Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

NBA Finals game about Spurs, not LeBron James


Undoubtedly, some of you are using this championship to talk about a 29-year-old man’s legacy, many years before it’s determined. For you, loyal NBA fans, I have but a simple request.

Stop talking about LeBron James. Just for now. Just for a little while. Please.

This year’s Finals were not about LeBron’s failures. After the Game 1 exit with cramps, LeBron played incredibly well, scoring above 30 points twice, and doing his best to carry his team to victory. And if you say LeBron should have played through the cramps, stop it. You haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about, and that’s putting it nicely. Dwyane Wade was next to useless, a husk of his former self at 32, no longer the player that won the NBA Finals MVP in 2006.

In the NBA, no player can carry his team to a Championship all by himself. Michael Jordan couldn’t do it, and LeBron – who is the best player since Michael Jordan, at least – can’t do it either. But enough about LeBron.

This Championship is really about three things, all San Antonio related. The Spurs won because of their system, one of the best bigs ever to play the game in Tim Duncan and one of the most exciting young players in basketball who should be loved and respected by all NBA fans in Kawhi Leonard.

In the movie “Hoosiers,” there’s a famous scene in which Gene Hackman orders the team of misfits he’s coaching to pass the ball a minimum of four times before they shoot. The extra pass led the less-athletic Hickory High to the Indiana State Championship, much like the ever-present extra pass led the Spurs to their fifth title.

To a basketball fan, the Spurs are an ideal ?basketball team. Their offense is perfectly timed, full of back screens for corner threes, perfect floor spacing and, above all, finding the open man. To use the cliché, the San Antonio offense is poetry in motion.

What I’m saying is Gregg Popovich is Gene Hackman.

Of course, having Tim Duncan doesn’t hurt. Tommy Deas, sports editor for the Tuscaloosa News, once told me Tim Duncan was the most fundamentally sound big man he’d ever seen. Duncan’s not huge, not a replica Shaquille O’Neal or even Hakeem Olajuwon.

His arms are long, sure, but there’s a reason people call him the Big Fundamental. His drop step is unstoppable. He’s in position before his defender has any clue what’s happening, and once he moves to the glass, there’s next to no chance of stopping him. Part of what made the 2013 Championship so shocking was the missed short jumper by Duncan in Game 6 – something I never thought I’d see in that situation.

In a Finals full of remarkable achievements, none should receive as much praise as Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

Leonard was a shutdown defender, one of maybe three players in the Association who could effectively defend LeBron James. Leonard’s one of the hardest working, most likable players in basketball today.

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