Nothing in basketball can quite compare to Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Only 18 times in the history of the league have two teams met on the hardwood in a contest of such utter finality. Athletes love to say, "There is no tomorrow", but only in this case is it actually true.
With a pair of MVPs facing off Sunday evening, the big question is who will etch their name into Game 7 lore. Stephen Curry could cement the winningest season in league history, while LeBron James is looking to bring the first championship to Cleveland since the '60s.
No matter who steps up to the challenge, that player will be hard-pressed to top the greatest performance in Game 7 history. I'm talking about an individual triumph, under the most tremendous pressure imaginable, the likes of which we have never seen. And it came courtesy of this man:
Happy Father's Day to my real father, Clyde Frazier. Love you, Pops! pic.twitter.com/of9YhPI2zM— Sean H Doyle (@sean_h_doyle) June 19, 2016
The numbers speak for themselves: 36 points, 19 assists (????), 7 rebounds. The NBA didn't record steals back in them days, but a cursory glance at the footage indicates he had a crap-load of steals. And all of this with his team's leading scorer (and the league MVP) limited to 4 points. The legend of Game 7 is that Willis Reed limped onto the court and led his team to victory through sheer will, but the fact of the matter is that somebody needed to get buckets. Clyde either made or assisted on 31 of the Knicks' 46 field goals that evening.
To the footage!
My favorite part is at the 7:40 mark: Clyde misses a baseline jumper, starts back on D, then turns at halfcourt and basically says "Screw you, that's my ball, sucka!" Boom ... steal, drive, and-1 layup.
Try to imagine how difficult it would have been to dominate a game as a point guard in 1970. The three-point line -- the great size equalizer -- was nowhere to be found. The sport was dominated by bigs like Reed and Wilt Chamberlain. And yet there was Clyde, striking at Laker defenders like a magnificently mustachioed cobra on one end, dishing and swishing with alacrity on the other. He was everywhere. If that weren't enough, he topped off the 113-99 victory -- and the franchise's first title -- with the ultimate Clyde quote: "Will provided the inspiration and I provided the devastation."
The Cavaliers and Warriors have a hell of a lot to live up to.