Bill Russell’s Game 7 advice for Heat, Spurs
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
MIAMI — The saying in LeBron James’ locker isn’t reserved solely for Game 7′s. It is a mantra borrowed from Bruce Lee, one that applies to every game but never moreso than Thursday’s all-or-nothing matchup against the San Antonio Spurs.
“The great mistake is to anticipate the outcome of the engagements,” the white sheet of paper reads. “You ought not to be thinking of whether it ends in victory or in defeat. Let nature take its course and your tools will strike at the right moment.”
James is hardly alone when it comes to the desire to meet this moment, to let his talent surface and mind stay clear when the pressure is at an all-time high. His Miami Heat teammates are part of this, too, knowing full well that falling short in the NBA Finals for the second time in three seasons will change everything about how their superteam is perceived.
The San Antonio Spurs will feel the heat of the spotlight like never before as well, having blown a chance to win a fifth championship in Game 6 and take their dynasty to new heights. This, as they see it, is their time to rise to the most unique of occasions and become the first road team to win a Game 7 in the Finals since the Wes Unseld-led Washington Bullets beat the Seattle SuperSonics.
If anyone knows what it takes to thrive in times like these, it’s Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell. The 11-time champion took part in 10 Game 7′s, including five in the Finals — winning all 10 times and becoming the league’s all-time leader in the category that matters most.
“(Celtics coach) Red (Auerbach) used to have a phrase he used: ‘I don’t give a damn what they’re going to do; This is what we’re going to do.’ ” Russell told USA TODAY Sports. “The difference, especially in a seventh game, is ‘Can I take my team and do what we do best?’ And I’m going to respect the other team. The more I respect them — without fear, but respect … [For more on Bill Russell's NBA Finals Game 7 advice for Heat, Spurs, click here.]