By: Benny Steinhorn
may 17th, 2015
"The Playoffs". Even the very words reverberate passion, stress, excitement, frustration. Playoffs are a part of history unto itself. Every year a new story is written and another chapter added to the endless pages of the Epic that is the NBA. Is it the never-ending goal that all teams dream of and build their teams to surmount to. It's why the saying "there is no offseason" is so widely popular. Every player works to actualize their dreams into becoming a reality and the Playoffs are just another step to that dream. The playoffs are an entirely different atmosphere. Everything that has been achieved in the regular season means nothing in the playoffs. Games, series, entire careers can be destroyed or made in a matter of seconds. Watching these games you can feel the energy, you can feel the emotion running through each and every one of the players, even through your TV. The motto for the Playoffs is "where amazing happens". It is a simple yet elegant phrase that embraces the Playoffs and all its glory. In the commercials it goes through several different variations of "where amazing happens" before actually saying it. Things like "where clutch happens" and "where never meant to happen, happens". It proves that the playoffs are unpredictable and that anything and everything can happen at any given time, year in and year out.
Lets take a look at this seasons San Antonio Spurs. After a dominant 2013-2014 season ending in a 4-1 series win over the Miami Heat. During the off season it seems like the Spurs could do no wrong. A new three-year contract extension to Tony Parkers already $43.3 million contract and Boris Diaw signing a four-year $28 million deal. Things are looking up coming into the 2015 season. The big 3, the core of the Spurs (Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan) and there was not a single bad contract on the payroll! In the first month of the 2015 season the San Antonio Spurs had already been on an 8 game winning streak and were 13-4. By All Star break they had cruised to 34-19. The big 3 putting on amazing performances night in a night out as during the last 30 games of the season the Spurs only lost 4 games, ending up with a 55-27 season record. They moved with confidence into the first round of the playoffs to face the Los Angeles Clippers. Even though the Clippers were #3 in the West and the Spurs were #6, the Spurs were still a heavy favorite. This is what the Spurs have been waiting for, all their offseason moves, every practice, every sprint, every shot was all leading up to the beginning of a new chapter in the franchised story of one of the best big 3's of all time. Everything look like he was running great, Kawhi Leonard was averaging 20.3 PPG and won defensive player of the year plus Tim Duncan averaging a monstrous 11.1 RPG. But somehow they lost their edge, they lost their ability to create good offense and match it with their unstoppable defense. It led to them losing the first game in the series. Then they came back and won the next two games to lead the series 2-1. Game four resulted in a loss behind Chris Paul 37 points and seven assists outing. Then the Spurs lost their touch, becoming careless with the ball letting the Clippers run all over them. And just like that the Spurs lost game 7, 109-111. Everything they've worked for gone as soon as the clock hit 0:00. Now all the Spurs can do is sit back and watch the team that they just lost to, continue their run for the championship.
When a team wins a regular season game, it's usually just a win, moving on to the next game. But hey, a win is still a win right? Well in the playoffs the win isn't everything. The essence of winning isn't just for yourself. You do it for your team, your family, your fans, your city and everything you hold close. You do it for the ones who couldn't so that they can look up to someone who did. The essence of winning is a deeper passion that is in every single one of us no matter what we're doing. You can even compare it to a test in school. You do well on that test, you can say you won that test. So that you may get into a good school and be the guy that people who couldn't do it, look up to. To truly win you need to give every single inch of your being toward whatever you're doing. If you are afraid of skydiving and you go and jump out of a plane, you just won the battle against that fear. Granted, there may be other fears you still need to win against but nevertheless, you can put this one down in the books as W because you just beat that fear. The same thing goes in the NBA. Players are battling every second of every game to continually fulfill the dream that they have had since they were little kids. Every player is battling their fears when they step onto that hardwood. They're proving to themselves that they can keep their dream alive by winning over their own fears, on and off the court.