Saturday, 21 June 2014
Game 7?! What Game 7?! Unless it involves a boat down the canal for a victory parade that only these Texan titans can do then there is no Game 7. The 2014 NBA Finals are all over! Those who thought it'd barely last past four games, or a week are almost right as its the Miami Heat that where actually almost swept and dusted by the San Antonio Spurs. As one big three failed to three-peat one fab four makes five for a franchise that have been consistent for almost 20 years and are a classic, Hall Of Fame worthy team. Many critics will point the foam fingers at LeBron but he is still the best player in the National Basketball Association and his team a worthy Eastern conference, defending champion and opponent. Sometimes the other team is just too good in becoming great and here we do mean "team". When we say there's no 'L' in team its not meant at a slight at the great, doing it all LeBron, but just like 'I' (or Michael Jordan's " me" mock), there is no 'L' in team, here meaning loss. There is a 'W' though (if you turn the 'M' upside down) and these days you can spell team, S.A.N.A.N.T.O.N.I.O.S.P.U.R.S.
These wild West Spurs with true grit really have clicked again. To think it all begun again even when the admiral David Robinson left port. Now this veteran team have defied the old jokes to sage and age their way to their own fine wine. Even the vino of Kobe Bryant can see that 2014 is a good year. Not only have the Spurs bested MVP Kevin Durant and his favourite Oklahoma City Thunder team, they've also taken the crown off the Miami Heat as the king fails to take his throne once again. The notorious B.I.G. fundamental of Tim Duncan has taken his robot, assembly line, statistical output play to an android future in this digital app age that sees him as efficient as ever. The Hall Of Famer and greatest Power Forward of all time has made room on the Texas triangles Mount Rushmore for more legacy making legends however. Still as great as Dirk Nowitzki's Dallas Mavericks and Dwight Howard's Houston Rockets are in this lone star state they've got nothing on Timmy's twin wings. Tony Parker remains one of the most fundamentally greatest and criminally underrated Point Guards in the world and this Frenchmen is tearing through defences and dropping enough floating shots to give the opponents teardrops. Whereas former stellar sixth man Manu Ginoboli is the passionate flair that keeps this team smooth and spreads the floor wider than his bald spot. Still when LeBron has Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, two big threes need something more than a sixth man.
That's when a Finals MVP comes into play and ours for this series wasn't number 21 or his two international running mates. Our best man here was Kawhi Leonard who showed the world that in the matrimony of champions, a new superstar was born. Here this Sugar Ray Leonard was a knockout in eliminating Miami and defensively cooling off LeBron James, whilst ripping the crown off his right arm and showing he had the bulging biceps on D. Scoring on the other side too this man made more than a point in this finals, but also being the future face of this franchise. Still from Splitter to Green and the red express of Matt Bonner this unit is a team right down to the suit in ties in reserve that sit next to legendary coach Pop. Critics used to call this team boring but now the purists are captivated by real basketball. Ball movements, screens, box outs, screens, picks and more rolls than a breadline, this bread and butter play of a great team spreads over decades and is a slice and diced cut above the rest. This is a basketball education that the young ballers should be schooled on. This is how the game should be played. Repetition over reputation, its the work that you let do the talking. This team or the Bruce Bowen, Robert Horry or Sean Elliott and Mario Elie ones before it are worthy of their place in Naismiths Hall Of Fame. Wooden would be proud. These are the X's and O's of real longevity and success that engrave the dry erase in permanent marker. Some say this league is all about the man and the would be king, but this is a team sport after all. Next to the Alamo this team has built a castle and it'll take years to storm these walls. Dynasties don't begin in a day, but real ones last decades. The history books have a new definition, you can find it after page 21. Or up in the rafters for a banner moment next to where that jersey will one day reside...but not yet. These old guys have still got some years left in them. Its still their age. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Wednesday, 11 June 2014
0.4. Forget a New York minute for a second. In what seemed like a fraction of time, the former number 2 point guard of the Los Angeles Lakers went from a coaching consideration in Hollywood to being snapped up by L.A.'s former Head Coach, Phil Jackson from the front offices of Madison Square Garden. That's right New York City, in the core of the Big Apple your new coach of the Knicks is playoff, big shot, clutch legend Derek Fisher. Now with rumours rife of former Laker role playing legends Rick Fox and Luke Walton suiting up in assistance. It seems like the Knicks are the new Los Angeles Clippers in taking Lakers alumni and making them their own. Especially with Queensbridge New Yorkers Lamar Odom and Metta World Peace in the N.Y.C. mix. Now with all these loss Lakers and the former showtime of STAPLES, looking to replace Mike D'Antoni and find a new man to lead them back to the Hollywood hills of the promised land its time they go fish. In their long halls of alumni fame names like Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis and former coach Mike Dunleavey Snr could help the show go on but what about the man that has arguably won them more big playoff games in a matter of seconds then Robert Horry and Kobe Bryant combined?
