In last year's movie "Rocky Balboa," the fictional fight between the octogenarian Rocky and the lean, young Mason Dixon was billed as "Skill vs. Will." In that spirit, I shall give these finals it's own nickname - "The Roar vs. the Bore."

The Roar: Let's face it - LeBron James just looks like a more refined physical specimen out there. He's the best athlete in the league right now. Highlights of his Game 5 performance against the Pistons show that even when the referees put away their whistles and allowed LeBron to be fouled multiple times on individual plays, it didn't matter. LeBron was stronger and faster and more determined. And even when there were two or three defenders hovering around him at any given time, it didn't matter. LeBron was stroking jumpers and threes with Larry-MJ-lovechild accuracy. And he's making it look easy. Some may argue that the Pistons' defense played weak, but the Pistons' D wasn't weak; LeBron made it look weak with superior skill. Watch his defenders - they are good athletes trying damn hard to keep up with him, and he's blowing past them. LeBron is simply on a different level right now.

The Bore: Tim Duncan is everything that is right AND wrong about pro basketball.

What is right: Duncan is the most fundamentally sound player in the league and (Bill Walton superlatives aside) may the best ever at just quietly and methodically killing his opponents. His greatness is in his consistent excellence and his ability to get his shot. Rarely will you see him off-balance or fading away. He finds his spot, takes his time, and hits that 8-footer off the glass often regardless of the defense playing him. He is frightening - not a Hannibal-Lecter-eat-your-face way, but in a bubonic-plague-that-will-slowly-but-inevitably-kill-you way.

What is wrong: The way I feel - and the way every fan outside San Antonio - feels about Tim Duncan. This guy is going for his fourth NBA title. Even as the parts around him have changed, he has been there, winning and winning and winning. Watching him play should give me chills. But I don't get chills. And yet, I would be the first person to get on my high horse and say, "We need to stop worshipping these high-flying, selfish, hyperathletic players and worship those who play the game soundly - like Tim Duncan." Still, TD doesn't excite me. He should, but he doesn't.

The Prediction: The Spurs' team game should prevail - and easily. The Spurs should win another championship. But if somehow the Cavs win this series, make no mistake, LeBron will have given us the greatest NBA post-season performance ever. Forget about Larry and Magic and Michael. For various championships, Larry had McHale and Parish, Magic had Kareem and Worthy, And Michael had Pippen, Grant, Rodman, etc. If the Cavs win, LeBron will win it. He will score. He will distribute. It's all on his shoulders. Sure, he needs his role players, and he needs the other guys to "do what they do," but this is his team. He is The Man.

The Preference: Seeing as the Spurs have become the Bad Boys lately (the infamous Bowen foot defense, the ubiquitous Tim Duncan "I'm Tim Duncan, call a foul!" facial expression), I'd love to see the Cavs take this thing. Anyone else sick of the Spurs? Show of hands....thought so.

My selection of individual over team goes against all of my most firmly held beliefs. But hey, LeBron isn't Kobe - he plays the team game more consistently, and says all the right things (Hell, he has the basketball intellect and overall maturity of a 40-year-old), so I can feel like less of a tool by cheering him on.

But even as I'm getting excited every time LeBron touches the ball, I'll be inwardly wondering how it came to be that Tim Duncan's greatness seems to have been swept under the table (aside from the "We really don't appreciate Tim Duncan like we should" statements that have become all the rage with commentators).

If you feel a cough coming on, LeBron, be careful...it could be the plague...

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12 Comments:
Blogger mmmm beefy said...
I just get a kick out of how the spurs are the bad guys because they don't play entertaining basketball. Damn it people just appreciate good solid basketball.

Blogger Evil Ted said...
And I just get a kick out of people who don't pay attention. Who ever said the Spurs are the Bad Boys because they don't play entertaining basketball? The gist was that Duncan goes underappreciated because his game has no flash - big, shocking news there.

I happen to think that over the years the Spurs have played very entertaining ball. They're Bad Boys because they played like a bunch of whiny, maladjusted thugs this year. Bowen's shady foot defense? Horry's forearm shiver to Nash?

