Because we feel that no one understands the NBA more like the way we wish we understood the NBA than the gang at Free Darko, we've asked them to write up previews of every playoff series throughout the postseason. You've seen all these by now: It will help us understand what's at stake in each series, what matters, what it means for the individuals involved, their fanbases and their history. And there will also be funny, bizarre, non-linear photographs.
But this is the NBA Finals, and those require more than just one piddly preview. Therefore, today, Free Darko looks at each team in the series, cosmically, where they stand, where they've been, where they're going. So, after the jump, our Free Darko NBA Finals preview, part one: The San Antonio Spurs. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Robert Horry. These are three people who play for the Spurs. Free Darko will probably tell you some more.
And now, Dr. Lawyer IndianChief , from Free Darko, after the jump, on the Spurs. Enjoy.
Showing disdain for the Spurs during these playoffs has taken on a rote quality that has made me feel vindicated for having continuously expressing distaste for Alamo City hoops over the years and alternately caused me to search for ways to appreciate their enduring success. The problem I have with all of the Spurs Hate during this particular playoffs, however, is that this hate is not directed toward what the Spurs dreadfully are, but rather toward what they are not, namely their opposition — the offensive jubilation of A.I. and Melo enacting George Karl's playbook, the condomless sweet-tooth of amusement that is the Phoenix Suns and the forgotten men of the Utah Jazz, standing behind their deserving leader, Jerry Sloan. Because our sympathies have generally lain with these fallen opponents, the Spurs have become too easy a target to criticize. I cannot feel objective in my dislike for them.
And now the Spurs again face a team that again has captured the hearts of all Americans not strolling along the Riverwalk. LeBron James is the uniting figure behind our great nation, the man who has apparently saved the league from a bleak future of Oden and Durant licking acid tabs off each other at some Willamette Yonder Mountain Spring Band concert while Amare Stoudemire and Leandrinho Barbosa rep the Men's Wearhouse on the bench, patiently observing some teammate getting his eye gouged out. The Spurs, by the mere fortuitous alignment of playoff brackets are now pitted against LeBron, and so we must hate them again. Yet I am here to divulge, once and for all, why the hate must go deeper, to their very core.
The word "dynasty" is being tossed around these days with regard to the Spurs, to an alarming degree. First, you can't be a dynasty if you don't repeat. Second, it is common knowledge that each of the Spurs' championships to this point has been tainted. Must I remind you? 1999 was the lockout season, in 2003 Kobe was injured for the majority of the playoffs and especially in the Western Conference
semifinals, and in 2005 not only did Shaq forcibly remove himself from the Western Conference, but also the refs kept 'Sheed in steady early foul trouble during the finals. This year was the year of Nash's nose and Horry's hipcheck. Do you smell what I'm scrambling? Not a dynasty.
And yet they sludge on. Defeating Cleveland should be a small task, as the matchups favor the Spurs in every which way up and down the court. Conceptually, Manu Ginobili matches up with Anderson Varejao, as both players will actually be playing horizontally throughout the entire series. I give the edge to Ginobili for being able to feign the exact fall that one would experience if getting shot by a car full of Latin Kings, whereas Anderson Varejao can only mimic the fall that a college tour guide experiences tripping backwards over a sundial. Comparing Tim Duncan to Drew Gooden is a waste of time and facial hair jokes. Comparing Tony Parker to Eric Snow is like comparing the hare to the tortoise except that the hare also possesses the wits. In the Steve Kerr hall of fame of meaningless playoff 3-point-shooting role-players, Michael Finley and Brent Barry are first balloters who simply dwarf Daniel Gibson and Damon Jones. And although I would normally give the edge to LeBron James in his matchup with Bruce Bowen, given Bowen's recent history, I would suggest that LeBron savor this brief period of time he has with an Achilles tendon fully intact.