Bauman: Routine shot missed by Duncan sums up series for Spurs

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Manu GinobiliMIAMI — It was the Game 7 play that will haunt the Spurs throughout the summer, as much as their Game 6 collapse. And nobody will be more haunted than Tim Duncan.

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NBA players react to Game 7 of the NBA Finals on twitter

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LeBron JamesSlowly but surely, the legacy of LeBron James is growing and taking a more definitive shape with each passing season, each passing championship.

James and the Miami Heat are, once again, NBA Champions for the second consecutive season after defeating the San Antonio Spurs in an epic Game 7 of the NBA Finals that went down to the absolute wire on Thursday. All the drama about LeBron’s inability to consistently hit jump shots – clutch ones at that – continued to slowly flush down and out of our memories as the King found a way to hit one shot after another, including the final mid-range shot over the outstretched arms of Kawhi Leonard with 28 seconds remaining in the game that gave his team a definitive 4-point lead.

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SH Blog: CP3 nudges Clippers to talk to Celtics again about Garnett and Rivers, Ginobili devastated

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Kevin GarnettRecent history has shown that when you have the chance to acquire proven winners at the highest level, you don’t hesitate over minor details.

The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Pau Gasol for pocket change, a few picks and the draft rights to Marc Gasol. They may prefer to have the younger brother if you ask now, but netting Gasol won them two championships.

The Boston Celtics gave up just about all the moving parts they could muster to acquire Kevin Garnett. The move turned them from one of the worst teams in the league to perennial contenders and brought the only championship the franchise has seen for over two decades.

The Los Angeles Clippers hesitated at first, but managed to bring in Chris Paul for Eric Gordon and other moving pieces. All that did was turn the franchise around from being the joke of the league to one of the better teams in the Western Conference.

There are plenty of other moves over the years where taking a gamble on proven talent over potential was the difference in turning franchises around, and the Clippers have been given the opportunity to turn themselves into true contenders for years to come by trading for Garnett and the rights to hire Doc Rivers – one of the best coaches in the league.

The problem? They played hard ball and refused to give up “too much” for some of the biggest winners anyone could ask for. The talks between the Clippers and Celtics ended on Tuesday, and it appeared the Clippers may have missed out on a chance to be great. That is, until Paul intervened on the situation, from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

After superstar Chris Paul injected his influence to accelerate talks, the Los Angeles Clippers are searching for ownership approval to complete a blockbuster deal to bring Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and forward Kevin Garnett to L.A., league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

 Clippers management planned to huddle with owner Donald Sterling on Wednesday night in Los Angeles to get his approval and move on Thursday to finalize an agreement with the Celtics, sources said. Sterling met with Clippers coaching candidate Brian Shaw, an Indiana Pacers assistant coach, on Wednesday night.

The Clippers will send center DeAndre Jordan and two first-round draft picks to the Celtics in the deal, league sources said.

 Under league rules, Rivers can’t officially be traded, but the draft picks are compensation for a release of the coach’s contractual obligations to the Celtics. Garnett and Jordan can be exchanged for each other. In the eyes of the NBA, these have to be executed as two different deals.

“Doc is taking the job to coach Chris Paul,” a league source told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday. “This isn’t happening if Chris planned to leave.”

Garnett, 37, will waive his no-trade clause to join Rivers with the Clippers. The Clippers have to pay a $3.5 million trade kicker on Jordan’s contract.

Smart man you are, CP3. It’s not everyday that you get to “trade” for an amazing coach that is under contract with another team. It’s not everyday that you get to have a chance to play with a true hall of famer in Garnett, who still has plenty left in the tank and is mega-times better than the player he would replace in DeAndre Jordan – who unfortunately has not developed enough or lived up to expectations after signing the big $43 million contract a couple of seasons ago. Picks? When you’re expected to be a contending team and adding contending pieces, you can more than live with losing a couple of those, especially if losing the one man that will keep you a contender is a distinct possibility if you don’t give up those picks.

The thought of a Paul-Griffin-Garnett combination with role players and Rivers on the sidelines should make you drool if you are a Clippers fan. It’s up to management – the way they did when they first acquired Paul – to get this thing right.

Onto other news from around the league:

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StatBox NBA Finals Breakdown: Six things we learned from the incredible Game 6

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Let’s forget about the adjectives, the cliches and the hyperbole. Tuesday night’s Game 6 of the NBA Finals was the best Finals game in a really, really long time for many reasons. Clutch shots, transcendental performances, controversial calls and decisions and several signature moments all factored heavily into Miami’s 103-100 overtime win over San Antonio to force Thursday night’s Game 7. Here are several things we can take away from this unbelievable basketball night.

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Perkins: LeBron’s “…not six, not seven” title count still haunts Heat

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LeBron James' title count and the Heat's arrogance at the "Welcome Celebration" won't ever be forgotten.

LeBron James’ title count and the Heat’s arrogance at the “Welcome Celebration” won’t ever be forgotten.

“But that really was for our fans and it got wonderfully out of hand. And how everybody covered it? They used it as an albatross across our back.”

—Heat president Pat Riley, 11 months after the Big Three “Welcome Celebration.”

MIAMI – Fairly or not, tonight’s Game 6 of the NBA Finals is a referendum on the Miami Heat’s Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

And, fairly or not, any referendum on the Big Three becomes a referendum on James.

That’s where we sit today, hours before tipoff.

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