From 1997-2005 I attended every NBA Finals game. I was an employee of the NBA and hosted a show called, "Inside Stuff". It was a dream job! I was there when Jordan won his last championship in 1998 and when Detroit beat the unbeatable LA Lakers in 2004. Over and over people have asked me, "What does a swimmer know about basketball?" My honest answer is, "I don't know the fundamentals and I will never be able identify "illegal D" but when I walk on the court for the NBA Finals, there is a very familiar vibe, one that I have felt many times only difference, I was on a pool deck."
That is what I LOVE about sports. When you get to your sports' greatest stage, it is all the same. Only difference between a gold medal moment and the NBA Championship is 6 extra games. We were 'one and done' where these guys have to come back and win 4 out of 7!
The energy is overwhelming. I would walk the floor before each game (that was part of my job...great job!). I would chit chat with various people and would take in the moment from the athletes perspective. I would watch each player as the National Anthem was being sung. I would notice the ones who couldn't keep still. The ones who were looking down or the ones who were looking up. Their focus was intense and I loved it! Some people crumble when the pressure is REALLY on and some people thrive. Championship moments bring out the guys who can take it and I love watching it.
I was just talking about it last night with a friend, the fact that we were so lucky to have been a part of the "Jordan Era NBA". It was so fun to watch him take over a game. It was an absolute thrill to cheer for him. But the game is still amazing and full of incredible talent....the big names in these Finals Dirk, Kidd, Lebron and Wade....and then, of course, there will always be some new heroes the ones that come off the bench to make the last second shot, like Steve Kerr... and that is what makes these sporting moments unforgettable. Game 1, bring it on!