Matter of fact the New York Knicks have only won 40 playoff games compared to Derek Fisher's 161. You want to talk about on the job experience? This guys got it in treasure troves. Now the franchise that has reached out to one of the role playing faces of their Walt Frazier, Willis Reed and Earl the Pearl championship days of the seventies are relying on the eleven rings championship certified pedigree of former Chicago Bulls and Lakers coach, Phil Jackson. Still as much as this team would love and prefer to have the new Pat Riley of the front office down on the sidelines, they have more championship proven experience in one of Jax's loyal and best players Fisher. Coming straight off an almost championship run with one of the West best Oklahoma City Thunder, Derek takes the job that was first offered from Phil to fill to former Bulls three point gunner Steve Kerr. Still with Kerr now taking the reigns off former New York City point guard Mark Jackson for the Golden State Warriors job opening out in Oakland, its up to another primetime big shot point to lead the way by example out in downtown Manhattan. With one of the best Point Guards of all time and a Maverick champion Jason Kidd straight out of the playing frying pan and into the coaching fire in Brooklyn, we now have a classic new chapter to add to the new Nets/Knicks rivalry and fight for N.Y. in the form of a veteran, point guard playing champs bout. The all-star versus the role player, two big time players of experience in an epic match, both wet behind the ears of the dry erase. The ties are off for two guys who could still suit up to play. So who will be able to keep theirs on as these two structures scrape the skies of success? Now as a coach, Fisher is a rookie again like we where back against that photo wall in 1996. Still, just like Kidd don't bet against this veteran making a great coach. Besides even Phil Jackson knows that role players make the best coaches.
From the way he played stepping it up in the crucial clutch keys of the game to the way he "coached" as a player in support from the sidelines (even the words of his farewell diary blog serve as knowledge and inspiration of the game spoken like a true coach when he wasn't even one) this man has been preparing for this new role since he was 9 years old. That's his word. Speaking of which a certain clutch crouched speech during the 2009 Laker finals against Dwight Howards Orlando Magic was as big as a play as one of his trips on the floor downtown. Thinking of Howard, the signalling of the second Laker death of a dynasty wasn't when Dwight left like fellow super big man Shaq did back to Florida in 2006...which Fisher knows all too well. It was actually when the core of Derek, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom departed that the championship caliber left with them. Again as sad as it is to say goodbye to Derek Fisher as a player its amazing to say hello to him as a coach. Now this former player president with the association behind him looks to have just as much pull and attraction then his greatest coach of all time boss. First former teammate and troubled Lamar Odom can be brought around with his former championship circle to ring the changes and hopefully bring him back to the floor spreading player he was, like no other. Then there's former teammates Kevin Durant and even Kobe Bryant who are among the LeBron James (way to reignite that old Heat/Knick rivalry) names the Knicks are chasing. If one of them replaced, let alone joined the cities Carmelo Anthony then things could get championship, dynasty crazy. The biggest city in the world could be the greatest basketball one. The former joke could have the last, Larry legend legacy laugh. Still before we get too ahead of ourselves it all starts with the bottom line of Fisher. One that looks set to cast out some championship bait himself. The man that used to take the charge is now in charge and this team is in some safe point guard hands. Not only can this guy lead, but he can win and now the city is his its time to add some more rings to that other hand. Here's to you Coach Fisher...you have the floor. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Tuesday, 10 June 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
True sportsmen are hard to find in today’s game of basketball. This is especially true when coverage is dominated by heavily rotated highlight reels. OK, there’s not much that beats alley-oops and baseline reverse slams but what about the fundamentals of the true warriors of the game? Those who don't make the top ten plays of the week but instead possess something deeper. Derek Fisher shows us how much he embodies all the aspects of being true to the definition of sportsmanship.
n : fairness in following the rules of the game.
