Tim Duncan retired a winner after 19 NBA seasons and five titles with the San Antonio Spurs. But the greatest NBA Finals game ever played, per ESPN, Ray Allen and the Miami Heat won the battle that unforgettable night in 2013.
Ray Allen's game-tying score, which goes down as an iconic NBA moment, was his only 3-point basket of the game. The Heat made eleven 3-point baskets on 58% shooting, lead by Mario Chalmers' 4 of 5 night from downtown. The entire Spurs team had only one more made three and just five of them went through the net, out of their 18 attempts.
Mike Miller lost his shoe, but was the Heat leader in +/- with a +15 total. Chalmers followed with +13, while Dwyane Wade inexplicably had the lowest plus/minus total at -15, on 6 of 15 shooting. Near the end many Heat fans lost hope, left early and missed the climatic finish.
Tim Duncan lead all players in amassing a +16 in the plus/minus stat, yet luckily for the Heat, was not on the floor during Allen's historic shot. For the game, Duncan scored 30 points and 17 rebounds to lead both teams. Perhaps snaring an 18th rebound would have avoided the only NBA Finals loss in his career.
The Heat won the following game, 95-88, for their second consecutive championship behind Shane Battier's six 3-pointers and LeBron James' five. Duncan scored 24 points, along with 12 rebounds, but couldn't overcome Miami's long-distance barrage to get his fifth ring. He would snare that prize the following year in 2014.
That series had four potential Hall Of Fame players on the floor at the same time for the Heat: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Allen and Chris Bosh. For the Spurs, Duncan and perhaps Tony Parker will be there with them. Rarely in recent times have so many elite players graced the court together.
The tributes and accolades will continue to pour in for Duncan as one of greatest and most successful players in NBA history, both on and off the court. Numbers are just the superficial veneer of his legacy, which goes beyond the game itself.
For one night though, the Heat captured the essence of the NBA itself. On June 18, 2013 supreme talent and hard work blended to produce an everlasting masterpiece of a game that will live on forever in basketball annals.