By now, LeBron James is comfortably perched in his hometown Ohio and itching to play for the team where it all started for him–The Cleveland Cavaliers. Most of us never expected him to leave the Miami Heat and his not-so-super-friends anymore. And living up to his character, LeBron did. Guess what? I wrote about at NBA.com Philippines that he may end up leaving Miami after getting a spanking from San Antonio. So I’m re-posting the piece I wrote on June 14, 2014. And here it goes:
Photo: San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan center, is joined by his daughter Sydney, left, and son Draven, right, during a news conference after Game 5 of the NBA basketball finals against the Miami Heat on Sunday, June 15, 2014, in San Antonio. The Spurs won the NBA championship 104-87. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
It’s been a week since the San Antonio Spurs beat the bejesus out of LeBron James and the Miami Heat. I intentionally refrained from writing a piece so I could relish to the bones one of the most lopsided victories in the modern history of the NBA Finals since the Spurs obliterated, yes, King James’ Cleveland Cavaliers via a sweep in 2007.
Happy for Tim Duncan, the greatest power forward of all time, Gregg Popovich, one of the best coaches in our midst, and the Spurs in general after re-establishing how basketball should be played–the old-fashion, team-first way.
The super team just beat the Super (manufactured) Team.
I have five (not one, not two, not three) thoughts though about the NBA Finals.
First, what if the Indiana Pacers didn’t give up Kahwi Leonard, the NBA Finals MVP whom it picked at No. 15 overall in the 2011 rookie draft only to trade him for their starting point guardGeorge Hill? Could Indiana be the one hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy instead of the San Antonio? And how could a talent like Leonard could have gone back as far as No. 15 over an intriguing set of players led by the Cav’s Kyrie Irving?
It probably didn’t help that the Pacers had Paul George and Danny Granger, who play the same position as Leonard, that time. But man, if they knew Leonard is this good, they would have kept him and find a high or medium average PG like Hill elsewhere.
My second thought is how Boris Diaw was maligned as being fat but played that good? On an NBA stage this massive and in a level of this magnitude? Maybe the basketball gods were good to Diaw, who have jumped from the Atlanta Hawks, who have drafted him in 2003 at No. 20, to the “Seven-Seconds-Or-Less” Phoenix Suns, to the hapless Charlotte Bobcats, who have thankfully reverted to the old Hornets, before landing in Spurs uniform along with fellow Frenchman and long-time buddy Tony Parker.
Speaking of the 2003 draft class, Diaw is one of the many who won a championship. Of course, Darko Milicic (2nd) was the first to ever tasted a title in the Detroit Pistons’ 2004 run. Followed byDwyane Wade (5th) in 2006 witht he Heat before he was reduced to a carcass in this year’s Finals, Matt Bonner (45th) in 2007 and now, Luke Walton (32nd) and Josh Powell (undrafted) in the Los Angeles Lakers’ back-to-back conquests in 2009-2010, and finally LeBron (1st), Chris Bosh (4th) and James Jones (45th) for the Heat in 2012-13.
Interestingly, the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony (3rd), the Chicago Bull’s Kirk Hinrich (7th) and the Pacers’ David West (18th) have yet to win one.
Third, this is a series Popovich won.
With the series knotted at one game apiece after splitting Games One and Two, Coach Pop inserted Diaw into the starting line up in place of Brazilian Thiago Splitter. It was brilliant and a masterstroke because momentum shifted from there. The Spurs were just unstopable starting in Game Three. So dominant that San Antonio won its last three games in the NBA Finals by an average winning margin of 19 points including a 19-point and a 21-point drubbing in Miami’s own turf and right before their class-less fans, who left as early as the first quarter when their team were receiving the spanking.
Photo: Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) and LeBron James (6) slap hands on the sideline during the second half in Game 5 of the NBA basketball finals against the San Antonio Spurs, on Sunday, June 15, 2014, in San Antonio. The Spurs won the NBA championship 104-87. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Fourth, the win further shore up Tim Duncan’s legacy.
Five NBA crowns, perhaps six if Miami didn’t get lucky last year, three Finals MVP, two MVP, one All-Star Game MVP, 14 All-Star appearances and so much more. He helped carry the Spurs in the top five of best team in the NBA next to the Boston Celtics (17 titles in 21 Finals), the Lakers (16 in 31) and Michael Jordan and the Bulls (6 in 6).
Most importantly, The Big Fundamental started a gentleman and will end like one with his faith and loyalty on his team. Not some people I know who jumped ship when the boat was sinking.
Hats off to you Timmy. Please stay one more year.
Last but not the least, this series, as much as you don’t want to admit it, will also be remembered for LeBron’s Game One cramps, Wade’s disappearance and Manu Ginobili’s posterization of Bosh, who is being paid more than what was being paid of Duncan, Manu and Leonard combined.
“The Decision” boys’ dream run is over. Nightmare follows. So if you have notions of the Big Three getting back to its feet again, forget about it. The Spurs have thought everyone a way to refute it. Team effort still works and teams that were bought are beatable. But we’ll see if the Big Three of Miami will still work. Assuming they return next season. But I wouldn’t be surprised if LeBron jumps ship again and make “The Decision 2.0.” I mean he did it to the Cavs, he can do it to the Heat.
And oh, I thought you will win not one, not two, not three? I guess it stops in two, not three, but two.
Postscripts: Somewhere out there, His Airness and Kobe Bryant must be smirking their smirks knowing their only company in the three-peat feat club are just George Mikan and Bill Russell. And no else. Try harder next time, boy…Welcome to the Philippines Kevin Love. I hope you get traded to the Celtics and join Rajon Rondo there. It’s equally interesting though to see you in Golden State Warriors uniform. I mean a Stephen Curry-Andre Iguodala-Kevin Martin-Andrew Bogut-Love starting five should be entertaining.
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar