In making my rounds and delivering newspapers this past Wednesday in Charlotte, Poteet and Leming, many fans commented that they are already missing the Spurs.
One lady from Charlotte, a huge Spurs and Charlotte High School fan – Juanita Tijerina – asked me yesterday morning what was I going to write about now that the NBA season is over.
I told her I didn’t know and that I missed the Spurs too.
In other words, the Spurs were good copy this year and it was easy to write about them. Now I’m going to scramble to find other topics.
Before I quit writing about the Spurs I would like to say how impressed I was with my good friend, Sohail Ladhani, who runs Rick’s Drive-In in Leming with his brother, and who was convinced from the beginning the Spurs would win it all.
Even after the Spurs struggled in their playoff opener against Dallas and were extended to seven games, Ladhani assured me that that the Spurs would win it all.
On the other hand, I was full of doubt. I remembered vividly the past disappointments, the heartbreaking loss to the Heat in the previous finals, and the words of Charles Barkley who kept saying that the Spurs were getting old, and that they had not beaten the elite teams during the season. All that made some sense to me. I just didn’t like the way they had played against the Mavericks.
And then the Spurs looked better against Portland and won the series in five games. Why didn’t they played like that against Dallas?
That question is hard to answer and all I know is that Boris Diaw and Tony Parker led the way and now came the Oklahoma Thunder and their onetwo punch of league MVP Kevin Durant and All-NBA Russell Westbrook.
I always thought that the Thunder had the best talent in the league and would be the Spurs’ biggest test. They were also younger. Not only did they have the top scorer in the league they also had one of the most talented point guards in the league. Add to that shot blocker Serge Ibaka and they had a complete team. Then I remembered what one family member from Austin told me when I asked him whom he liked to win it all. “I’m afraid it’s Kevin Durant’s year,” he said.
But then, we all began to see the Spurs style of play, their crisp passing attack, was having an effect on their opponents. It was sapping their energy. In the end, it was the Spurs bench, and fresh players off of it, that was the determining factor.
The Thunder had no answer for the Spurs’ second unit and lost the series in six games. Ladhani hit it right on the head when he predicted it would take six games.
We all know what happened with the Heat. It was more of the same as the Spurs’ superior ball movement, Kawhi Leonard’s relentless defense on Lebron James, and bench was too much for the Heat.
This final series also exposed many weaknesses in the Heat’s team. They relied too much on James. It also showed that the Heat had no shot blocker like the Thunder and were manhandled under the basket by Duncan and the rest of his teammates. The Spurs were the superior rebounders. The Heat had no such bench like the Spurs. And when the Spurs won this series in five games, it was exactly as Ladhani predicted. I was highly impressed with his confidence.
Now we all want the Spurs to stay intact and come back for next year. Some of the players like Diaw and Patty Mills may receive offers they can’t refuse and you can’t blame them. But I believe the Spurs will do everything to keep them all.
After all, what team has the best chance of winning it all next year.
Just ask Ladhani.
He’ll tell you.