MIAMI - Chris Bosh sounded a message loud and clear for some Heat fans.
“For all those guys that left, make sure they don’t come to Game 7, we only need the guys who stayed in the building for the whole game,” Bosh said Wednesday, drawing laughs from the media on hand.
The rare occurrence of a star athlete taking his own team’s supporters to task prompted a firestorm of support via Twitter for Bosh — many even from disgruntled Raptors fans who don’t care much for the former Toronto all-star.
Hundreds of patrons fled American Airlines Arena late in the fourth quarter of Game 6 Tuesday when the Spurs appeared to be closing in on the title.
“You never give up, they can stay where they are and watch the game at home,” he continued.
Many of the spectators realized something was up and tried desperately to get back into the arena, without success.
“They were saying: ‘I just left! I just left! Please!’ ” an arena worker told cbssports.com Tuesday night.
“They’d run up there, then they’d run back here trying different doors to see if they could get in.”
Bosh said those aren’t the real Heat fans, the ones that support the team to the bitter end.
“You can’t get let back in — hell, I know that, I’ve been to games. You left. It’s not punishment; that’s protocol,” he said.
Bosh added that Game 6 was the best game he’s ever played in and said he was still exhausted and felt like he barely survived.
“To come out of that alive is like a whole new lease on life.”
Some members of the crowd were on Bosh early when he was missing jump shots and getting lit up by Tim Duncan, but the veteran rallied to play a splendid second half, including the game-tying assist to Ray Allen.
Bosh then came up with two crucial blocks in overtime, including the game-saver, on a Danny Green attempt.
Bosh now has compiled four double-doubles in the Finals after collecting just two over the first three rounds of the playoffs.
THAT FAMOUS HEADBAND
After losing his headband, LeBron James was a different player on Tuesday.
He attacked the rim more, started making shots and hauling inhaling rebounds.
“I guess it’s like when Bruce Lee tastes his own blood. It was an incredible performance by him,” Bosh said.
James said he last remembered playing sans headgear as a rookie in the pre-season. He said he’d be wearing it to start the game Thursday, but no guarantees if it gets knocked off again.
Shane Battier joked that the Spurs suddenly couldn’t stop James anymore because they didn’t recognize him.
“They thought he was somebody else. Maybe his cousin Larry. Larry James. So he was able to use a little stealth down the stretch,” Battier said, smiling.
According to multiple reports, talks between Boston and the Los Angeles Clippers have started again and expectations are that, this time, something will get done.
Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett would head to Los Angeles for DeAndre Jordan and a first-round pick or two. The picks would be compensation for Boston letting Rivers out of the final three years of his contract.
AROUND THE RIM
With his third-year option picked up, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, who has had extensive discussions with new GM Masai Ujiri about where the team is heading, is eager to get started. Casey said he wants to take advantage of the significant athleticism on hand and mix in more “defensive pieces,” particularly, more veteran toughness … The NBA has to be loving the past two Finals. First, James and Kevin Durant squared off and now this classic has delivered boffo television ratings. Game 6 was one of ABC’s highest-rated games ever and Game 7 should do far better … It only took Andrew Wiggins one practice to wow the basketball world with a monster dunk. The Canadian prodigy is already getting rave reviews … A wrong was righted when Jerry Sloan and the Utah Jazz got back together on Wednesday. Sloan was head coach in Utah for 23 years before leaving, largely because of Deron Williams a few years ago. Now he’ll be a senior advisor … According to the Dallas Morning News, the Mavericks will trade the 13th selection of next week’s draft in order to maximize cap space … Former Phoenix head coach Alvin Gentry has now met twice with Memphis about taking over there.
FINALS BY THE NUMBERS
18: Previous Finals Game 7s.
14-3: Home team record in those 18 games.
0-5: Away team record since Washington upset Seattle in 1978.
11: Playoff Game 7s for Miami’s Ray Allen, breaking the record he shared with Bill Russell.
4: Career Finals triple-doubles by LeBron James. Only Magic Johnson (eight) has more and James has the previous four Finals triple-doubles.
5: Players besides James with triple-doubles in possible elimination Finals games (Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Wes Unseld, Jerry West and Bill Russell)..
786: Three-point percentage by Mike Miller (11-for-15), which would be best ever for Finals series that go six or more games. Danny Ainge (66.7% for Phoenix in 1993) holds record.
3: Teams that have come back from down 3-2 in a 2-3-2 Finals (1988 Lakers, 1994 Rockets, 2010 Lakers).
9-3: Heat’s record at home all-time in NBA Finals.