Let me finish tonight with my newest, best example of somebody sticking to the job - no matter how bad things look.
It used to be the Phillies pitcher in late innings I’d identify with, you know in late innings, say with the team down a couple of runs in the seventh. That poor guy out on the mound at Connie Mack knew he had to get the other team out right through the ninth - and still end up losing. He had to do his best and hope for a break, yeah, against all common sense that the Phils would come up with the runs.
Well, my latest, and now best, example of fighting against the odds - and not giving up not matter how far you’re down, no matter how late in the game, is what I saw last night in the NBA finals. Normally I’m with the Heat but last night; let me tell you, I’ve never seen anything like it.
Here’s this guy Nowitzki, his team down 15 with about a little more than five minutes on the clock and he just can’t get a basket. He keeps pressing and just not being able to get a clear shot off, getting tied up every time by the great Miami defense.
I’m watching it and it’s clear the game’s over and he keeps pushing - I’m wondering “Why’s he doing this? Why’s he still fighting so hard out there?” The game’s over. It’s over. Wade is unbelievable tonight. He’s just sunk one from the corner, a three-pointer with nobody on him - the Mavericks are just not in this game.
Then, magic. What can only happen in this my favorite sport - basketball - The NBA - with minutes left - the world inside that place changes! Here comes a 15 to 2 run by the Mavericks with Nowitzki hitting six of those game-winning baskets - especially the final one when he twisted and turned his way backwards past Chris Bosh.
You’ve got to understand, this game was over. So did LeBron when he gave that big, generous man-on-man, in his face salute to Dwyane. (I did like that moment - James was saying “after all the grief the Heat was headed for the ring.”)
Look, I like LeBron and Wade and Bosh. I still think they’re going to win this thing.
But last night we learned something about character. I’ve grown up with big guys who couldn’t shoot from outside, couldn’t hit foul shots. Those days are over. The pros today are unreal at everything. The talent is through the roof.
What we saw last night in Miami was something personal, something about character, about not giving up - about fighting when everybody knows it’s lost.
LeBron said recently if you’re not exhausted at the end of the game you didn’t play hard enough. Good for him. Can’t wait for Sunday. This is going to be one great series - and I’m never going to forget about this guy Nowitzki not quitting when we All thought it was over.
Five minutes to go. Fifteen down. And they won. Boys and girls don’t ever forget this one. Don’t ever give up. You’ll never know if you just might have done what the Mavericks did down in Miami the night of June 2, 2011.