You can't call yourself a basketball fan if the figure '0.4' doesn't register in your mental encyclopaedia of historic NBA Playoff moments. There's not a lot of things you can do in 0.4 seconds (you can barely even bounce a basketball) but that was all legendary Lakers guard Derek Fisher needed in the postseason of 2004. Just four-tenths of a second to break the playoff run and hearts of the San Antonio Spurs. Less than half a second to lift his written off Los Angeles team to the NBA finals. He did all this with a beautiful turnaround, fade-away J off an inbounds pass from Hall of Fame candidate Gary Payton. This was Derek's hall worthy moment though, as he went all 'big game' like James. Catch, turn, shoot, BANG! With that swish Derek went from respected role player to among other things, "The Fish that saved L.A.". Bet he's glad that name didn't stick. From now on just call him 'Mr. 0.4'. Just one heroic moment for a seldom known role player right? Wrong! This was the same guy who's been a playoff hero year after year. The same guy who in the early 2000's averaged double digits in points in three consecutive seasons whilst having to share the ball with two guys who had enough trouble sharing the limelight. The same guy taken with the 24th pick out of Little Rock, Arkansas. The same guy who's practice coupled with his workout regime kept him as fresh and strong as he was when he first entered the L with Kobe almost 20 unbelievable years back. The same guy who maintained a high level even after suffering two stress fractures to his foot. The same guy who in playoff runs was a killer in the clutch like the Lakers Horry. Keeping his teams hopes alive shot after shot, charge after charge, big play after big play. The same guy who has done what countless other star NBA players haven’t, filled an entire hand full of rings.
Spurs purists will also be heartbroken every time they remember Derek taking over quarters, wetting so many three pointers with marksman like precision. Shooting the lights out to an NBA record 15 three pointers in the 4 game 2001 Western Conference semi-finals sweep. Philadelphia 76er fans wish they could forget the Finals, Game 5, deep dagger three from D-Fish which sank along with their hearts and hopes of championship glory back in 2001. The normally reserved Derek, with an assassins look on his face put his finger on his lips signalling the home crowd to be silent after that shot. The city of brotherly love had nothing more to say. Respect paid. Fast forward a couple of 365's and Derek was still that reliable point guard but like November 4th change can happen and Derek Fisher was part of the death of a dynasty in L.A. Kobe remained but his reported on off relationship with Shaquille O’Neal ran its course when the diesel fuelled up and took a talented trip back down to Florida. This was the biggest news story, but all good Hollywood stories have sub-plots and Shaq wasn't the only one who said goodbye to Hollywood. The Zen departed for a few years, Karl Malone retired along with Rick Fox and Gary Payton was traded. In all this mess as per usual things were said and stories emerged. Shaq and others were quick to let their feelings about Kobe and the management be known. Even the mailman delivered some barbs Bryant’s way. Still, however amongst all these dramatic exits and gossip column worthy quotes, one guy who's loss would effect the Lakers just as much as many of the others remained quiet. Derek Fisher just went on his way. Fisher showed something the other players didn't…
Fisher went north to Golden State. The Oakland team put $22 million on the table so they could pride themselves on having a real Golden State Warrior. Although he struggled at first he improved when Baron Davis took the reigns of the Warriors. This freed Fish up to be the player he is, always having his star man’s back. This resulted in Derek's best offensive season averaging 13 points per game. He was still making those trademark spot up jumpers, he was still drawing fouls. Those huge plays that win ball games. Then it was off to Salt Lake City where like with any good Jazz piece-Fish knew his role well-and with perfect harmony bought his own unique style to an already established ensemble. Again Derek the consummate professional gave 100% to his duty in Utah every night. A man who does this deserves to be recognised and when Derek was elected president of the NBA Players Association in 2007 you know it was because of his embodiment of sportsmanship. A man who should be a shining example for the rest of the league. A man who opened up the league after the lockout. There’s not much that keeps this man from the court, but even true sportsmen know that as important their responsibility to their team is, some responsibilities are simply just more important. Like family. Derek Fishers 10 month old daughter Tatum suffered something nobody, let alone no child should have to endure. Retinoblastoma, a rare, degenerative cancer of the eye. Emergency surgery was required. Like any true father Derek was right by his daughters side every step of the way at the New York's Presbyterian Hospital. These are times when conference semi-finals don't matter and duty can be put aside.
