I’ve mentioned this before, but I work nights and oftentimes find myself missing early games. It’s happened a few times this spring already – most notably with the Raptors – and as the first round has gone on, it’s become more annoying. No more so than on Saturday night, when the San Antonio Spurs played the Los Angeles Clippers in a Game 7.
That night, I worked a late shift, which left me two options. Twitter, the first, was clogged with a bunch of crap about some horse race and two guys beating each other up. You know, Other Sports. My next option was radio.
In Southern Ontario in the Toronto area, there are two all-sports radio stations, but neither aired the game. I spent a handful of minutes slowly working my way through the dial, one click at a time, until I happened onto ESPN Chicago’s broadcast. Driving my way through parking lots, suburbs and highways, they filled me in on what happened: Chris Paul pulled a hamstring, but was having a gutty performance; the Spurs were dominating the offensive glass and keeping the score close.
Baseball’s supposed to be the best suited sport for radio broadcasts, but I think basketball works pretty good too. Things are constantly in motion, but you can generally focus on the ball and have a good idea of what’s happening. It’s not as free flowing as hockey, but not as plodding as football. It’s a comfortable middle. Needless to say, I fell into the rhythm quickly.
Chances are you saw the game, too, so I’ll spare the recap and just say it was a hell of a match: exciting, close with plenty of twists, turns and storylines. Better than The Avengers, I bet. Tim Duncan was sharp all night, hitting big free throws down the stretch for the Spurs. For the Clippers, there was two big three-pointers by J.J. Redick and Blake Griffin nearly picked up a triple-double. Between the teams, there was 31 lead changes, most of them coming late in the fourth.
But mostly, there was Chris Paul limping around, dropping 27 points and hitting the game winning shot. It wasn’t enough that he led the Clippers in scoring and was dropping shots right up until the buzzer – he was doing it after straining a hamstring, an injury that visibly caused Paul pain and discomfort all night, but the severity of which I could not judge for myself.
Back, earlier, in the night, Twitter exploded with cries of horror when Paul was injured, shouts all along the line of “it can’t end like this!” It didn’t, but this series couldn’t have ended so anticlimactically, either. In what might’ve been the best first-round series ever, two of the best teams in the NBA traded wins until tonight, the first time either won two in a row.
On the radio, it sounded almost mythic, perhaps hyperbolic. In between bursts of static and blasts of crowd noise, ESPN’s two radio announcers were getting lost in the drama of it all, shouting after a big shot, exclaiming after the Spurs grabbed yet another offensive board and treating Paul’s night like it’s going straight to their highlight reels. It certainly fit the mood of the game. Even if I only got to watch the highlights later, I’m still glad I caught the game in some form.
Never miss a Game 7.