Please pay attention, class. There will be a quiz later.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
haha
i really dont like the spurs...(cant express my hatred here)
they are dirty and thugish. Oh i raised my hand there and oddly even with my fiendish basketball attraction, i actually dont really care who wins.well i like the spurs less so go cavs. any ways this site is a awesome site and i hope that manu ginobili breaks his something with his flopping . :P

Blogger mmmm beefy said...
Bowen has been doing the foot thing for years. He has had at least 3 players call him dirty and even try to fight him. But for some reason this year he goes from great defender to thug. And Horry has on hard found against the great white hope and suddenly everybody on the team plays dirty. No one seemed to complain or call anyone dirty when McDyess took out Varejao. Because the Spurs don't play "entertaining" basketball people search for a reason not to like them and thus the bad boy/thug description emerges

Blogger Evil Ted said...
The Bad Boy stuff has emerged from bad behavior, not from an understated brand of basketball. What is it now with all of these Spurs funs playing the "entertainment" card?

Bowen's antics aren't excusable just because they weren't getting noticed in years past...I forgot him kneeing Nash in the groin. Nice.

Look, Nash is the second coming of Basketball Jesus, so I'm going to get ornery when a team knees him in the groin and body slams him. I just will.

And let me repeat: the Spurs are entertaining, OK? They're just not "street ball" entertaining, and that's fine. If the alternative is a Kobe Bryant-led Laker team winning a championship, then I'm all for the Spurs quiet dominance.

Blogger Al James said...
Also, it's important to note that McDyess has about 10 years of good behavior to fall back on. If you look at the replay, you can see that he was trying to make a play on the ball, Varejo just took another opprotunity to act like he faced a near death expirience. Varejo is like a Ginobli or Laimbeer except without the actual talent, just the flopping, acting bit.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Not "street ball" entertaining? When is street ball entertaining to a self-respecting basketball fan that really knows his basketball?

Street ball may be fun to watch for casual basketball fans, but it's not something to be emulated because it's all about flash and no substance.

If Tim Duncan's play doesn't excite you, then you, Evil Ted, are a casual basketball fan and not the hardcore that you claim to be. All this talk about stats are just fluff.

Duncan consistently wins because of how he plays and because of his work ethic. Never mind his look when he gets called for a foul--it's a nitpick given by people with sour grapes.

Anonymous Evil Ted said...
Oh, I just love it when somebody who doesn't even give a name goes off on me.

LOVE it.

You are fooling yourself beyond words if you, Mr. Serious Basketball Fan, are going to tell me that you don't find street ball entertaining. And I use the term "street ball" not to describe the annoying bastards we've all played with who don't pass the ball and don't play anything but one-on-one with no fundamentals. Step away from the court full of self-important, testosterone-laced jerks for a minute.

LeBron plays a "street" style ball, but does it within the context of team and fundamentally sound play. When he plays one-on-one ball, he does it because he is forced to do so, due to of the meager talent surrounding him. He distributes when and where he can, and plays and speaks with maturity far beyond his years. He's playing a "street ball" of a different nature, a kind I can actually enjoy that doesn't make me wince.

And again, because nobody seems to read, I will be forced to repeat, I find the Spurs as a team entertaining. Parker and Ginobli, working in tandem with Duncan's quiet dominance is virtual artwork on the basketball court. BUT If I am picking my team, and I know that I am going to have one star with very little support around him, I pick LeBron to create. If, on the other hand, I know that my team will have dynamic players on the perimeter to dice up the defense, I pick Tim Duncan as the centerpiece to dissect the opponent with pinpoint accuracy.

If you're going to tell me you find Tim Duncan playing basketball EXCITING, you're fooling yourself again. So you seriously want to watch a guy, time and again, dribble with his back to the basket for three seconds, then turn and shoot the same 8-footer off the glass? Don't get me wrong, would I want him as a teammate? Abso-frickin-lutely. Would I get a chubby watching him play? No. And you wouldn't either.

