Because Celtics-Spurs, although sure to rekindle memories, had no shelf life.
There were no illusions in San Antonio of anything enduring alongside Tim Duncan, just like the Celtics' Big Three recognized that even with another crowning achievement, their expiration was imminent.
Instead we are rewarded with the vitality of Heat-Thunder.
Young. Athletic. Charismatic. Built to last.
At least that's the popular narrative, because in the NBA the only true champion is an enduring champion, last season's Mavericks already consigned to the list of one-hit-wonders, the Bertie Higgins of titleists.
But with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh signed for the long run with the Heat, and with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden oozing youth for the Thunder, this is a matchup that not only has 2012 legs, but the potential for something lasting.
It certainly is not difficult to project ahead with these two teams, with Kobe growing old in the West, Derrick Rose possibly to miss all of 2012-13 in the East. Heat and Thunder stand as a long-range forecast.
Except to consider anything beyond the end of this season is to first consider when this season started, or more to the point, why it didn't start on schedule.
Although we have yet to have our first "asterisk" mention (it's just not the same with Phil Jackson out of the league), it surely is coming, if only because 28 other teams are not here and because 29 won't be emerging with the Larry O'Brien trophy.
NBA finals: Heat def. Thunder 4-1
Winderman: LeBron James has been a prodigy, superstar and villain. And now he's champion. The journey has left the league and Finals MVP humbled and happy for those closest to him.
No, the impact of the lockout is this:
This is the series, or at least the type of series, David Stern does not want you to see in the future, two teams loaded with All-Stars.
The entire point of the lockout from the league's perspective was competitive balance (under the guise of fiscal balance). Give the have-nots more of a chance by reducing the talent abundance of those who have been hoarding.
There is a difference, of course, in how these teams achieved their abundance.
The Heat paid for their talent up front, going bare bones for years (and 15-67 one season), in order to sign James, Wade and Bosh to eight-figure contracts with escalating raises.
The Thunder assembled their product on the layaway program, through the draft, with Durant's extension having already kicked in, Westbrook's set to start next season and bills due sooner rather than later with Harden and Serge Ibaka.
Granted, the Heat's Micky Arison and the Thunder's Clay Bennett can opt to go deep into the luxury tax once it becomes outright oppressive in 2013-14. But Arison already is on record as having voted against the new collective-bargaining agreement because of its lack of a hard cap, and Bennett's Thunder play in, well, Oklahoma City.
And that's the rub. As much as the theater figures to be compelling these next two weeks, with a finals featuring as much athleticism as the league has seen in years, there is a Part B to all of this:
Is it sustainable for either team?
In Oklahoma City, there already is debate about whether Westbrook or Harden is the keeper, whether the Thunder will be outbid for Ibaka, whether Kendrick Perkins proved to be too much of a salary-cap indulgence.
Even in the early years of the salary cap, there were ample exceptions and exemptions to maneuver around roster implosion. Dynasties ended only when the talent reached its expiration date. And with the luxury tax in its previous dollar-for-dollar incarnation, the sense, with teams such as the Lakers, was that the extra dollars spent could be offset by playoff revenue.
But in the impending NBA economy, justifying those extra tax dollars becomes more challenging. For example, should Harden and Ibaka be able to secure something in range of Westbrook money when eligible for free agency in 2013, it would put the Thunder about $13 million over the tax threshold, when the tax rate at that level would be $2.5 per dollar over, or a $32.5 million tax bill.
So what does all this accounting gobblygook have to do with these finals? Plenty.
Foremost, the Heat stand as the leading example of what happens when you max out the top of your payroll: You're left with Mike Miller, Joel Anthony, Norris Cole and James Jones off your bench.
Beyond that, the Thunder essentially will be auditioning Durant's supporting cast under pressure these next two weeks, to see who is worth keeping among their surfeit of talent, and who might be expendable.
When these finals had the potential for Spurs-Celtics, we took it as short-term nostalgia. It would have been compelling, just not enduring.
But Thunder-Heat? That was going to be different. That was going to be about seasons to come.
And perhaps it will be. Because few are smarter than Thunder general manager Sam Presti and few have deeper pockets than the Heat's Arison.
But as you watch this lockout season draw to a close, keep in mind the outgrowth of the lockout, a luxury-tax system that threatens the enduring possibilities of moments such as these.
Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.
PBT: Have the Grizzlies figured out San Antonio, or will tonight's Game 3 yield another win for the Spurs?
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
DPS: Is it really all about the rings?
DPS: Dan Patrick talks about Phil Jackson's comments about starting a team with Bill Russell now because of his championships and brings up the great question of, if it's all about championships, how come we don't talk about guys like Sam Jones, Frank Ramsey or John Havlicek who all have multiple rings?
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