Not since the “Showtime” iteration of the Los Angeles Lakers team involving Magic Johnson, Kareem Jabbar, James Worthy, A.C. Green, Michael Cooper, Norm Nixon, “Silk” et. al., and the Houston Rockets with Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon and Clyde “The Glide” Drexler, have we seen such an amazing display of team basketball as that which we were privileged to witness during the NBA Finals, courtesy of the San Antonio Spurs.
And it was just in time, after the sordid soap opera involving Donald Sterling and his would-be paramour in which he displayed his inferiority complex and racial jealousy in a racially inspired rant that embarrassed even the hitherto shameless NBA. To tamp down a potential insurrection by NBA players and to reduce risks of a backlash by advertisers and sponsors, the NBA was forced to ban Donald Sterling from ownership of an NBA basketball team.
The NBA — and, indeed, U.S professional sports — was burnished by the performance and character of the San Antonio Spurs. A team in every sense of the word, they exemplified the best in competitive sports — they worked hard, played hard, respected their opponents (no trash talking!) and respected each other. They “shared the ball” and the glory.
When Stuart Scott of ESPN attempted to confer stardom on Kawhi Leonard, Leonard would have none of it, instead crediting his teammates for pushing him to use his basketball talents.
Perhaps the fact that San Antonio is not a major media market accounts to some degree for the absence of ego-driven basketball. No doubt it has to do also with a coach and an owner who do not want to posture as “stars” a la Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. And Tim Duncan’s selflessness as a player clearly sets the tone for the younger players.
The bottom line is that it is gratifying to see that good guys can finish first. The NBA may have at least temporarily dodged a bullet, thanks to the San Antonio Spurs, Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich.