Security was in place for a postgame trophy presentation when Ray Allen hit this game-tying three. (Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)
MIAMI — For 53 minutes on Tuesday, the Heat and Spurs engaged in an all-time great basketball game, one that saw star performance after star performance and required an overtime period to settle. Despite ticket prices in the hundreds or thousands of dollars and the fact that it was Game 6 of the Finals, many fans in attendance at American Airlines Arena didn’t bother to stick around until the game’s dramatic conclusion.
A significant portion of the home crowd streamed for the exits as San Antonio held a five-point lead in the closing minutes of regulation. When LeBron James and Ray Allen hit back-to-back three-pointers to force overtime, where the Heat ultimately prevailed 103-100 to force a Game 7, a number of the fans unsuccessfully attempted to reenter the arena, according to reports.
The early exit from the fans wasn’t the only late-game off-court point of contention. Many Heat players saw that preparations were being made for a trophy presentation to the Spurs, as security staff surrounded the court to create a celebration zone.
“I noticed it,” James said, following what he called the “best game” he’s been a part of during his 10-year career. “We saw the championship board already out there, the yellow tape. That’s why you play the game to the final buzzer.”
Dwyane Wade added: “That’s why we love this game. It’s unpredictable. Only thing you can do when everything looks dim and dark, you just have to keep going. When they brought that yellow rope and you know you’re not the one that’s going to celebrate, we kept fighting and believing. We played to the last minute, the last second.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said that the crowd’s early exit and the post-game security preparations didn’t distract his team’s focus during a tense endgame.
“Come on, at that time I don’t think anybody noticed,” Spoelstra said. “That’s probably the best way to live in life is in the moment, and that will guarantee you’re in the moment.”