Every Monday morning, Section 215’s Akiem Bailum gives an in-depth and unfiltered look at all of the latest sports news in The Monday Morning Realist. You can follow Akiem on Twitter @AkiemBailum.
Last night, another NBA season concluded.
Last night, another NBA season concluded the way four others since Michael Jordan’s second retirement concluded—with the San Antonio Spurs hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Realists, I predicted that the Spurs would win in seven games when I did my championship preview at the outset of the NBA Finals given that after what happened in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals when the Spurs snatched defeat from the shark’s jaws of victory that they wanted it too badly this time. It probably gave every single one of the Spurs nightmares over the offseason.
Those nightmares turned into sweet dreams once again in 2014. San Antonio didn’t only beat the two-time defending champion Miami Heat in five games, they dominated the Heat in five games. The Spurs were not (as veteran teams never are) intimidated by the venue either. The Spurs probably could’ve beat the Heat if these games were played at the O2 Arena in London instead of Texas or South Beach.
Plus, the fact that 22-year old Kawhi Leonard won MVP is extraordinary in itself. It’s 2014 and yet it still feels like 1999 when San Antonio won its first of five.
Now, they’ve earned one for the thumb.
Since the second “retirement” of MJ, the Spurs have now won just as many championships as the Lakers in the same span of seasons. Plus, where as the Lake Show has been shrouded in internal drama, the Spurs (for what we know) never gave us any of that. As the Seahawks’ Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch would say, “they’re just about that action, boss.”
So, Realists, it’s time we pick some bones with a few folks at ESPN and other media outlets. The Spurs have been the most consistent team in the league since Jordan won his sixth title with the Bulls in 1998. So why does the level of coverage they get resemble more like that of a team that only averages 20 games a season instead of five NBA championships?
When dynasties in the NBA are mentioned, basketball pundits love to drone on about the good ol’ days of Bill Russell’s Celtics, the Larry Bird Celtics, the Magic Johnson Lakers, MJ’s Bulls, and even Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant’s Lakers of the early 2000’s.
What about Tim Duncan’s Spurs?
Could it have something to do with the fact that the NBA has produced dynasties coming out of Boston (big city/market), Los Angeles (big city/market), Chicago (big city/market), and…San Antonio?
Remember (the Alamo) that San Antonio is the tenth largest city in the country by population but is considered to be a small market.
Honestly, look at the amount of press that a good portion of the basketball punditry has given to LeBron James. Remember the last two years after NBA Finals, Realists? ESPN ran so many puff pieces on King James we thought that they’ve unofficially renamed the Bristol campus after him!
While the press runs puff pieces on LeBron over there, the Spurs were busy ignoring the media noise over in Central Texas.
Also, if it is one thing this NBA Finals proved it’s that Tim Duncan has been the player of this generation after Jordan’s retirement. Not Shaq, Kobe, Allen Iverson (apologies to Philly fans), or the King. Tim Duncan. If the Basketball Hall of Fame isn’t already working on his bust as we speak then somebody is entirely asleep at the wheel. He’s beaten LeBron in two out of three NBA Finals since 2007 and is now the only player (besides John Salley) to win championships in three decades.
This Rodney Dangerfield’ing of the Spurs amongst hoops pundits in suits is nothing new. We remember even as far back as when the dynasty was beginning that press (and even the league) didn’t want to see the Spurs win. They’re not a team that throws down monster dunks and doesn’t have a bunch of players who think they’re already on Hollywood.
Plus, Gregg Popovich’s teams have been known to emphasize (gasp!)…defense! A team that wins championships but may only average 80-90 points a game while holding opponents to under 80? Oh the horror!
Oh the horror. Oh the horror of winning five championships, press.
Other than to hype ratings for flashy teams, how the press consistently ignores the Spurs when talking about the great dynasties is beyond me. But, of course Realists, championships are not won at the studios of ESPN. They’re won on the basketball court and the San Antonio Spurs have a very good job of that since 1999.
Repeat after me, pundits. This. Team. Is. One. Of. The. Greats. Repeat again.