So Derek was with his family. But then he did something nobody expected even a renowned true sportsmen like him to do. With the doctors blessing he flew back to Utah. The Jazz were almost three quarters deep in trouble against Fishers former team Golden State. They needed a hero. Derek answered the call. Fans will remember him walking into the arena surrounded by personnel. Instead of warming up, he suited up and was on court late in the 3rd. For all the all stars that were on the floor for Utah (Deron Williams, Andrei Kirlienko), Derek knew it was time to show this ball club how a seasoned playoff hero plays this type of game. He high-fived his Jazz bench, entered the game to a standing ovation and embraces from current and former team-mates, he held his hands up high and looked to the heavens and then it was down to business. To win games first you have to take care on the defensive end. Derek did just that with a critical stop against Baron Davis taking his team to overtime. Then up 120-117 the Jazz were finally in control but the W wasn't sealed yet. They needed a sharp-shooter to put these Warriors down for good. Utah's go to guy Deron Williams found Fisher open in the corner, catch, shoot, swish, W. That was deeper than just simple sportsmanship. This is the magic of players like Derek Fisher. This is the magic of the NBA. ‘Where Amazing Happens’, right? This moment arguably just as brilliant as his 0.4 second shot and definitely more heroic. Coming in for his team in their time of need, when it was his time of need displayed courage and something real special. Something that was although deeper than, still true to the definition of sportsmanship...
But even when your truly dedicated to your work, when times get real hard sometimes you just got to walk away. Derek Fisher told the Jazz he had to go to a city that had the medical means to take care of his daughter. He at that point had walked away from the game he loved to devote all his time to his daughters care. If this man’s career was called at this point on July 2nd 2007 nobody could have fronted on this man’s dedication, selflessness and level of sportsmanship. Still, however Derek’s basketball diaries are now in the process of having a storybook ending, just read 'Character Driven' for reference. A city that had the medical needs to look after Tatum and a team to take care of Derek’s career came calling. As if it was meant to be, the familiar city of angels beckoned the Fisher family back home. Kobe was putting Los Angeles back together but Batman needed Robin. So number 2 of the Lakers to the day it should be rightfully rafter retired belonged to Derek Fisher once again. The headband may have gone but the hard work and dedication still remained. As did the clutch 3 pointers. The Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, years, tears and two more rings can attest to that. Derek still got his and gave his team the energy and the heart they needed. Even after 2011's three-peat fail, Fish was still there shooting rainbow jumpers and taking charges, making big plays heading to the fourth quarter and his forties. That was all whilst trying to help prevent David Stern from putting a Coach Carter style lock and chain on the NBA's gym. Now that's dedication, from the labour courts to the hardwood ones. The Lakers may have been a mess when Fisher left after his first tenure, but they where even worse when their clutch, championship certified classic Guard, pointed further West to Dallas. Still as a Maverick, Fish couldn't make good with Cuban's for another championship cigar so like smoke he was gone.
