Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Spurs appreciation

I'm really, really hooked on the San Antonio Spurs. They are one of the best basketball teams ever and it is thrilling to watch them play. So it really amazes me that they seem to be constantly dissed by the rest of the nation as either boring or now, in a bizarre flip-flop, as a team of thugs and cheaters.
I guess when you have a reputation as "good guys" for as long as the Spurs have had, it doesn't take much for people to latch onto to turn that around quickly. It reminds me of the political hype from presidential campaigns where sweeping judgments and stereotypes of candidates are based on flimsy and sometimes false evidence. But all it takes is for the charge to get repeated enough times and it sticks.
The Spurs remind me a lot of the 1998-2000 New York Yankees team I loved so much. They don't rely on a superstar to pull them through every game. Instead, they just play great as a team.
What is so great about the Spurs team is that they have so much depth off of their bench. The team is naturally built around their superstar Tim Duncan. But they also have two other superstars in Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili who can carry the team if Duncan is having an off night.
In addition, they have perhaps the best defensive player in the league in Bruce Bowen and then to top it off they have a whole bench full of key role players like Elston Howard and Fabarico Oberto to provide picks and blocks.
But their secret weapon is the fact that they have no fewer than five guys who are absolutely deadly from the 3-point range: Michael Finley, Bruce Bowen, Robert Horry, Brent Barry and, of course, Manu Ginobili. When they start hitting their three-point shots, it doesn't take long for a close game to turn into a 12-15 point blowout.

The Spurs just finished off the Phoenix Suns, who were probably the best team they will face in the playoffs. That means unless they fall apart and/or someone gets very lucky, they have a clear shot from here on out for their fourth NBA title.