Basketball, NBA, Sports

How sweet is redemption?

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.

{Source: Google Images}
{Source: Google Images}

 

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.

 

{Source: Google Images}
{Source: Google Images}
{Source: Google Images}
{Source: Google Images}

 

{Source: Google Images}
{Source: Google Images}

 

Basketball, Controversy, NBA, Sports

Did I really see what I think I saw…

[Source: Google Images}
[Source: Google Images}

Last night, with 20.1 seconds left in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, I tweeted that “Twitter is about to meltdown in 20.1 seconds.”  At that point in time, it was clear that the San Antonio Spurs were about the clinch their fifth championship and the crucifixion of LeBron James was about to occur. Then the unthinkable, the inevitable, the unimaginable happened. What I thought was going to happen did not happen because what I thought was going to cause what I thought would happen did not happen. Let that sink in for a minute.

With 20.1 seconds left, the Spurs had a commanding 5 point lead. The celebration rope had been brought out, the Larry O’Brien trophy was in the tunnel and the James slander had begun to commence. With Tim Duncan on the bench, the Miami Heat was able to rebound a miss and kick the ball back out to James who buried a three to cut the lead to two. Ut oh. Next, a young Kawhi Leonard to fouled and was sent to the line with the Mount Everest task of nailing two free throws to put the Spurs up four and ultimately clinch their fifth championship. That is a lot on a young man’s shoulders. Leonard hit one of two free throws. Then that unthinkable, unevitable, unimaginable thing that I talked about earlier happened. James missed a three pointer, Bosh grabbed the rebound and kicked it out the the greatest three point specialist of all time, Ray Allen. And what does Allen do? What he normally does, drains it!!! Just like that he sends the American Airlines into a frenzy and gives us some free basketball.

Wait a minute!! What just happened?? How did this just happen?? And why was Duncan on the bench, again, during that sequence?? Normally I do not question Gregg  Popovich because like I said yesterday, he is a genius but he made two questionable decisions down the stretch that may have cost him his fifth ring. Manu Ginobli had a horrible game!!! This guy was a walking, raging turnover machine all night. Yet, Pop left him in the game. Then, you have the undeniable questions surrounding your best player, your best rebounder, your franchise player, Duncan, riding the pine at such a crucial time. Makes absolutely no logical sense whatsoever. Pop, you have some splaining to do.

Game 6 was without a doubt one of the best NBA Finals games I have ever seen and it will be hard to top if on Thursday. As much as I want the Spurs to win, I am not sure they have enough left in the tank to grab the championship they let slip through their fingers last night. However, I know from experience that when your body is tired, your heart takes over and the Spurs have enough heart on their team to will them to victory. One thing is for certain, around approximately12am Friday, someone’s Hall of Fame resume is going to another line added to it. Will it be Duncan or James? We shall soon find out.

Until next time….TOODELLS.