Who’s the other team?
Is it just me, or is anyone else disgusted by the way the media is covering this NBA Finals series? Yes, I know that Miami is a lot more marketable to casual fans than San Antonio. I get it. But I don’t accept it. It’s sickening. This is a sport, with the very best in the world competing for the biggest prize in basketball. That, in of itself, should be enough from a marketing standpoint. We as fans shouldn’t be subjected to such fabricated drama of the Miami Heat. And it really shouldn’t surprise me.
But it does.
What we have seen from this Spurs team (yes, there is another team in the finals) has been nothing short of remarkable. First of all, think of the age of the core of the Spurs. Tim Duncan is 38. Manu Ginobili is 36. Tony Parker is in his 14th NBA season. Gregg Popovich has been coaching the Spurs for 17 seasons. They’ve won 4 titles together. But with those 4 titles, there has been soul searching. In 2011, despite being the number 1 seed, they lost in the first round to Memphis. In 2001, they were swept by the Lakers. In 2006, they lost a game 7 at home to Dallas after being up 3-1. In 2004 they lost on the 0.4 shot by Derek Fisher.
But nothing compares to last year’s heartbreak when they were a couple of free throws away from a championship. And for them to be able to respond the way they have all season is beyond impressive. They never put what happened in game 6 behind them. They used it as motivation. They were pissed off by it. And the last 2 games (two 20 point wins in Miami) has been shocking. I mean, no one saw this coming. And they are not satisfied.
Let’s remove all the hyperbole for a minute: The Spurs are the epitome of a classy organisation. They don’t give up on each other. They trust each other. They move the ball so beautifully and efficiently. Not one player, past or present, says a bad thing about how they conduct business. And I am not a Spurs fan in the slightest. I am completely neutral to them. But I can’t help but admire them. They should be how all (not just sporting franchises) are constructed: with respect and integrity.
Miami has a bit of that in them too (remember how they retired Jordan’s #23 despite never playing for them?), but the problem is the way the league is obsessed with them. Log on to ESPN for a second and look at the headlines on their home page and NBA section and it is all about Miami: “Does Miami need help?” (despite having such a deep roster that they can randomly insert Rashard Lewis in the starting line up in the middle of the playoffs and watch him perform brilliantly) , “are the Heat tired?” (San Antonio had a much tougher road to the finals than Miami), “what’s wrong with the Heat?” (Do we really think we’d get that kind of questioning if Miami was crushing San Antonio), “will Melo come to Miami?” (lol.)
Seriously, when is this going to stop? The Spurs are a historic team. The Duncan era is surely coming to an end in front of our very eyes, and all ESPN and CBS and Fox and NBA.com are concerned with is Miami? Can we get some love for this team that is on the verge of winning its 5th championship in the span of 15 seasons?
And when we dig deeper, we find the problem with professional sports: There is very little substance anymore. All integrity is gone. The Spurs have somehow been labelled as a “boring” team when in reality they are a pleasure to watch. The “boring” narrative has been created by the media who have this fetish of creating individual superstars that supersede the importance of the team concept. San Antonio shits all over this premise and has shown that the better team is greater than individual superstars. Genuine basketball fans love this, and casual fans are confused as all hell about it because everything they have learnt is coming undone. But they have to realise what they have been taught is guided to make them feel compelled to purchase products and has absolutely nothing with the promotion of good basketball.
So let’s enjoy what’s left of the finals and appreciate what is in front of us with this Spurs era. It’s been a glorious ride, and if this is the last ride for Timmy and maybe Manu, then there is not a more appropriate way for them to exit than to lay a huge beat down on maybe the most controversial and contrived championship team in the history of the NBA.