Like a Supersonic from Seattle, Derek Fisher went to Oklahoma City to add some rain and reign to the Thunder bench. Closing out his career he was more than just a valuable veteran but a dynamo next to the dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Behind every MVP is a Derek Fisher and one of the greatest playoff finishers in NBA history still had bullets in his clutch chamber for the big shot. How these guys havent got a championship yet is LeBron James and Tim Duncan incredible. Still they'll probably get one next year and Fish could have probably joined them with the way he could still play. Still he's got an even bigger task ahead of him in New York City with Knicks Phil Jackson and Lamar Odom and perhaps even more Laker legends L.A. forgot. Derek is about to be a rookie again, beginning his head coach career in the mecca of basketball Madison Square Garden and judging from the way he played, supported from the sideline or even wrote in his farewell diary blog he will be more than alright. This ultimate teammate knows the game. Think players won't follow a young head? Then look at all the famous faces that where behind him in the lockout when he was player president. This man’s great legacy may yet include a few more championship rings to join the five his cabinet already contains. If this happens do not think this of it as mere coincidence. Besides the zen of Phil Jackson has faith in this great man from the Knickerbocker front office and the next chapter in their collective saga together from the triangle to the title. Theres as new sherrif at the core of this Big Apple town whose about to live by the cities officers moral motto and code of conduct. The city is his. Carmelo or LeBron, or even an old friend with a name like Durant or Bryant. Why? Because hes just that potential proved great. Greatest coach of all time, Phil Jackson certified. By making this leap of trust hire, the players former coach showed Derek Fisher the same thing he in his career has shown every city, team, coach and player he's ever played for or against and the league of the NBA as a whole…
Thursday, 5 June 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Jungleland. Somewhere between the mighty Miami and eternity, the lion sleeps tonight. 'Ah wimboweh', 'hakuna matata', 'nants ingonyama bagithi baba' and all that jazz. Here comes a lion father and although he's been sleeping on his throne for two years he's not about to give up his pride. Roaring into a rematch with the Spurs of the West, LeBron James is about to wake up to game on, game one of something where the outcome will change not only his life but the lives of his band of brothers and force of foes around and against him. As the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs meet in the Finals for the following year, somehow, someway the rest of the year doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how bad its got for the legend Kobe Bryant and the legacy of his storied Los Angeles Lakers. It doesn't matter how close but how far the Indiana Pacers got. It doesn't even matter how great the Most Valuable Player, Kevin Durant and his formidable Oklahoma City Thunder franchise is. They all got all so close but no Michael Jordan cigar. Now its between the greatest player in the league today and his talented team versus one of the greatest players of all time-who is the first active player since Mike to be in your all time starting five-and his seasoned but stellar squad.
Still this series is more than just LeBron James versus Tim Duncan. More than whoever is David to the other Goliath great. More than the baton and torch passed between these gold Olympians and World Champs both suiting up for the belt in this knockout bout. We have more than just Dwyane Wade's and Tony Parker's and Chris Bosh's and Manu Ginobili's for this battle of big threes that have enough Michael Beasley's and Boris Diaw's to go deep beyond just a regular sweep. Last year it all came down to seven games, a few seconds and a Ray Allen dagger to the drawn out Texan heart and this year means so much more. If the favorites Miami make good, James will finally recede those hairline critics for good and rewrite history in his name. Joining his greatest likes of Jordan and Kobe in being one of the only legends able to three-peat. If the king takes his throne once again then he'll not only sit on this but the poised potential to be one of the first to four-peat. That may be a couple of weeks and a year ago pending but how's that for greatness? The back-to-back, doubled up dominance of Duncan and his Spurs-who have been in contention since 1997 and champions since 1999-have never hit three in a row. Still if the longevity of this dynasty is able to add one more chip to the cabinet then not only will they devastatingly deny 'Bron and his boys three. They'll also show that whilst pushing 40, they can also push further down the classic career corridor of their Hall Of Fame team. Let alone the own enshrining of one of the greatest big-men this association has ever seen. Now can I get a witness? If LeBron is like Michael before him, then Duncan is a descendant of the mighty lord of the rings, Bill Russell himself. Still right now this feels like 'Bron's path. The finals is his place like home down his yellow brick road. Lions, tigers and bears oh my! This predator owns this forest. The lion, the clutch and the trophy cabinet.
