Seven years ago, ESPN debuted a documentary that was met by a level of excitement within me that hadn’t been witnessed before.
It was based on a story in which I had a lot of familiarity. It was based on a story that I’d had the privilege of discussing with many who played intricate roles in the outcome. It was a story that found itself at the forefront every March. And it is a story that always tugged at the heartstrings of graduates of my alma mater.
It was the story of the North Carolina State University 1983 Men’s Basketball Team. And their destiny that culminated with them doing what others thought was impossible to capture a national championship that is still talked about decades later.
Before then, my level of excitement about a documentary hadn’t been matched. Since then, it hadn’t been matched.
“I have the best family and friends ever,” no truer words have ever been spoken.
Today, is the last day of Black History Month. Today marks the culmination of a push across America to squeeze in as much information into the minds of those who will listen about the contributions of black people in America. While today signifies the end of the collective focus, spanning various races, it does not signify the end of the cycle to educate, highlight and uncover facts that need not be ignored.
But that’s not why I’m here.
I could go on and on about the lack of teaching when it comes to black history.
What does that mean exactly? Well, my life often revolves around sports. I have been known rearrange activities or even skip them because “the game” is coming on. I watch SportsCenter daily. I read ESPN.com daily to stay abreast on the latest happenings. And I answer at least one question a day from someone regarding something sports related.
I went to bed early Wednesday night and I wish I had not. I mean I needed to be at work early the next morning. Since I am not a morning person, regardless of how much sleep I get, I knew I needed to go ahead and get some shut eye.
I was watching the end of the second quarter between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers. It was a tight game that could either way. However, what was most intriguing about the game was the immortal Tim Duncan. Timmy was being Timmy. In the first half, he was seven of eight from the floor for 16 points. He was tossing in floaters, posting up one the the league’s best defenders, DeAndre Jordan, and he was creating space to allow his teammates to knock down easy baskets.
For some reason, the Twitterverse was shocked. I was more shocked to see Steve Blake still in the league playing for the Portland Trailblazers. There was absolutely nothing shocking about Timmy doing the same thing he has been doing for the past 17 years. Were people shocked because he will be 39 on Saturday? Were people shocked because he plays for the Spurs, a team many label as boring? Or were people simply shocked because it was Tim Duncan.
Those people made me laugh. If it was Kobe Bryant or LeBron James or Kevin Durant, shock would be the furthest thing from their mind. Newsflash, ain’t nobody doing what Timmy has done for as long as he has done it. The man is immortal. He barely ages. His energy level has barely diminished. And after watching him play last night, I am convinced that he is capable of catching up with Michael Jordan this year in the rings department.
For 17 years we have been witnessing greatness and we better embrace it while he is still dishing it out. He has stayed true to himself since he raced up and down he courts at Wake Forest. He will not draw you in with his cockiness. He has none. He will not draw you in with his outward display of emotion. It is rare that you see it. He will not wow you at a press conference. He is not a many of many words. Where he will wow you is on the court. Watching him play makes me smile. His fundamentals are some of the purest I have ever seen.
Often, I do not hear Timmy’s name mentioned in the top 5 category. Let me tell you this, Tim Duncan is one of the five greatest players to ever step onto an NBA court. Want to debate it? Come on. I have plenty of facts to back it up. Until then, sit back, relax and enjoy the Timmy show! #GoSpursGo
Well. Well. Well. I cannot remember an NBA off-season being so dramatic in a loooooong time. Every day I wake up, it is the same story. Where will LeBron end up? Will Carmelo stay in New York? Will Bosh leave the sunny beaches of Miami to head west to the humidity in Texas?? Goodness. Make it stop already. I know these are not easy decisions for these players but goodness. Make it stop already.
Due to my lack of NBA excitement, the only player I am in really interested in finding out where he lands is LeBron. I like LeBron. Always have. But if he goes back to Cleveland to play, all respect I have for him goes out the window and into the deep blue sea. The fact that Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert, just had his infamous letter removed off the website last week is an indication of how little respect he has for LeBron.
Yes, I know this is a business but in this instance I need LeBron to “man up.” Playing for Gilbert should never be an option again. NEVER. It is that simple.
I have not watched the NBA consistently since around 2004. The year the Pistons won the chip. I remember very vividly how much I liked to watch them play, together. Plus who did not love hearing John Mason croon out “Deeeee-troit Basketball” over the PA system a few times during the course of a game.
Last night took me back to those days. The days when I would sit in front of a tv for over two hours watching men run up and down the court. The days when I would squeal with delight when a player made a play that would have me hopping out of my seat(ala Ginobli throwin it down on Bosh). The days when basketball was played as a TEAM. Watching the San Antonio Spurs dominate the NBA Finals was a thing of beauty. The passing, the shots, the unselfish play, the adjustments, the patience, the coaching…just beautiful. I have never seen the game of basketball executed so beautifully.
The Spurs are the type of team I grew up watching. In the 90s, I loved watching the Bulls play. I was a “fan” of them just like everyone else. I enjoyed watching them execute the triangle offense with so much precision. While they had a dominant force in Michael Jordan leading the way, everyone, including MJ, played their role and they played it well. When the NBA started shifting from the team game to having one major superstar, a few semi-stars and a bunch of bench fillers on the team, I checked out. There was nothing enjoyable about that style of play.
So back to last night. Here I was, gleefully, watching the Spurs put on a clinic, reminiscing on the old days. Happy to see old school basketball prevail. I think it is safe to say only a handful of people around the world picked the Spurs to dominate the Heat. Shoot, I did not even see many people picking the Spurs to win(I did) which was baffling considering they were 25 seconds away from a championship last year. However, the Spurs made it obvious in Game 1 that they were seeking three things: revenge, redemption and a fifth ring. Check. Check. And check.
From the rejuvenated Tim Duncan to the elusive Tony Parker to the sparkplug Manu Ginobli to the silent assassin Kawhi Leonard to the reliable Boris Diaw to the dagger Patty Mills to the trigger Danny Green to the confident Tiago Splitter to the mastermind Gregg Popovich, the Spurs executed the very finesse that is basketball. The game is team first. It is next man up. It is fun. It is resilient. It is exciting. It is selfless. That is Spurs basketball. However as good as they are, I heard so many people moaning and groaning about them playing in the Finals again that I have to wonder if we have become so accustomed to only being able to equate success with individuality that we have failed to realize that success often comes in the form of a team? Whether it is your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, church family, etc, there is often a group of individuals that pushes and holds us up as we climb the ladder of success. The joy I saw on the Spurs bench was nothing short of a complete team celebrating in an accomplishment that they all contributed too. And hopefully, Timmy will not retire and they can do this again next year. Fingers crossed.