It was the real NBA Finals, wasn’t it, North America?
Who can forget game 1 when Bob Cousy won it on the late lead layover?
Or Game 2, after which the Philadelphia NBA franchise moved to San Francisco, exposing Northern California fans to Finals fever?
Or Game 3, when many people finally got color TVs, which added a new dimension to the viewing experience?
Or Game 4, when the NBA introduced the 3-point arc?
Which naturally led to the fifth game and the biggest turning point in the series: the birth of Stephen Curry.
It’s been a wild ride guys and here we are ready for Game 6 on Thursday night and what numbers should be a dramatic showdown between . . . uh, who’s playing again?
Oh right. Golden State vs. Celtics, Finals match last seen in 1964, in a five-game series played on the following dates: April 18, 20, 22, 24, and 26.
But it was a more sensible era than the current one, where a chaotic, sprawling schedule led to a disjointed narrative arc.
This is not a new problem. People have been complaining about long gaps between games for years, especially in the first round than in the last. But the last round is more important.
I remember my first thought when I saw Hakim Olajuwon block a John Starks three-pointer as Game 6 ended in the 1994 Finals: three more days in Houston!
But at least that Knicks-Rockets series had four one-day breaks and only two two-day breaks. It was a common pattern at the time, and it carried through the NBC era and into the ABC era.
Back in 2013, the final still had four one-day and two two-day breaks.
In 2014, the finals switched from 2-3-2 to 2-2-1-1-1, which increased the number of trips, and since then two-day breaks have become the norm.
Fortunately, there was one one-day break in the current final. But only one.
What is behind this? Basically the desire of the NBA and its players union to keep the stars healthy and fresh until spring.
Travel? Of course, take a day of travel, by all means. But then another day off usually follows.
The schedule is a collaborative decision that also involves the TV partners, but in the end, the NBA decides everything. Whatever. This is not good.
Somehow, hockey players manage to travel a lot and generally play every other day during the playoffs. Maybe it’s because their sport is much softer and less physically demanding than basketball.
The Stanley Cup Finals, which begins Wednesday night, includes one two-day break and five one-day breaks.
After losing Game 5 on Monday, the Celtics cited fatigue as part of their problem. Fatigue!
Okay, they had a seven-game streak leading up to the Finals after beating the Nets in a longtime first round game that I think started at the Long Island Arena in Commack. But still.
If you love basketball, you’ll wait until Thursday and watch Game 6, and if you love sports, you’ll most likely watch Game 7, if there is one, on Sunday night. Drama is drama.
There were two-day breaks in 2016 before Games 5, 6, and 7 of the Finals, and that didn’t take away from how memorable it was for the Cavaliers to come back from a 3-1 deficit and beat Golden State then and still is today.
But as every hockey fan knows and every basketball fan suspects, playing every other day is the best way to captivate and interest casual viewers.
Remember, the Golden State ancestors of Philadelphia did just fine when they won the very first Finals in 1947.
They defeated the Chicago Stags in five games played on the following days: April 16, 17, 19, 20 and 22. THIS IS ENTERTAINMENT!