Nov 1, 2007

Go Ahead and Crown Them!

Before I get to my NBA preview, NFL picks, and whatever else I want to do, I felt the need to post something I wrote about the Spurs during last year's finals in contrast to "King" James. I've been desperatly trying to find a reason to pick against them this year, but stumbling across this reminds me why they won last year. And why they are going to win again this year...

I haven’t written a single word about these ‘Finals’ since everyone went ahead and re-crowned Mr. James last week. In watching the final four games of the Leastern Conference Finals, I felt myself tempted to fall into the teeming masses, to sip the champagne and gold Kool-Aid the LeBrons were serving, wondering if Kal-El would stick as a nickname. Then, I remembered who they were to be playing in a little under a week’s time…and promptly dropped my cup. I sat back and watched the talking heads debate, and argue what chance this poor team actually had against the Spurs, the cream of the playoffs this year. I was wrong about the Pistons being the better team, as they fell apart at the seams, and sat back and watched while LeBron ascended into the sphere of NBA transcendent talent. I was wrong about Mr. James’ ability to dominate not only a game, but also a series. 25 straight points to end game 4? 29 of the last 30 of his team’s points? Really? No hard fouls? Couldn’t you at least get in his way? I was right, however, about the weakness of the Least, and the talent gap between the two conferences. I was right about LeBron still needing to understand when and where to take over a game (Games 1 and 2 of the Finals) and when to let the others carry the load (Game 6 of the Conference Finals). But most easily, I was right about the San Antonio Spurs. No matter who they’re playing, they remain unfazed, undeniable, and, most importantly, themselves. The Spurs just keep being the Spurs.

2-0 doesn’t begin to describe how one-sided this series has been thus far. LeBron has proven that the Conference Finals cannot truly define a player, something most of us knew, but had forgotten. The Finals are where legends are born, not the Semi-Finals. We are all again Witnesses, but not to the arrival of the boy that would be King, but more for the coronation of the dynasty that is the Spurs. Since Tim Duncan’s arrival, this franchise has been a consistent presence deep into the playoffs, year after year. Who else can you say that about in recent memory? Exactly. And the scariest part is, in the first two games, he hasn’t been his team’s most outstanding player. Sure, he continuously posts spectacularly solid stat lines, (last night: 23 pts, 9 rebs, 8 asts), but the single most impressive player through the first two games has been the little Frenchman that could, Tony Longoria. While I applaud the gratuitous shots of his future housewife, I’ve got to celebrate his on-court performance even more. At one point last night, he caught a pass, with a wide open top of the key jumper available to him. Instead of taking the easy shot, he chose to drive the traffic-filled lane, and drop in a running floater, which danced around the rim, eventually falling. Smart basketball play? Hell no. But, given the hot hand he’s shown thus far, who can really blame him?

Now, all you Cleveland fans, I want you to repeat after me, slowly. Ready?

The – Spurs – are – not – the – Pistons.

Let that sink in. Seriously, get a glass of water, take a deep breath, say a little prayer. Just let it get all the way to your core, so that any visions of the run ya’ll put up against Detroit can be quietly put to bed before Robert Horry and co. force you back to Earth. Flip Saunders is not on the opposing bench, Rasheed Wallace is not patrolling the lane, and Chauncy Billups is not running point. You’re facing down an all-world coach in Greg Popovich, a legitimate candidate for Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) at his position in Tim Duncan, and a point guard who is lightning out of a bottle, Tony Parker. Well, what should Cleveland fans do now? Exactly what your team appears to be doing so far; be happy to be there. Bottle your hopes of a win, or even an overly competitive series, and enjoy the ride. Be glad you’re in the Finals, and hope that no one gets hurt too badly. Shake off the memories of Miami’s miracle 3 in a row at home from last year, Tim Duncan is most certainly not Dirk Nowitzki, and Big Z is no Shaq. Denny Green told us months ago that, “If you want to crown ‘em, crown ‘em.” He meant the Bears, but I’m crowning the Spurs, and maybe doing something I never thought I would: I’m not making any predictions (because we’ve all seen how that turns out), but if things continue as they are, we might be seeing our first French Finals MVP.

I will now Phil Leotardo myself under a car.

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