The NBA season has come to an end, and probably not the ending that LeBron and Co. were looking forward to closing out their tenure with the Miami Heat. But don't worry LBJ, there's always Space Jam 2. Here's guest writer Tony Garcia with his recap on the series...
Ding, dong the witch is dead. LeBron James and the Miami Heat were obliterated in the NBA Finals by the San Antonio Spurs 4 games to 1. Most of the national headlines were written the same way: HEAT LOSE, HEAT CHOKE, HEAT THIS, HEAT THAT. Very few outlets are giving credit where credit is due. The Heat didn’t choke. LeBron James didn’t lose his wizardry. A champion was crowned the other day and all the talk leading up to now has all been about the Miami Heat. Never before has a 2nd place finisher been so overhyped in the media.
I know this is going to come off like I’m a crazy person, but maybe we should be giving credit where credit is due? I mean, it’s not like the Heat were out there playing alone and throwing up bricks left and right. Basketball is the one sport I admittedly can’t go over the Xs and Os and know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m not exactly Tony Roundball but I know what good basketball looks like. I did live through the Bulls dynasty of the 90s. So I always use those squads as a reference point.
There was a reason the Heat looked like hot trash. The San Antonio Spurs happened and happened in a big way. The hyped up Heat were no match for the team game of the Spurs. Let’s emphasize that team concept here, especially in the last 3 games of the series. The first thing that jumped out at me was the ball movement by San Antonio. It seemed like there was always an open man somewhere on the court. Miami had no answer for it. But ball movement is only the first part of the equation. You have to hit your shots when called upon. The Spurs did just that, finishing with the highest shooting percentage of any NBA Finals champion. There was a stretch in the series where I didn’t think the Spurs would miss a shot. It didn’t matter if it was Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw or Patty Mills…shots were raining down. Combine that with a hall of fame coach and a willingness to accept your role on the team and you have a championship formula. Congrats to the Spurs on their incredible run.
Personally I find pleasure in watching a group like the Heat lose. Nothing feels more artificial than the way that team was built. From “The Decision” of LeBron James to the championship parade before they even played a game together, everything about that team felt so fake. I think they were damned from the beginning and in the end got what they deserved. Sure, they won two championships but that has to seem like a failure. It sure seems like a failure to me. When Wade, Bosh and LeBron all got together and decided to do this I’m sure they didn’t envision only winning two championships. And now there’s talk of that team being dismantled and going their separate ways. The team that America loves to hate could be finished. That will be the big story of the offseason in the NBA. What will the Heat big 3 do?
Meanwhile in San Antonio they will be gearing up for another championship. The ageless Tim Duncan has a player option in his contract for paltry $10 million. That will leave the Spurs with enough cap space to still contend for yet another championship. Kawhi Leonard is a budding star. If the Heat were the most artificial team in existence, the Spurs have to be considered the opposite. They’re more organic than Whole Foods. Most of their team was drafted and developed to play in their very specific team system. Putting together a sports team is a puzzle. The Spurs have the right formula and have found the right pieces.
What amazes me most about both the Heat and the Spurs is the makeup of each team. The Heat are mostly comprised of Americans that play the schoolyard, flashy, me-first game. The Spurs are really the opposite. They come via France, Argentina, Italy, Brazil and Australia. Even their biggest “homegrown” star, Tim Duncan, grew up in the US Virgin Islands. It is widely known that the international game is much different than the American game. The international game stresses fundamentals and team play. Who better to showcase that to the world than actual international players. I guess we here in the states call them foreigners. Or you can just call them smart. Or winners.
Good on the Spurs for dispatching America’s Most Hated Team. Let’s pump the brakes on the LeBron vs Jordan debate. There is no debate. There can only be one king and it’s not LeBron James. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Michael never tried to join forces with Barkley and Malone. He went out and did things on his own. If LeBron were smart, he’d go back home to Cleveland and play the rest of his days trying to earn the love back from the people. He can win a championship in Cleveland and if he did, I believe a lot of people would respect that. It’s been said LeBron cares about public perception. Time to do some right and go back home to the city you burned, LeBron. Then lose to the Bulls once we get Carmelo.