The San Antonio Spurs aren’t just the current NBA champions, but they are the reason the potential dynasty of the Miami Heat has broken up, sending LeBron James to start something new (another Big Three) with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
We’ve written about this before: NBA teams are trying to copy the wrong tends. Everyone seems to want a big three or a cluster of Superstars. Actually, the Spurs might be the original Big Three, although it took some time for them to become the actual moniker. Tim Duncan entered the NBA as a proven College Basketball star, destined for greatness (but now one realized just how good and for how long). Manu Ginobili was a star in Europe, which promises nothing in the NBA. Tony Parker literally came from nowhere.
The Boston Celtics had themselves a Big Three, even though they came across as “built, not bought” because of what the city stands for when it comes to sports as opposed to Miami. The whole concept is quite foolish and gives certain fan bases the wrong reason to feel condescending, but that’s part of being a sports fan – using illogical reasons to feel superior over others.
Once the Miami Heat built theirs, everyone wanted one as well. The Brooklyn Net got themselves something which didn’t work out. The Lakers tried and it exploded in their face. The New York Knicks made an attempt that destroyed their salary cap for the second time in a decade, this time without Isaiah Thomas helping, and the Houston Rockets put themselves in a worse position this season just by chasing that unreachable star.
LeBron James left the Miami Heat because he lost in the NBA finals. That can’t be confirmed unless he says so, but that is something he’ll never admit to. Heading back to his first team, his “childhood” team or as close to that as you can get in a sport in which teams don’t grow their own players from a young age as opposed to everywhere else in the world, is much better from a PR point of view.
But the Spurs were the ones who stopped the Heat from getting that three-peat, avenging their dramatic, painful loss in the 2013 NBA Finals. This time it wasn’t even remotely close. The first two games were great, giving us a sense that it’s going to be a close series. The next three games were a series of knockdowns and haymakers until the proud defending NBA champions were out for the count. And so LeBron James made up his mind to break it up.
James won himself some fans by heading back to Cleveland, even though trying to pick up the shambles in Miami would be the more “honorable” thing to do. Consistency, familiarity, keeping a core together while messing with the pieces around the heart of the team. That’s part of what the San Antonio Spurs are about, aside from intelligent basketball, superior coaching and player development and maybe I’m forgetting something as well.
Maybe this created a monster in Cleveland. After all, three stars, with James maybe slightly past his prime, joined by two who are probably before their peak as basketball players. A coach from a different school of thought, depth. Sounds good, and scary, to the Eastern conference at least. When the Cavs look down on the rest of their conference in April, teams like the Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards and the retooled Miami Heat will have the San Antonio Spurs to thank for.