MIAMI — You'd think Chris Bosh could have rested easy this summer.
You'd think, as the center settled into the offseason following another Miami Heat triumph, he could have dimmed the lights, shut his eyes and drifted away, into sweet dreams of Champagne-dousing and ring-sizing. You'd think that any memories of Game 6 of the NBA Finals would have been an endless loop of celebration, of him securing a critical rebound, whipping the ball out to Ray Allen and watching it sink slowly through the hoop.
"Weeks after the game, I was waking up thinking we were still playing, and it was the worst feeling in the world," Bosh said. "Because I didn’t want to play basketball. It was crazy. I didn’t want to be in that situation anymore. It was so stressful. I wasn’t having any fun playing basketball until it was over. And I’d wake up, and I’d be like, 'All right, we got to guard the pick-and-roll!' Then I'd realize, 'Oh, it's over.' And then I’d be like, 'Golly, you know, I couldn’t imagine if I was those guys.'"
The San Antonio Spurs, the team that visits Saturday for a preseason game at AmericanAirlines Arena, the scene of the crime.
They are the other side of the Heat's glory story.
"I know how I feel," Bosh said. "But their nightmare follows them. I couldn’t imagine it. We were still shell-shocked, and we won. But just to come that close..."
A five-point lead with 22.9 seconds left in Game 6, prior to LeBron James' three-pointer from up top.
A three-point lead with 6.3 seconds left, prior to Allen's three-pointer from the corner.
An one-point lead with 2:03 left in the overtime.
A two-point lead late in the third quarter of Game 7.
"I mean, just like...what happened was divine," Bosh said.
For the Heat.
For the Spurs?
It was the Nightmare on Eighth Street...and Biscayne Boulevard.
"They came one rebound away from a championship, and their best rebounder at the time, it just goes through his hands," Bosh said of Kawhi Leonard. "It’s just crazy how things like that happen. I mean, just change the sequence of events. And it’s funny, you can’t really look at, if he woulda, if he woulda, I mean, what happened happened, and it’s crazy."
The circumstances have become no less crazy upon each viewing for him, nor for his teammates. Some, such as Bosh, Mario Chalmers and LeBron James, have seen Game 6 repeatedly. Others, such as Erik Spoelstra, have stumbled across it.
"I watched edits, when we started getting ready for the season in August," said Spoelstra, who has spoken of the need to put it behind them before the opening of a new campaign on Oct. 29. "I watched offensive and defensive clips in August, to get ready for the season. But other than that, I’m not throwing it on and sitting back and going, 'Wow, look at that. That’s awesome!' But you see it enough on TV or around the arena. I’ve seen Ray’s shot countless times."
So has Udonis Haslem, even though he, more than any other Heat player, preaches the need to "move on to the next."
"It's hard not to see the 'get the ropes out of here' play," Haslem said. "But besides that, I haven’t watched the games. Everywhere you turn, you see that. And you get to read Ray’s lips. I’m not going to say exactly what he said."
Haslem laughed. The sight of that scene—and Allen's emphatic expletive—certainly don't stir the same emotion in the Spurs.
"The guy probably most responsible from a skill standpoint of me being in the NBA coaches on their staff, Chip Engelland," Shane Battier said. "After the initial euphoria of winning first subsided, my first thought was Chip. I can only imagine what those guys went through last summer. And the emotions of seeing the yellow rope. The yellow rope symbolizes a lot for us, and I’m sure it symbolizes a lot for them too. Yeah, it was such a short summer. It was hard enough for us to get back in the swing of things. I can only imagine how they felt trying to turn it on again."
Chalmers isn't eager to empathize. Over the summer, he watched Game 6 and 7 roughly six times each, as a means of reflecting on "how much hard work we put in, just how hard it was to win it." Still, all the odd occurrences didn't seem quite as strange to him.
"Nope," Chalmers said. "Because of the Kansas-Memphis game."
That was the 2008 NCAA championship game, which his Jayhawks won 75-68 in overtime after Chalmers tied it in regulation with 2.1 seconds left.
"I’ve been through those situations before, so I’m not shocked," Chalmers said. "I’ve seen it happen before. The missed free throw. Three-pointers. I’ve seen it done before. Anything can happen. But I would hate to be on the other side."
The closest he's come was with the Heat, losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals in six games. But that wasn't as traumatic as what the Memphis Tigers or the San Antonio Spurs endured. It didn't come down to one rebound, one shot.
Does he ever consider what that would be like?
"I can’t," Chalmers said. "I don’t want to. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to know what that feeling is. Nope. I don’t want to think about it."
So will he put his arm around a Spur on Saturday, in sympathy?
He shook his head and smiled.
What about Bosh?
"You want to feel sorry for them," Bosh said, laughing. "But better you than me."
Ethan Skolnick covers the Heat for Bleacher Report.