Spurs Turn Motivation and Teamwork to Gold

Sports
Photo from NBA.com

Photo from NBA.com

We all saw the Miami Heat busting through the preliminary playoff rounds. In fact, the dominance the Heat exerted in the past two months was so convincing, that I called a Heat three-peat.

Signed. Sealed. Delivered. But not quite.

The San Antonio Spurs rubbed off the signature, broke open the seal and shoved the delivery off a cliff. The vets — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili — led the team to a crushing 104-87 Game 5 victory. And leading up to that, the squad demoralized the boys from South Beach with Game 1, Game 3 and Game 4 sweeps — not even close. The closest win? 15 points. The point spread of the sole loss? 2 points.

An NBA finals series manhandling as pure as this one may never be seen again for a long while. This Spurs team showed off pure teamwork and dedication — no cliche. The locked future hall-of-famers did not come close to the MVP Finals trophy. Instead, they moved out of the way for 22-year-old young gun Kawhi Leonard — the man of few words who dropped his career-high 29 points just last week.

The craziest thing is that Leonard adding the Finals MVP hardware to his trophy case doesn’t begin to explain the Spurs team. Collectively in the five final games, the Spurs’ Patty Mills hit 13 threes to Ray Allen’s 9. Boris Diaw came up huge toward the end of the series in ways that don’t grace the stat sheet. Danny Green had his moments, as did Marco Belinelli.

Cap that off with Coach Gregg Popovich providing the game plan — “move or die” — and it fused together to form a fundamentally sound, well oiled machine. Motivated by last year’s heartbreaking loss to the Heat, rarely were smiles cracked until that last second ticked off the clock.

No matter what NBA team you root for, you have to appreciate it. The Spurs are historic.

I wasn’t alive during the Showtime Lakers era or the majority of the Michael Jordan Bulls era. To be able to see this decades-old Spurs team exude this level of confidence over the incredible span of time is something special.

Calculated and always prepared, the international team in Texas has swept the stereotypes of basketball age. Five rings in 16 years. Drop the mic.

The tank is fluttering on empty and I don’t see a gas station nearby

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At 7:16 p.m. (PT) tonight, I tweeted this:

The Heat did not just crumble tonight, they were pulverized into dust. What happened?

I could rattle off some stats, but I think the following facts can speak for themselves.

Patty Mills’ hands turned to gold as he sunk three after three, finishing with 14 points. Boris Diaw almost notched a triple double. Coach Spo gave Toney Douglas playing time. Kawhi Leonard dropped 20.

Notice that I haven’t even mentioned Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli — it’s because I don’t have to.  You could’ve sat Parker and Duncan the entire game and (basing this solely off points scored) the Spurs still would’ve walked away with a win.

I haven’t mentioned LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh either — two of those three didn’t bother showing up. And combined, their plus-minus plastered a whoppingly low -53.

That was Game 4. No team has ever come back from a 3-1 series deficit. The sort of good news for Miami is the new 2-2-1-1-1 NBA Finals format allows them to return home *if* they win Game 5 — that is a huge ‘if.’

With the way the Spurs have been shooting and whipping the ball around, who knows if anyone can beat them at this rate. The Spurs have turned basketball into an art form, while the Heat are turning it into a bloody mess.

NBA Finals Media Questions Go Wild

Sports

My dream job is to cover the NBA for a website or newspaper or magazine, and I’m entering my senior year of college working my way there. But for now, I live vicariously through the reporters who are currently out there in the field, traveling to the NBA Finals games. I follow a good amount of them on Twitter.

Usually after games I’m reveling over their witty remarks, and reading various game write-ups. Tonight looked slightly different. I noticed an abundance of media commenting on questions that were being asked in the postgame pressers. And it wasn’t just Coach Pop being Coach Pop — I’m talking questions from way out of left field.

CJ Folger (@cjzero) tweeted out the following Youtube video of a question by this guy, Bobby Ramos. The reactions by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are pretty priceless.

Then, there was also this question by Ramos. Again.

A strange media night capped the historic game in which the Spurs completely went off on the Heat, winning 111-92. A Twitter search for “Bobby Ramos” speaks for itself.

Additionally, I’d use his question blunders as a cautionary tale for myself. Nothing dies with social media.

 

Shaq delves into empire business

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Shaq Salute

Kazaam. seven-foot-one, listed at 324 pounds, with a flashy smile and a wild attitude. Combined, those features only describe one man: Shaquille O’Neal.

Once upon a time Los Angelenos loved him. Even though he couldn’t sink a free throw to save his life, he averaged 27 points per game alongside 11.8 total rebounds while playing for the Lakers. He and Kobe put on a show, giving the City of Angels three consecutive championship parades.

Then it ended in an instant with the infamous Kobe-Shaq fallout in the season of 2002-03. Before anyone could bat an eye, O’Neal stood before a crowd in Miami and promised the Heat fans a championship. In 2005-06, with the help of Dwyane Wade and crew, he delivered.

I guess all the villains take their talents down to Florida to break hearts.

However, Shaq never won another ring after that. Meanwhile, former teammate Kobe Bryant never let up, securing the Lakers two more Larry O’Brien trophies.

Now, Shaq spends his days commentating with the likes of Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith on TNT. He also added a doctorate in teaching from Barry University in Florida to his resume.

Considering he’s the guy who said, “Doesn’t matter.  If I would’ve had a beer before the game, I would’ve been drunk.  So I don’t believe in ‘if,’” Shaq surprised most by returning to the classroom and finishing with a 3.8 GPA.

And now, the original Superman proceeds to his next mission. As of this week, he owns a piece of the Sacramento Kings. Mull over that slowly.

Shaquille O’Neal, who played on the Lakers’ era team that had a fierce rivalry with the Kings, decided to dip his hand in the franchise. While his actions may be questionable, his reasoning is classic Shaq.

As reported by the Bleacher Report for the LA Times, he said: “I’ve seen the [arena] plans. I don’t know if they’ve talked to you about the plans, but woo–wee. That’s all I can say: woo-wee. Oh, you know what, that’s our new slogan: ‘Sacramento: woo-wee.’”

Woo-wee is right. His journey from young, brash center to movie star to partial team owner can be accurately described with no other phrase.

Perhaps he can lift the Kings out of their precarious state in the League, or perhaps the move is just for show. Michael Jordan owns the Charlotte Bobcats. Sometimes I honestly believe non-NBA fans don’t know that a team called the Bobcats exists.

At 41 years old Dr. O’Neal has a lifetime ahead to crack more jokes and delve into anything else he’s ever dreamt of. If next up he runs for the governor of Florida or POTUS, I’ll question nothing.

Whatever he chooses, to me, he’ll always be the one LA big man that shattered backboards and refused to cut Kobe a break in the media limelight.

Can you dig it?

As published in the Pepperdine University student-publication, the Graphic.