The NBA Finals have turned into old school vs. new school.
In one corner, we have the Miami Heat, the darling of ESPN. They are a highlights editor’s dream, filled with spectacular passes and high-flying dunks. They were put together through the highest profile free agency season ever when LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade to form basketball’s latest “big three”.
On the other hand, if you are above 40 years old, you have an appreciation for the San Antonio Spurs, led by Tim Duncan, an all time great looking for his fifth title as an important member of his team.
The Spurs were built through the draft, shrewdly picking international players like Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tiago Splitter, and shrewdly grabbing guys like Kawhi Leonard in the draft and signing role players like Danny Green.
And San Antonio has perhaps the best coach in the professional ranks in Gregg Popovich.
The younger generation think the Spurs are boring, because they play below the rim and have unassuming superstars, who rarely draw attention to themselves.
The Heat have the preening James, the perpetual scowling Wade, and Bosh, who screams like he won the lottery every time he makes a big shot.
The older fans think the Heat is all that is wrong with professional basketball, with their roster of three all-star players, a couple of decent role players and a bunch of stiffs. They’ve become the place where guys nearing the end of their career go to try to pick up a championship ring.
But they think the Spurs play the game the right way. The move the basketball, play solid defense, and just go out and do their jobs. They are business like in their approach, as opposed to the “look at me” Heat.
The Spurs play like the great NBA teams of the past, and we aren’t talking about the Bulls of the 1990’s and the Lakers of the 2000’s. We are talking about the 70’s and 80’s, when teams moved the basketball, and the game wasn’t someone pounding the ball at the top of the key, waiting to break someone off the dribble and drive to the hoop.
Sure, occasionally Parker does that, like he did in Game 1 when he kept his dribble alive, falling down, getting back up, and hitting a leaner off the glass to clinch the win. However, by and large, the Spurs score by executing and making open jump shots. They usually are a very good three-point shooting squad.
They are like the old guys who play the kids at the Y, and keep winning and staying on the court because they understand the game, and use the mental aspect to create mismatches and points.
And on defense, they know how to grab and lean into players just enough to knock them slightly off-balance when they are shooting. They frustrate the heck out of their opponents.
Most of the older basketball fans are rooting for San Antonio, not just because their stars are older, but because they represent the way things used to be. They are hoping for a champion who does things the correct way.