LeBron is ready to scream "you shall not pass" to this older than Wizards team for this Harry Potter generation. James' quest sees him look to emulate Jordan in more ways than one. Like M.J.'s legendary Chicago Bulls team, L.J. wants to make his Miami Heat Voltron franchise as legendary as the storied Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics franchises. Like the San Antonio Spurs already are as much as those well known Philadelphia 76ers and News York Knicks. Its well within reach. Even the Tim Hardaway's and Alonzo Mourning's that have come before him can't match what he's brought to South Beach, bringing the Heat like when Will Smith welcomed former Cavs teammate Shaq to Miami before Cleveland. This is more than the career and franchise high of 61 points this year. Even the cavalier Wade and all he's won has been eclipsed in the heat of LeBron's time under the sun. The cooled off by injury Heat have used 20 different line ups this year but it all comes down to the Iron Man, one LeBron whose avenged and played through all this assembling. Only Pat Riley has done more for this team when it comes to the decision room. In this game of thrones the sword belongs to the king and if people don't like it heads will roll and explode. George R. R. Martin isn't there only one willing to kill off and write out everyone and anyone in the story of his career. You don't become the king without defending the walls of your castle by any means necessary. With everybody watching the throne even Kanye West and Jay-Z have to compete. There's no church in the wild. Time to go H.A.M., there's no meat for vegetarians and right now between Duncan's words of confidence and conflict there's more beef than a man versus food bar and grill.
Adam Richman may have slimmed down these days but its still 'Bron versus the world like Scott Pilgrim in this video game, digital day and age. Even this scroll across, throwaway, iPhone app generation can't deny this lion LeBron is a whole different animal all together. His beefed up Oscar Robertson, academy averages are still all steak and state in the stakes of the playoff push. This lion leaves everyone looking like lambs as he knows his game is a wrap like J. Cole. With the Carter administration by his side he rocks this nation. This young Simba doesn't have to wait to be the king. He just has to defend his throne and castle and the leader of the pack won't back down to any hunter. Any threat to his South Beach nation, foreign or domestic. Whether the Virgin Islands, Argentina or France. From Nebraska to Africa they all know this lion and king. Springsteen to the American dream, it belongs to James like the game. Even people in Lebanon know LeBron. Simply put the world is his...now who on earth is going to stop him? You don't dominate across the board from points to boards without stealing and blocking out the rest to be the best. The league standard to the tune of 27.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.4 per on 56.7 shooting for your complete game. Showing he's more than pure, but a purists favorite who gives as much as the criticism he unfairly receives from all the court cynics, this guys assists and rebounds show he's making more than just a scoring leader point. Look for that ante to be upped over the next four to most likely seven games and you may just see why this guy could earn himself another finals MVP, win, lose or drawn out series. How? Why?! He's about to show you for your water cooler blog tell tales. You can just chalk it up to the fact that this mans about to leave everyone for the dust he throws up before games. They used to throw rocks at the throne and burn sacrifice jerseys as billboards came tumbling down but now there's so much love the hate is falling. Even Dan Gilbert wants this Ohio native back home, but someone should tell him they don't schedule parades in Cleveland this time of the year. Even San Antonio in 2007 know this. Sure the Spurs have been clicking and clacking as the West best for what seems like decades now but these latest years belong to a new beast in the east. The National Basketball Association of America is LeBron James' kingdom now. Now hear him ROAR!
"I'm blessed, man...that's all I can say."-LeBron James.
Monday, 2 June 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
2019, years from now scientists of this sport will have a problem. A fundamental one! How do they come up with another player like this? Especially in the extinct age of dying big men. Where the central core position of this game ends with the good and bad sides of the likes of Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and now Roy Hibbert for better or worse. Sure the future is blazing with Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge, but to reboot and make another player like the robot Tim Duncan is impossible in even this day and digital age. The basketball prototype and Power Forward's paint-work and artistic impression of player perfection is still running on crude oil and pistons you couldn't even work in the bad boy 80's days of Detroit, two years shy of 40. Still on the top of his game. Still a statistical outstanding output of 20 and 10 on his best cycle. This guy must be running on a computer, because he's a video games dream. Technology can't match the T-Bot's run-time. Nothing on this assembly line can. They could try and build an exoskeleton in his 6 foot 11, 250 pound likeness but they couldn't duplicate the big body that has been banging around under the boards with the rest of the broads for 17 plus years in this National Basketball Association. They could put hydraulics in this carbon copys arm and work out the right strength and firing mechanism to have it duplicate that money in the statistical savings account bank shot, but they still couldn't bank on this machine that doesnt need water or rest being a better glass cleaner than Duncan. They could brand a 21 on his back, even give it some pesonality but leave a smile off its face, and they still couldn't come up with another Timmy. All the tinkering of nuts and bolts and rewiring would just result in another imitation. This man is more than just an influential impression. Tim Duncan is the blueprint of baskeball.
