June 26, 2013

Which was better: The NBA Finals or the Stanley Cup?

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball, Ice Hockey

It only took until late June, but North America’s two winter sports have finally wrapped up their seasons. Yes, the NBA and NHL finished their finals in spectacular fashion as well. There is plenty of evidence that between the Heat-Spurs seven-game epic and the Blackhawks six-game triumph over the Bruins will go down as instant classics.

But the real question is, which one was better? Well that what blogs like this are for.

Star power

The NBA takes this without a doubt. When you have the biggest star in your sport, LeBron James, going up against on the best players of his generation – or of all time – in Tim Duncan, you win automatically. That’s nothing against Zdeno Chara, Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane; they just don’t matchup. And that’s not even including future hall-of-famers Dwyane Wade, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker on the NBA side.

Memorable games

How can you top the Game 1 triple OT in Chicago? The NBA had its share of close contests and incredible runs – including an OT game of its own – but the NHL takes the edge here. Even the fact Game 2 also went to OT on the heels of the opening marathon adds to the NHL’s argument here. You could argue that Games 6 and 7 in Miami were worthy, but just not quite.

Breakout performances

It’s hard to give this to any of the NHL guys since both these teams have won the Cup recently. The exceptions are the two keepers, Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford, who both played outstanding in the series. But it’s hard to overlook what two Spurs did in the Finals. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green had amazing series and Green even broke the record for most three-pointers hit in a Finals.

The fans

The NBA sticks out here for all the wrong reasons. Miami Heat fans are among the worst in sports. Between leaving Game 6 before their team’s comeback to wearing all white to Justin freaking Bieber, there’s no way they get the nod over the NHL’s faithful. The one sidenote is that the NBC affiliate in Detroit didn’t even show Game 6 and that one affiliate ran a promo during play in Game 4’s overtime and missed the winner, but that’s just dumb networks’ fault.

Deciding game

This is a tough competition, but the answer is easy. To see the Blackhawks score the game-tying goal and the game winner within 27 seconds and with just under a minute and half to go was simply amazing. Game 7 of the Finals was about as close they come, with the Heat only pulling away in the final minutes and the Spurs never feeling totally out of it. But, obviously the NHL wins this one.


This one is a toss-up. Between the Blackhawks’ series-winner and the Heat making their fans look like idiots with their comeback in Game 6, there’s no shortage of competition. But it seemed like every game of the NBA Finals had a great comeback or incredible run and that gives it the edge.


The Heat won their second title in a row and are approaching dynasty status … the NHL had the more appropriate start times of 8 p.m. while the NBA’s weekday games were at 9 p.m. I understand that you want to give the west coast some time to get home and watch, but the NBA was just penalizing young fans on the east coast who likely couldn’t catch the end of most games … the NHL lockout is now in the back of many fans minds – not mine – which is quite the accomplishment. But never forget that this wasn’t a full season and shouldn’t be treated as such – like the Heat’s first title last season.

Final decision

This one comes down to the wire, but I’ve come up with one real deciding factor. Asking myself, ‘which would you rather watch if they were both on at the same time?’ and the NBA comes out on top. There’s just something about playoff ice hockey that can get tedious at times. There are more shots blocked than on target and the games get too defensive and sloggy, especially between these two teams. It turned out to be almost NBA-like that you could simply just watch the end of the games to really get the result and story of the game. But in the NBA Finals, every game was about the little runs throughout it that made the series incredible.

So, nothing against the NHL, but you’ve fallen just short of the NBA in this competition.

Leave a Reply