I’m rooting for the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals and I don’t care who knows or if they like it.
And it has nothing to do with LeBron James or hating the Miami Heat.
Instead, it has everything to do with being a fan of basketball. Oh, and being old.
We’ve all been told that the Spurs “play the right way.” To be honest, I have no idea what that actually means. If you’re in the NBA, chances are, you’re not an idiot. Chances are, you understand the game.
But the Spurs do play the Spurs Way. They’re disciplined, they’re intelligent, and with the exception of Manu Ginobili, they rarely pull a Manu Ginobili – or force a shot that causes coach Gregg Popovich to enter full military mode.
It’s also cool how players who don’t come to San Antonio playing Spurs basketball quickly adapt. Boris Diaw used to be fat and lazy. Danny Green used to be a nobody. Kawhi Leonard was expected to be a reserve who played a bit role. And Ginobili is still Ginobili, but when you arrive as a risk-taking commando and can win, you get a pass.
Or how about Tony Parker?
When was the last time a team won a title when its best player was the point guard?
You can say the Spurs in 2007, when Parker was named Finals MVP. But let’s not kid ourselves. That was still Tim Duncan’s team.
Before that, you’d probably have to go back to 1990. That’s when the Detroit Pistons’ Isiah Thomas was known for something other than running franchises into the ground as a front-office executive.
Anyway, back to today’s Spurs.
This is their first Finals appearance since that ‘07 sweep of James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It wasn’t until about two years later that we nudged them out of relevancy.
We said they were too old, too broken down, too boring and needed to get out of the way.
Then came last offseason.
The Los Angeles Lakers landed Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. The Philadelphia 76ers got Andrew Bynum. The Nets moved to Brooklyn.
Know what the Spurs did? Yeah. Nothing.
And we didn’t even find them interesting enough to care. We just figured they would put together another solid regular season, not receive (or deserve) any love from the national television networks, then quietly wither away when it mattered.
It is, after all, how they spent the past half-decade.
And they sure weren’t getting riper in the process. Supposedly rotting was more like it.
Duncan turned 37 years old in April, Parker 31 in May, and Ginobili will be 36 in July. Most of the time, guys like that are sitting in a broadcast booth – not trying to take on James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Now, again, this has nothing to do with any Northeast Ohioan animosity toward LeBron. I don’t hate him, I don’t hate the Heat, I don’t hate anyone. (Although Wade has indeed become highly annoying since he learned not everyone was performing cartwheels when the Big Three pranced around on a stage three years ago.)
Nor do I define the Spurs as a team that plays the right way, or the Heat as a team that does not. They both have systems, they’re both dynamic, they both would make worthy champions.
But it’s human nature to pick a rooting interest – even if, as an alleged journalist, it may be frowned upon.
Well, guess what? I don’t really care about that, either.
I just appreciate what these Spurs have always been and where they still are today, I just like good basketball and how the game is played by those who are supposed to be past their prime.
Mostly, I just believe the Spurs Way is a really cool way.