Tag Archives: san antonio spurs

I Tighten My Belt ‘fore I Beg For Help

Early in this NBA season, one of the “things” that has cropped up, courtesy of an idea germinated on Reddit, endorsed by Grantland, and put into easy-to-follow visual form on its own website is the mythical NBA Regular Season Championship Belt.

Basically, it works like a wrestling or boxing championship belt.  You start with last season’s winner of the NBA Finals – in this case, the Miami Heat – and the belt is on the line in every game.  If the holder wins, they retain.  If the challenger wins, they are the new champion.

This season, the Heat successfully defended the title against the Chicago Bulls on opening night, but 24 hours later, the previously-assumed-to-be-tanking Philadelphia 76ers upset the champions and stole the belt, which they then successfully defended twice before getting steamrolled by the Golden State Warriors.

The San Antonio Spurs took out the Warriors on November 8, and then humiliated the New York Knicks yesterday before they brought the belt back to Philadelphia tonight.

Suffice to say, the Spurs are still the champs.

Regular seasons are long, and in leagues such as the NBA and NHL, where over half the league makes the playoffs, the season can sometimes seem like it doesn’t mean much.  This was started as a fun thing to keep track of during the season, and folks have gone back and tracked the belt back through the 2000-01 season.

And it certainly is a fun thing, but of course, I have a problem.  See, it’s the “Regular Season Championship Belt.”  So why, then, should last season’s playoff champ start out with it?  Why not the team that held it when the previous season ended?  On April 7, the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Los Angeles Lakers and took the RSCB.  The Clippers then won their next five games to close out the season as the champs.  So why, then, should the Heat inherit the title the following year?

You could argue that the Clippers lost it to the Grizzlies in the playoffs, who lost it to the Spurs, who then lost it to the Heat, and that’s how Miami got it.  However, I will point once again to the “regular season” portion of the name and say no.

So, if the Clippers retained the belt, who would have it now?  Well, the Clippers would have handed it back to the Lakers on opening night, who then would have lost it to the Warriors a day later.  Golden State would have held it for just one day themselves, as they lost to the Clippers.  Imagine that; the Clippers would have lost and regained the belt within 48 hours.  Drama!

From there, the belt would have passed to the Orlando Magic and then the Boston Celtics, who would still currently hold the belt after beating the Magic again tonight.

Actually, you know what?  Forget it.  I’d rather have the Spurs holding the belt than the Celtics.  Forget I said anything.

Another Kind of Green

Remember when I said I didn’t know who was going to win the NBA Finals, because even though the Spurs had three home games coming up, it was the Heat that could go on a debilitating run and blow out an opponent with relative ease at any given time?

I have three numbers for you: 113. 77. 0.

Those would be, in order: the number of points the Spurs scored, the number of points the Heat scored, and the percent chance that I have any idea what I’m talking about.

If I told you the Spurs blew out the Heat, and the leading scorer in the Finals scored 27 points in the game, who would you guess I was talking about?  Tony Parker?  Tim Duncan?  Manu Ginobili?

Try Danny Green.  And adding 24 points to the effort?  Gary Neal.

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of those guys.  But don’t make that mistake again.  There’s always a so-called “nobody,” a role-player, somebody you’ve never heard of, who steps up to help lead his team to a title.  Nobody knew who David Tyree was until he made a miracle catch in the Super Bowl that helped the Giants knock off the undefeated Patriots.  And while Jason Terry was certainly not a nobody, he still wasn’t the superstar everyone expected to carry the Mavericks past the Heat in the NBA Finals in 2011, yet there he was making shot after shot.

We watch sports because we want to see the biggest names on the biggest stage.  We fall in love with sports because of those guys that are a lot more like us making good when it matters most.

So yeah.  Danny Green.  He isn’t even the default Wikipedia entry for his own name!

Incidentally, Green played for the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2010.  A collection of flotsam and jetsam built around a star player, the Cavaliers earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs but lost in the second round.  They fired their coach and their star player left town.  Before the following season, they waived Green.

That star player for the Cavaliers?  LeBron James.  The same LeBron James that will have to carry the Heat to victory if they’re going to come back in this series.  If anyone can do it singlehandedly, it’s James.  But against the Spurs?  He can’t do it alone.

