The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.


                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







Spurs Seek Third Title in Four Years

By Jerry Keys

The only real question going into the 2005-2006 NBA season is who the San Antonio Spurs will have to beat to win their third NBA title in four years, and fourth in the last eight years.  This may appear to be a rather outlandish statement until you look at their bench/role players.  Three of them would be starting for three-quarters of the other NBA teams if they were on their roster.

Was it fate or random chance that brought the two-time MVP (2002 and 2003) Tim Duncan to the Spurs?  Throughout the 1990's "The Admiral" David Robinson was the heart and soul of San Antonio, almost taking them to the Finals in 1995.  Two years later, Robinson was beset by injuries, and the Spurs finished a dismal 20-62. 

Fate came into play when the Spurs won the draft lottery and used their #1 overall selection on a Wake Forest star, Duncan.  First round picks do not bring with it guarantees of prominence, not even overall top picks in the draft.  Random chance came in when the Spurs uncovered a gem in the making.

Duncan and Robinson brought the Spurs their first NBA championship in the strike-shortened (there's that word again) 1999 season.  After a mini-dynasty of

Jerry Keys

the Los Angeles Lakers (2000-2002), San Antonio claimed their second title in 2003.  It was a fitting end to The Admiral's long and distinguished career.

The Spurs vs. Lakers rivalry was so heated and intense that some pundits declared the two team's playoff showdowns as the "real NBA Finals".  In 2001 and 2002 the Lakers simply manhandled the Spurs.  2003 was different.  While L.A. was cruising along seeking their fourth straight NBA championship, the Spurs clearly dominated them.

The 2003 series helped make guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili household names.  The Spurs went on to defeat the New Jersey

Nets to claim their second title in five years.  The rivalry ended in 2004, with the Lakers edging out the Spurs and advancing to the Finals (although losing to the Detroit Pistons).  Whether an avid NBA fan or a casual watcher, everyone saw the rivalry concluding when the Lakers imploded (think daytime soap opera).

For nearly 25 years, the NBA seemed to run in streaks.  The early to late 80's saw the great Laker-Celtic rivalry (from 1980-88, either team won eight of the nine NBA championships).  The Lakers won it all in 1987-88, followed by the Pistons 1989-90, the Bulls 1991-93, the Rockets 1994-95, the Bulls 1996-98, the Spurs 1999 (strike year), the Lakers 2000-02.

This year the Spurs look to return NBA fans to streaks.  There are two teams

Tim Duncan 
"MJ's predecessor"

from the Eastern Conference (Spurs are in the West) that could pose a "legitimate" threat, Miami and Indiana.

Indiana is still in a fog after the Ron Artest fiasco (see January 2005 issue of The People News) and the retirement of Reggie Miller.  Their front five could hang with the Spurs' on the scoreboard (with a great deal of luck) but would be clearly outmaneuvered with the bench/role players. 

Miami is a very streaky team and would have a better chance of pulling an upset, depending…  depending upon which Shaq shows up for Miami.  The "Beast Shaq" can still swing the outcome of games

tremendously; the "Ho-Hum Shaq" becomes an every day player with no ambition.  Either way, the Spurs should answer the call.

I just cannot close without making mention of the Lakers.  Phil Jackson is back.  Kobe is still there.  Was it not just a year ago that these two were ripping each other apart in the press and in memoirs?  Now they are positive about a harmonious season?  Someone please insert Air Supply's "All out of Love".

The Lakers missed the playoffs last year for only the second time since Gerald Ford was in the Oval Office.  Kobe's supporting cast is nothing to write home about and being positioned in the Western Conference, leaves a very small margin for error.

About the best L.A. could hope for is a #8 seed in the playoffs (lowest seed possible) and possibly another meeting with the Spurs (predicted #1 seed).  A rivalry renewed?  Not a chance.  The Spurs would win four games to none.  A rivalry means you have two "competitive" teams.

On a final note, did Jackson return for his zeal of the game or to return to good standing with the owner's daughter?  Cue Entertainment Tonight and E! Hollywood.  Only in L.A!       

Tony Parker 
"Unsung Warrior"