In the past week, we have bore witness to the evisceration of two champions, the Miami Heat and Spain. A champion in my conception is not simply the one off winner of a championship. A champion wins big and more than once, while setting a standard of greatness that constructs an aura that is part article of faith, part object of disdainful envy. A champion builds a belief in itself and it’s followers that all will end right. In the closing minutes of tight games the seek affirmation in the certainty of victory, while their humbled opponents find harbingers of defeat.
This week has been a double evisceration because the Heat and Spain were not simply beaten, their belief and championship qualities were shredded and ripped from their proud chests, and they were left to look humbled and small. The feeling at the final whistle Sunday night and this afternoon was pity. Pity that proud teams we have come to admire or fear were left floundering about without an answer to what was happening to them. They each looked incompetent and helpless as if suddenly and inexplicably the game they had dominated had passed them by without so much as a head’s up dude.
The Heat were torn asunder by an outstanding Spurs team, but the lack of competitiveness spoke to an aging imbalanced roster that could not find the extra gear that had been their defining quality.
Spain too dealt with an aging core and were pushed off balance by a robust Chile team that in the glory moments now gone, they would have passed into exhaustion before nipping a goal midway through the second half to secure the three points.
Both teams are at a crossroads, where loyal servants of the past will be left behind, and hopefully too any romantic notions to past achievement as any new achievement is contingent on embracing the present and constructing a new championship identity.