It is difficult to question the zen master. It's like telling Mr. Miyagi to wax off, wax on. But having just watched the culmination of the playoffs ending with one of the most physical players in the league being crowned Finals MVP, I couldn't help but ruminate.
As I watched the Finals series, I was struck by the balls-to-the-wall playing style of both teams, at times throwing what we call "classic basketball" out of the window and resorting to running-back style forays into the middle that tended to work out pretty well. A whistle would get blown or it would get dished out to someone outside LeBron and Wade, Westbrook and Harden, all did the kind of plays that would make us armchair point guards clutch our Lay-Z-Boy-supported backs in pain. They used their bodies as if there wasn't going to be a next season.
There's really only two people on the Spurs with this sort of playstyle, and only one that has shown his body can take it. Manu and DeJuan throw their bodies around with callous disregard. I'd like to include Tony in this group, but it really isn't the same consistency with him, as we saw in the last four games of the San Antonio Spurs' season. Sometimes he wows you with his sturdy frame, and other times he just wants to le finesse the ball into the hoop. Manu is el Contusion; he gets so nasty he forgets he is almost kind of bony and tends to be lighter than whoever is guarding him or waiting for him in the paint. And we all cross our fingers and hope he's not hurt this time.
When DeJuan joined the Spurs, we all fell in love with him because he had a wrecking ball aspect that we were just not used to seeing. I am going to go out on a limb and say Dennis Rodman was the last guy we had with this much unadulterated hustle, but I didn't see him play. This shortened season, with Tiago, Jackson, and Kawhi rising, and DeJuan's game seemingly stagnant without a jumpshot, we saw him fall by the wayside. He was all but forgotten by the time the playoffs began, seemingly without a role on team with plenty of roles to go around.
We knew that Blair obliterated OKC in their last regular season matchup (22 points, 11 rebounds in 26 minutes) and were wondering when Pop was going to play his card. The reality is, he never played it. DeJuan never even got a chance to warm up. Instead we screamed at the screen as Tiago sometimes looked apathetic and Matt Bonner always looked useless. Neither of those men have that gleam in the eye that DeJuan does. He can miss ten shots, caused a couple of crappy fouls, and get no rebounds, and that primal gleam will still be there. That look that says "I am going to prove you wrong." That's the Rocky gleam.
Well Pop... What were you waiting for?
Blair Ownership of Thabeet (via JackhammerTinkerbell)