Posted by: coomercove | April 30, 2008

NBA: Spurs = Champs, Suns = Chumps

I’m not a huge NBA fan. I get interested two times a year: leading up to the draft and the playoffs. I also follow players more than teams (Go Duke!). The one exception is the San Antonio Spurs. Yes, it may be a little bit of bandwagon jumping, but I like them. This isn’t a new development. I became a fan of the team when Duncan joined the team. My like of the team has grown through the years, not because of their championships, but how the team is built, how it plays, and how they carry themselves. They are almost business like in all they do. They don’t rub it in win they win. They don’t make excuses when they lose. If they win, they win. If they lose, they do a little something to adjust and move on. They just play the game. Team chemistry means something to them.

For example, Luis Scola, a rookie for the Houston Rockets, is one of the top five rookies in the NBA this year. From his international play, everyone knew he was going to be good. He should have been a Spur this year. However, they traded him to the Rockets for next to nothing. Why? A small part of it was money. The other part of it was that Scola was a star on his overseas team. The Spurs didn’t think he would adjust well to being a role player, so they traded him. Turns out, they were wrong. He adjusted his game with the Rockets and fit in great with the team. Yes, the Spurs gave up a player that would have helped them this year and many more years. However, they did it because they did not want to upset the chemistry they’ve built over the last decade. In the “me first” and “win NOW” world of professional sports, I think it is refreshing.

On the other hand, you have the Phoenix Suns. Try as hard as they can, they still can’t beat the Spurs when it counts. They disrupted their entire team to trade for Shaquille O’Neal, thinking he would be enough to counter Tim Duncan and beat the Spurs. The Spurs had knocked the Suns out of the playoffs 3 of last 5 years. Whenever the Suns lose to the Spurs, the players and coaches always make little comments about how the Spurs got lucky, how the Spurs got all the calls, and how the Suns were still better than the Spurs. Even after last night’s game, Steve Nash said, “‘I think on paper we have more talent than they do.” The Suns just got their head coach, if not fired, on the fast track out of town. They had just been eliminated by the Spurs for the fourth time in their last five playoff appearances. It hasn’t even been close. Since 2003, the teams have met in the playoffs four times and the win-lose record is 16 – 6 in favor of the Spurs. Yet, their two time MVP is still saying the Suns had more talent.

That bugs me. They may have more talent on paper (ask the Yankees how that works for them), but they lost (again) to the better team. They need to quit making excuses and trying to make themselves look better than the losers they are. If they stopped talking about being better than the Spurs and spent the time learning from the Spurs, maybe they’d beat them in playoffs.

UPDATE: Henry Abbott writes the True Hoop blog on ESPN.  He posted the following and more today.

Shaquille O’Neal didn’t hit his free throws. Tim Duncan nailed an improbable three-pointer. Steve Nash made uncharacteristic turnovers. Boris Diaw lobbed a key pass out of bounds. The Suns had those suspensions last year, when Steve Nash was also hurt. Leandro Barbosa went cold. Amare was in foul trouble. Grant Hill tweaked his groin at the wrong time.

You can nitpick. You can generalize. You can what-if into oblivion.

But in the end, you could have the Suns play the Spurs in a thousand series — that practically has happened — and it certainly now feels like the Spurs would win 800 of them.

The Suns have always had to play exceedingly well to beat the Spurs. If both teams play reasonably well, however, like last night, the Spurs win.

And win. And win.

At the beginning of this series, Mike D’Antoni and the Suns said they believed they were the better team. At this point, we know that’s simply not true.

Congratulations, San Antonio, on yet another well-earned win.

Click here to read the rest of his post.

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Responses

  1. “At the beginning of this series, Mike D’Antoni and the Suns said they believed they were the better team.”

    What else would a coach say? No self-respecting coach would say otherwise. Ever hear a coach say going into playoffs “We have no chance”? That would be counterproductive. Given the Suns track record prior to his hire, replacing D’Antoni would be step backwards.

  2. I’m ok with saying that at the beginning of the series. You’re right. What else would they say?

    My issue is that the Suns keep saying it after every series that the Spurs beat them and prove that they are the better team.


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