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Over the years LeBron James’s has been known for his signature headband as much as his outstanding skills on the court. However, many Miami Heat fans of the James era would have been happy to see the last of that proverbial accessory after what transpired in game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals.
With the Heat trailing the San Antonio Spurs and just over nine minutes left in the game, James lost his headband and seemed to come alive in the remaining minutes of the game. He hit four of five shots, made two assists, three rebounds and a block to help the Heat erase the Spurs’ twelve point lead and win the game in overtime.
Buildup to the Headband Game
LeBron James and the Spurs had history running from 2007 when the Spurs swept James’s Cleveland Cavaliers in four straight games. Tim Duncan went to James in the Cavaliers’ locker room to comfort him, and told him that he would win the league one day. James’ dream had come true in 2012, two years after joining the ranks of the Heat.
In the 2012/2013 season, the Heat, looking to defend the title posed a league best 66-16 regular season record. They beat the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, the Chicago Bulls in the second round and the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Spurs also had a stellar record of 60-22 in regular season, only bettered by the Heat. They then cruised past the Lakers, the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies en route to the NBA Finals. Finally, Tim Duncan and LeBron were face to face again for a repeat of the 2007 rivalry.
In the first two games of the series played in Miami, the Spurs and the Heat exchanged wins before the series shifted to Texas for game three. San Antonio won it before Miami bounced back in game four to tie the series. Game 5 in Miami was won by the Spurs, which left them needing just one win to win the championship.
The Headband Game Unfolds
The Spurs started the game much stronger, opening a 12 point lead by halftime. At the end of the third quarter, the Heat were trailing 75-65 and in all likelihood, it seemed the Spurs were headed for a win. However the Heat went on a 20-7 run at the start of the fourth quarter, with Tim Duncan completely shut out of the scoring statistics. With 9 minutes remaining in the game and the Heat trailing 80-75, James went for a dunk and as he knocked through the rim, Tim Duncan Knocked his headband off. It fell to the ground and James did not bother to pick it up or take a replacement that was thrown into the court.
Without the headband, he took over the game.
Two plays after losing his famous accessory, he made a winding layup and then blocked a Tim Duncan shot in epic fashion. In the ensuing drive, he made an off-balance shot off the glass, to tie the game 82-82. With 28 seconds remaining in the game, the Spurs were ahead 94-89 and officials started making preparations for presentation of the trophy to the Spurs. James missed a three pointer but the Heat kept possession, eventually resulting in a pass from which James made a three pointer. From the resulting inbounds pass, the Heat fouled Kawhi Leonard, who then missed one of his two free throws.
On the following drive, James missed a jumper but Chris Bosh collected the rebound and passed to Ray Allen. Allen, then considered the best three point shooter in history, stepped back behind the line and made a three-pointer from the right corner to tie the scores with 5.2 seconds left in regular time.
In overtime, the Heat defended a 101-100 lead for nearly two minutes before adding two points from the foul line with just 1.9 seconds left. The Heat, thanks largely to James had revived their hopes of a championship after having seemed down and out.
Aftermath of the Headband Game
James’ headband, which had been for all kinds of reasons from keeping sweat out of his eyes to hiding his receding hairline was the subject of debate across the States for a long time after the game. For Miami fans, the feeling was unilateral; it should be gone.
In game 7, with his famous accessory back across his forehead, James scored 37 points to lead the Heat to a 95-88 for a second consecutive NBA title. James would return to Cleveland after the championship, helping the Cavaliers to win the 2016 NBA title, with the headband now permanently retired.