There are three players to ever wear a Blazer jersey competing in this year’s NBA finals: James Jones (2008), Juwan Howard (2010), and Patty Mills (2010-2011). Patty for the Spurs; James and Juwan for the Heat. Game one in Miami was very tight, but each player made an impact.
Firstly, and most importantly (as the Spurs stole the W with his help), is Patty Mills. Patty came alive in the 4th quarter with both an electrifying high-five and a game saving hug with grateful teammate, Tony Parker. The mountain-top skin slap occurred after Parker trapped sophomore Heat guard, Norris Cole, in the French Tornado. Parker approached the bench and was met with the approval of longtime idol, Patty Mills.
Patty is not perfect, however, as video replay would indicate that he got mostly wrist. Nevertheless, he far outshined his shortcomings later on with a do-or-die hug after Parker’s buzzer-beater to give the Spurs a 3 point lead. Patty was the first on the scene and, although brief, his show of camaraderie was enough to shake Miami’s confidence when it counted.
For the Heat side, Juwan was invaluable. Like Patty, he did not actually play in the game, but sometimes not getting in the way is good enough. Juwan looked extra nice in a grey suit akin to the ensemble he displayed in Indiana, that screamed, “Professional”. You could tell he had taken it upon himself to balance out the negative impact of Chris Andersen’s tattoos on impressionable youth watching the game. With a strong bench presence like that, how can you not love the Heat?
One could argue that James Jones is the real hero here. Had he played, LeBron’s triple-double would have seemed childish in the face of his quadruple-double. Recognizing a leader and taking a backseat is a difficult sacrifice for any superstar. At a time when the Heat need to rally around their 2nd best player, Jones fell into a supporting role, giving Miami an otherwise unreachable chance to succeed. As the series continues, look for the selflessness of James Jones. DNP just means “Darn Near Perfect”.