Saturday, September 1, 2007
NBA Preview: An Ending Is A Beginning
In many ways the Spurs never looked more dominant than this past year. As much as I would like to think how the Suns could have beaten them if not for the suspensions, I doubt they would have. That Spurs team was just too good; they got back on defense so well and had such an impressively vast array of veteran knowledge. They were awesome, they were subtle, and basically everyone knew it.
With that said I think that might be the last championship we see the Spurs win in the Duncan era. I have no great explanation as to why this is, just a hunch. Maybe a stupid hunch. It is often mentioned that the Spurs have never been back to back champions, and I guess that has a part to do with my foreboding feelings, but that's kind of a bogus reason to write them off. And even though the Spurs are always thought of as being long in the tooth, Duncan, Ginobili and Parker are all of 31, 30 and 25 respectively. So, really, if anything, the Spurs should be in their prime. However, I cannot shake the sentiment that their reign is over. It is very strange.
The Spurs supporting players are indeed old. Bowen, Finley, Barry, Oberto and Horry are all well over thirty. This is a cause of concern, but maybe it shouldn't be because these guys are only supporting players, and not your big money dudes. It's like with the Patriots, where we criticize minor stuff because there's just nothing major to criticize. The Spurs are a lock to be really damn good for the next few years. I can't explain why I don't think it will mean another ring for them.
On the other hand, if I were to predict the 2008-09 champions, I would have to say the Rockets. Before Yao got hurt last year he really was looking like the MVP. I never thought he would be that good. He's huge and he's highly skilled. And that's all you need when you're 7-5. T-Mac is the perfect complement, he's matured greatly over the last couple of seasons. On many days I would take him over LeBron or Kobe. The key for both Yao and T-Mac is health, if they are healthy Houston is guaranteed beautiful things at this point.
The Rockets no longer have to worry about depth. Daryl Morey has stocked up on quality players. He's added Stevie Francis, Luis Scola, Mike James, Jackie Butler and Aaron Brooks. And they already have Battier and Bonzi, who now will be playing for one of his favorite coaches in Adelman. Plus they have Rafer Alston in case they need a good knife man. Things are looking rosy, and T-Mac should finally get to experience the magic of the second round of the NBA playoffs, if not beyond.
So the Spurs and Rockets are two very good teams going in opposite directions. We are seeing the gradual evolution from one superstar team to another. I just wish I could write these words with more conviction. To be simply guided by the cosmos can be unnerving.
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