One of the most painful things about social media is there seems to be no escape from watching Ray Allen hit that 3-pointer in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. The shot has been turned into a GIF that seems to be shared by a different account every day while the audio from Mike Breen’s call has been played over and over. There seems to be no escape for Spurs fans who would rather relish other memories.
Well, what if Ray Allen missed that shot? What would the universe, at least San Antonio’s universe, look like? If the Spurs won Game 6, they’d have won their fifth championship ever, the fifth of Duncan and Popovich’s career, and kept LeBron James from winning his second ring.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t only Allen’s shot that lost the game for the Spurs. Kawhi Leonard missed the first of two free throws with 19.2 seconds to go and failed to put the Spurs up by four points. Manu Ginobili had six turnovers in regulation and two more in overtime, which certainly didn’t help the Spurs’ cause.
Still, making a shot is a lot more defining than missing free throws, and one great moment is more impactful than eight bad ones. So for argument’s sake, let’s say that Allen misses the 3-pointer, Boris Diaw grabs the rebound, and the Spurs win in six games.
Of course, it’s hard to determine if the theoretical Finals win in 2013 would prevent the Spurs from going on their revenge tour the next year and securing the Larry O’Brien Trophy. To keep things simple and positive for Spurs fans, we’ll say everything pans out as it did, so the Spurs repeat in 2013 and 2014.
The most obvious and “real” change is the way the stats change for the 2013 Finals. Without Game 7, Tim Duncan has a much greater statistical performance than Kawhi Leonard, who was biting at his heels in terms of points and rebounds. Duncan outplayed Kawhi offensively and had a solid defensive performance.
So how does a Spurs repeat affect the basketball landscape? What long-term repercussions does it have? Altering the past is a tricky thing that often creates more questions than it answers. It’s a guessing game surely to leave people confused and angry for what they could have had. It’s a messy business, but if we examine what happens if Ray Allen misses that shot, then we have to leave no stone unturned.
Legacies are affected, people become forgotten, and stories are changed in ways that make little to no sense. Strap in. It’s a long ride, and the NBA looks way different because of it.