First post, from a Spurs fan who followed David Robinson to the team in '89 and ended up living in SA by serendipity. I don't want to seem like I'm just riding the high from last night's win, but this year's squad leaves me with a quiet confidence I've never had before. How confident? I want the Heat rather than the Pacers. I want James.
I'm flirting with hubris, you bet. LeBron is the greatest player in the game today, definitely the greatest athlete to ever play the game, and potentially will retire as the gold standard for another century of hoops. In the NBA, the team with the single best playmaker holds a huge advantage over its opponent, and all credit to Tony Parker but he's not in LeBron's tier. No Spur is. On top of that, the Heat are playing a very high caliber of team basketball. Not Spurs quality, but it's a thin margin. The Spurs will enter this series as huge underdogs.
And that's exactly why this will be the most epic Finals victory in franchise history.
All credit to the greatest gentleman to ever play the game, but this isn't The Admiral's championship squads. This isn't the young Big Three's squads, with perfectly serviceable role players for the regular season that got a little exposed when everything got dialed up to 11 in the playoffs. This is the best team with which the Silver and Black has ever entered the Finals campaign.
Duncan is not just more spry then he's been in years; he's playing with a quiet ferocity that uplifts everyone around him. If you looked only at body language, you wouldn't recognize Splitter as the same player that he was when he joined the team; his confidence has soared as his superb defensive work has gelled. Leonard gives me goose bumps; he's so much more than Bruce Bowen 2.0. Green is one pleasant surprise after another. And of course Parker ... Tony has become the single deadliest playmaker in the game who can't dunk taking off from the free throw line. Admittedly, Manu hasn't been the Manu of old, but that's OK. He's an old fencing master who still has a few moments like last night's nutmeg in his arsenal, and every second he's on the court the opposing players have to fear that this is going to be that moment.
Most importantly, this Spurs unit is so much more than the sum of its parts. There's been NBA teams with far more talent, the Showtime Lakers for starters, but I can't think of any that have synergized that talent as well as this team.
This is a team that needs an archnemesis to conquer. Nothing less will do it justice. More power to them for being the pit fighters that Memphis couldn't keep being, but the Pacers would be nothing more than a legion of yellow-clad stormtroopers. This team needs a Darth Vader, a foe of such outstanding reputation that beating him eradicates any questions. Beating him cements legacy. When the dust starts to settle on this dynasty, the legacy that No 21 will leave behind is that, more than being the best 4-man in league history, Tim Duncan may have been the best teammate in league history.
LeBron is the mountain that this team can and must scale to make that come into focus.
Bring it, Miami.