Minus all the gushing, Spurs keep getting it right
MAY 28, 2013 2:05p ET
If the Lakers didn’t emerge from the West, surely it would be the Oklahoma City Thunder of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and a year of Finals experience.
And the San Antonio Spurs?
Please. Give us a break, we said back in October. Their window closed in, like, 2009. They haven’t been to the Finals since 2007. They’re old, boring, irrelevant and pretty much just useless.
Their top players are Tim Duncan, who’s about 100 years old in real life and 217 in NBA years, and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. What have those guys ever done?
OK, no one really disrespected the previous accomplishments of Duncan (four championship rings), or Parker and Ginobili (three apiece), but we all just figured that little slice of American history had run its course.
The Spurs possessed enough experience, talent and depth to put together a nice regular season, we all assumed, but no way do they have the legs to last when it matters.
And talk about dull, man.
The Lakers added Howard and Steve Nash to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
The Thunder banished James Harden to Houston on the day before the regular season.
The LA Clippers, armed with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, added Jamal Crawford and were already considered everyone’s favorite dark horse.
They did nothing last summer other than select someone with the second-to-last pick in the draft — quietly going about their business while Hollywood celebrities danced and the good folks of Oklahoma City coated themselves in white, all in anticipation of the season ahead.
Well, guess who’s going to the Finals, kids?
Oh, we’ve already heard all the excuses. The Lakers were injured and disjointed all year, and never got a chance to come together in the playoffs when Bryant tore his Achilles’ tendon. And there may be some merit to that.
Or how about Westbrook’s knee injury? Surely, the Thunder became considerably less imposing without him.
But that has little to do with the Spurs — or what they’ve accomplished.
They have been at their best when it means the most, giving the Memphis Grizzlies, and those before them, a lesson in basketball as it’s described in an encyclopedia. The Spurs pass, they cut, they backdoor you into embarrassment.
They’re equally effective inside or out, and possess perhaps the league’s craftiest point guard in Parker, who blows past everyone and makes teammates look so much better. If it weren’t for Miami Heat star LeBron James, Parker would have to be considered the postseason MVP.
Then there are Duncan and Ginobili, both of whom can stink all game but then come back to kill you at the end.
On top of all this, the Spurs are better-than-solid defensively, with shooting guard Danny Green not only developing into one of the NBA’s most lethal 3-point marksmen but a guy who harasses opponents into utter frustration.
Others such as big men Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner and Boris Diaw are less-than-flashy and force nothing, staying within the system and totally comprehending the Gregg Popovich way.
All of the Spurs seem to know that if Popovich coached somewhere like L.A. or New York or Boston, he’d be mentioned in the same sentence as Phil Jackson and Red Auerbach much more frequently — that he is perhaps the largest reason this team of run-of-the-mill (and probably over-the-hill) stars continues to confuse and irritate a basketball planet that’s obsessed with turning the fundamentals into a highlight reel of infinite gushing.
Now, some folks will continue with their excuses. They'll continue to talk about the key injuries to other teams and call the Spurs nothing more than a band of that took advantage of circumstances.
That’s fine. The Spurs don’t care. Never have, never will. And while the rest of us are sweating over The Next Big Basketball Moment, they just keep doing their thing.
Basically, the Spurs just keep creating that moment, leaving the rest of us to genuflect over the things with considerably less substance.
They just keep playing basketball the right way, the Popovich way, the way that actually wins.
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