Spurs Claim Dynasty Tag
June 19, 2014
The nation realized in a span of less then two weeks that it is the San Antonio Spurs that can be tagged as a super team, not the Miami Heat. By completely dismantling the Heat in five games, I feel it is pretty safe to say that the Spurs are the best NBA team since Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in the 1990’s.
San Antonio has now won five NBA titles since Tim Duncan and head coach Gregg Popovich met back in 1999. You could come at me with the Los Angeles Lakers who have also won five championships since Jordan retired for good in 1998. But the Spurs get the edge in continuity and longevity. San Antonio has made the playoffs for 17 consecutive years. They’ve won at least 50 regular-season games in every one of those years except 1999, when the lockout shortened the entire season to 50 games.
Let me toss this out at you. The Spurs should be touted as the best franchise in sports. Duncan and Popovich have two more championships than the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick New England Patriots. And while Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees have as many championship rings as Tim Duncan, he has reached the World Series only once since 2003.
Tim Duncan celebrates the Spurs’ win
If you are still stuck on the Lakers, please keep in mind that San Antonio has reached two NBA Finals since Kobe and the Lakers won a single playoff game.
Please do not claim that the Heat in the same class as the Spurs. When this year’s Finals came to a close with San Antonio’s 104-87 clinching victory in Game 5, the Spurs had outscored the Heat by 70 points over the course of the series, the biggest point differential in NBA Finals history.
Personally, I find it refreshing how San Antonio is doing it. It seemed like the Boston Celtics and then the Heat had found the formula in the years since the Spurs last won it in 2007. Quickly assemble a team of established veterans including two or more superstars and win a title.
The Spurs stuck with loyalty, scouting and development. And patience. They kept their core of Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili together for more than a decade. Add the likes of Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who was a mid level first round pick in the draft three years ago, and Patty Mills who came off the bench to seemingly reach double-figures in scoring on a nightly basis to the core along with veteran role players like Danny Green and Boris Diaw and you have a roster for which even LeBron James did not have an answer.
What About LeBron And The Heat?
After suffering a one-sided NBA Finals defeat to the San Antonio Spurs, the Miami Heat learned that it is quite clear that changes need to be made. It all starts with LeBron James. After putting off getting serious about his free-agent decision for nine months, he now realizes the status quo will not be satisfactory.
James now knows that the Heat are clearly no longer a championship team. He will want to hear about plans for those changes before he decides where he will lace up his LeBron’s next season. James is in an extremely powerful position. He is a player in his prime with the right to be an unrestricted free agent and the off-court financial independence to be flexible in his salary.
This will allow him to exert his power either in the construction of a roster in Miami or elsewhere.
One has to think that James is focused on his legacy. That and establishing a financial empire prior to and during retirement like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan.
The question he will have to answer is just where is the best locale to meet those objectives? Can he afford another public relations hit if he bolts from Miami after being embarrassed in this year’s finals? Yet he could opt out of Miami and leave for a younger team with greater upside.
I think he will end up staying in Miami. But I do see him taking a pay cut after talking Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to also take smaller salaries. These pay cuts will make room for the team to add a star free agent to the roster.
RIP Tony Gwynn
Tony Gwynn, a Hall of Fame outfielder and the greatest player in San Diego Padres history, died at age 54 on Monday.
I was deeply saddened when I heard this news Monday morning. My first thought was that he was too young for this to happen. My second thought is that he is my age. Then I thought back to how I met him. Gwynn played baseball and basketball at San Diego State University, my alma mater, before being drafted by the Padres in the third round of the 1981 draft.
What a great guy. One could spend a minute or a day with him and never think you were with the best-ever left hand hitter in baseball history. His concern for others, along with his humor and lack of ego, is not the norm for superstar athletes.
The late Tony Gwynn
Gwynn reached the majors the next season and spent 20 years in the majors, all with the Padres, finishing with 3,141 hits and helping the club to its only two pennants in franchise history. Gwynn won eight National League batting titles and hit .394 in the strike shortened 1994 season, the highest single-season average since Ted Williams batted .406 in 1941. He made 15 All-Star teams and won five Gold Glove awards and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2007.
Gwynn passed after a four-year battle against cancer in his salivary gland, a vicious disease likely connected to his use of smokeless tobacco, a habit that is still too common in the game and in life.