Who will step up for the Heat?  Who will be LeBron’s Danny Green?

Interestingly enough, if things had gone differently back in Cleveland, it could have been Danny Green.

The Heat Is On

Well that escalated quickly.

Game 2 of the NBA Finals was a five-point game at halftime.  During the fourth quarter, Miami led by about 30.  Yup.

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t home, so I missed the first half.  I may or may not have dozed off (food coma; went out with the family for an early Father’s Day dinner) during the third quarter, but even though Miami led by 10 after three, that game is still in doubt.

Well, Lebron James’ ridiculous block on Tiago Splitter kind of summed up how that went.  When guys get dunked on in a particularly vicious manner, you will hear them referred to as having been “murdered” by the dunker (example: the “#RIPBrandonKnight” thing).  It’s hideously insensitive in some ways, but at the same time, the gross exaggeration shows how violent some of these dunks are.  During the season, James annihilated Jason Terry of the Boston Celtics, a clip that was shown a number of times in the following days.  I think the block on Splitter was even better; Splitter is a big fella, and he even had the arm cocked back a little bit before the MVP said “no thanks, we’re full” and stoned him.  If dunking on someone’s head is akin to “killing” him, what do we call that sort of manhood-sapping block?

(I don’t have any ideas here.  I’m sure you thought I had something.  I don’t.  Sorry.)

Not to imply anything, but I knew what the end result of the game was likely to be as soon as I saw that renowned Tim Duncan-baiter Joey Crawford was officiating the game.  I wonder if the person who does the referee assignments has a sense of humor and is trolling the conspiracy theorists, or if there really are these alleged decrees from on high (i.e. David Stern).  Because if you asked any skeptic what the NBA might want here, it would be a Heat victory to guarantee a longer series (especially considering how rarely teams go home and win Games 3, 4, and 5 all in a row).  And if you want a Heat victory, that means a Spurs loss, and who better to oversee that than a guy known to have gotten into it in the past with one of the Spurs’ best players?

(Full disclosure: from what I gathered, the officials didn’t have an effect on this game.  And besides, it’s kind of hard to when someone wins by 19.)

The series is tied 1-1 heading back to San Antonio for the next three games.  I have written before about how much I admire the Spurs organization, and with that in mind, I would normally give the advantage in such an evenly-matched series to the Spurs in this situation.

However, Miami has Lebron James.  He’s enough to swing a series all by himself.  On top of that, the Heat are capable of going on those ridiculous runs like we saw tonight in a short period of time (a 33-5 stretch over about eight minutes), which makes them dangerous no matter what the time and score.

This is shaping up to be a great series.  Usually we have an idea of who should win; seeing whether they do or not is why we watch.  In this case, however, I have no idea what to expect.  But you can be sure that on Tuesday night, I won’t be sleeping through Game 3.

When You’re in Texas, Look Behind You

How about those San Antonio Spurs?

Despite being the second seed in the NBA’s Western Conference, most folks thought they’d lose to the Memphis Grizzlies in five or six games in the Conference Finals.

Well, the Spurs just won the series.  In four.  Swept ’em.

How does a team that sports the best coach in the league plus possibly the greatest power forward in the history of basketball keep getting dismissed like this?  “They’re too old,” they say.  “The run has to end at some point.”

No they’re not!  No it doesn’t!

Have you ever heard the adage, “don’t work harder, work smarter?”  Well, I don’t mean to say that they don’t work hard, because I have no doubt they do, but the Spurs organization is just smarter than almost everyone else.  It’s the only answer, really.  From the front office to the head coach to the players, the Spurs organization just does it, whatever “it” is, better than anyone else.

I’m not a Spurs fan, but I tip my cap.  Neutral sports fans will be in their corner if they face the Heat, and I hope that people really appreciate what they’ve been able to do in the past 15 years.

We don’t often see dynasties in sports anymore, and when we do, we generally don’t like them.  While they haven’t won the championship every year, the Spurs certainly count as a dynasty out West, and personally, I can’t bring myself to hate them even just a little bit.