And please – this goes for everyone – please read deeper into my posts. Read twice if you have to. I consider it the greatest tragedy that Duncan’s brand of ball isn’t more widely appreciated. It’s very easy to be sitting on the now overcrowded “I appreciate Tim Duncan” and “Tim Duncan is the greatest power forward of all time” bandwagons; he’s a three-time champion going on four. But people haven’t appreciated him the way they should, and when he’s left the league, his sheen will fade fast, because there aren’t those MJ / Larry / Magic / LeBron highlights to cling to.

You feel the need to say Duncan is exciting because it is what you feel you should say. Duncan is a winner. Duncan is a champion. Duncan is one of the all-time greats. But he is not exciting. Search your feelings, Luke. You know it to be true.

As for “all the talk about stats,” you’re probably referring to Basketbawful himself, who is the king of the stat.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Search my feelings, I have. I really find Tim Duncan exciting. I'm not just saying that to piss you off.

I find it exciting to see his bank shot hit its mark over and over again. I find it exciting if TD makes a spectacular block when somebody tries to take it strong inside. I find it exciting when TD makes those pinpoint passes whenever a cutter like Manu makes a move for the basket. I love it when Duncan makes a spin move that leaves his defender in the dust.

Now Evil Ted, don't give me beef if you find the word Anonymous beside my last (and current) post. I'm just a lazy bastard who doesn't want to make an extra effort to make a Blogger account just to identify myself. If you and Basketbawful were to say, devise a way for me to register without going to go through all that hassle, then I will. But since I'm a lazy lout, I won't. And please, don't go through all that trouble for me either.

Heck, even comments this long takes a toll on my attention span.

I won't disappoint you though, because I'll leave you a name and URL. My name's Mike, and here's a link to my blog:
http://mikegotgame.wordpress.com

As for Lebron playing "street" style ball, that's subject to debate. Lebron may perform the moves of a street ball player, but it's really not street ball per se. Like you said, Lebron works within the context of team- and fundamentally-sound play. Ergo, it's not street ball.

I've tried to like street ball in all my years of watching and playing the game, but it's a selfish brand of basketball that, like I previously said, is all flash and no substance. Some may call me a basketball purist, and maybe I am.

I still find street ball a total snoozefest.

I think the people who brand the Spurs as "boring" and would rather watch high-flyers like Kobe, Melo, or T-Mac are either jealous because they're rooting for another team or ignorant of the sport's real beauty.

Sorry if I irked you with my previous comments, but I've always regarded this blog as intelligent, and hearing from you that Duncan et al are boring (see your first label for this entry) is rather disappointing.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Mike again. I just wanted to add that your description of street ball hit the nail on the head.

"And I use the term "street ball" not to describe the annoying bastards we've all played with who don't pass the ball and don't play anything but one-on-one with no fundamentals. Step away from the court full of self-important, testosterone-laced jerks for a minute."

This IS street ball. Really. It's a game full of self-important, testosterone-laced jerks with no concept of team or fundamentals. If there's another description for street ball that we're not aware of, do share it with us. ;)

I think this is what started the confusion between us in the first place. When you say "street ball," your tongue-in-cheek description is what comes to mind. Quite vivid.

Anonymous Evil Ted said...
Mike,

Nice website. "Everyone is entitled to my opinion" is a fantastic tagline, and in the spirit of plagiarism, I fully expect to steal it at some point when I am trying to appear witty in a pompous social circle.

Thanks for taking the time to post some well thought out comments. I suppose I should have known exactly what images the term "street ball" would illicit, regardless of how I meant it. It was a throwaway comment that was part of a much bigger argument.

Perhaps I have fallen victim to the phenomenon that many have, which is waning appreciation in the face of such prolonged excellence on the part of the Spurs.

If you'll excuse me, now that it's 3-0, I have to go reserve my Spurs Championship cap.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
You're welcome to the tagline. ;) That sounds like a great situation to use such an obnoxious statement.

Don't worry about the Spurs, Evil Ted. They're only terrific during odd-numbered years. Expect next year to be different.

Mike

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