's not about situation or what has led up to it," Duncan said. "It's a great story for everybody else, but we're here for one reason, one reason only: It's to try to win this game (Thursday). We have had a very good season thus far, and I think we just want to get to the game more than anything. We just want to see what happens and be able to leave everything out there."
The Heat could become the NBA's first repeat champions since the Lakers in 2010. James and Chris Bosh moved to Miami to join Wade a few weeks later and they are in the finals for the third time in three chances.
"I mean, I need it because I want it and I only came here — my only goal is to win championships," James said. "I said it, this is what I came here for. This is what I wanted to be a part of this team for."
James, Wade and Bosh are going for No. 2, while San Antonio is getting a second shot at what would be a fourth title together for Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. All their years together have given the Spurs' trio the belief they can bounce back from Tuesday's collapse.
San Antonio has never lost in the finals, but they've never faced the odds they will see in Game 7 at the AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat's home crowd will be rocking, the Heat will be ready to lay it all on the line to capture the elusive back-to-back championship and a second NBA title in three years.
The Spurs will also be facing the greatest player in a generation in James and his running mates Wade and Bosh will have plenty to say before all is said and done Thursday night.
"I want to go down as one of the greatest. I want our team to go down as one of the greatest teams. And we have an opportunity to do that," James said. "Hasn't been many teams to win back-to-back championships. It's so hard. It's the hardest thing. I said last year it was the hardest thing I've ever done, winning my first. Last year don't even come close to what we've gone through in this postseason and in these finals. So I'll be there (Thursday) night. I'm going to give it my all."
It's music to the ears of Heat fans everywhere and a warning to the Spurs that the championship will not be given to them, instead they will have to take it from the Heat.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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