Number 21 looks up to box-score on the jumbotron again. Seconds wind down. 3.00, 2.00, 1.00, to nothing but red illuminating light and ticker tape. The score remains 112-107 and the San Antonio Spurs remain in this game as the Oklahoma City Thunder yet again fail to make the NBA Finals and the trophy demands of Larry O'Brien that everyone thought would finally be rightfully theres. For now it doesn't matter that Kevin Durant is the leagues Most Valuable Player and the best one in this league not called LeBron James. For now the energy of Russell Westbrook means nothing. Neither does how well Serge Ibaka has been playing. It doesn't even matter that the retiring Derek Fisher was one of the best playoff clutch shooters of all-time, who often killed teams like the San Antonio Spurs in less than half a second. Tim Duncan isn't even looking at any of them after the hugs and handshakes. Especially now 0.4 has passed. Now this shots in the bank the score doesnt even matter when there's a bigger one to settle. Number 21 looks above the jumbotron and all the space where ballons and tape would fall and holds off the celebrations. He looks to where his number 21 jersey will eventually hang next to his old friend number 50 and all those banners he brought with his mentor and tower tandem partner David Robinson. The admiral who has left port for quite some time but can still be found starboard, courtside in allegiance attendance. He looks at the empty space next to the four championship curtains of credit. There's room for one more. At this point it really would mean so much more. It's time. When every critic inked their end and aged demise like a tattoo, Duncan and his forever clicking Spurs showed they where permanently here to stay. With Pop, Manu, Tony, the real big three that lasts beyond that many seasons there is so much more on the roster. The real team from Matt Bonner to Boris Diaw, Kawhi Leonard to Tiago Splitter, Danny Green to Corey Joesph...and the one they call Tim.
Now one man and his own big-three stands in his way...again. As the king looks to take his throne once again, LeBron James and his Miami Heat of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, the big threes of Ray Allen, the smaller lookalike and playalike of Tim Duncan, Shane Battier and so much more look to three-peat like the Duncan Spurs-who have been in contention since 1999-have never been able to do despite all the back-to-backs. Still despite all those saying this is now LeBron's league and predicting that the scorching Heat will comb through the state of Texas with a sweep, Tim and his San Antonio stars want to make Miami another team unable to turn a big three into three O'Briens in a row like Phil Jackson's Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. It seems all you need for this is a Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or even a bigger Shaquille O'Neal but LeBron and Duncan are here right now to prove when it comes to league legacy right now it's their legend. The kid, the man, versus the veteran, the godfather...not the old man but the giant. David and Goliath all over again. The rematch is set, but it's not what it seems. Some may think it'll all be over in a week, but they may just want to count to seven. Sure 'Bron and his boys have never looked hotter...and Timmy and his old bucks have never been older...but they've never looked as fresher either. Even with all the flash of Wade, James and all Heat's blade runners, you can't deny the android that is Duncan and all the playbook productions that play out like clockwork. Like counting sheep over and over the hill again. Don't fall asleep, you may even lose some when it comes to this dream team. Some may not spell fundamentals with 'fun', but this team really is for the poetic purists of this game, league and essence of true teamwork. Call them boring and they'll show you their boardwork. Sleep on them now and they'll wake up the history books for your bed time reading. Besides isn't it getting a little boring that the Heat are always winning? Put that to rest. How about something new, old, or at least borrowed? Just don't call it a comeback.
They really have been here for years. Like Duncan who came into this league in 1997 ready. Ready as more than just a Rookie Of The Year, but one of the best players in the league then and until now...period. He's a 4 time champ. 3 time MVP in the Finals. To go with two more in the regular season. That not enough for you? He's a 14 time All-Star and has an MVP for one of those too. He's been named to 10 NBA All-First teams and when that hasn't happened he's been a part of three second ones and one third. Now sprinkle 8 more first team defensive ones, with 6 second ones, no third but an all rookie team credit in his R.O.Y. debut year. The recepie for the only player ever to be named to both all-NBA and all-defensive first teams in all of his first 13 seasons in the L. Unlucky for some. Add some All-Star fun of a Shooting Stars Champion award to his fundamentals to go along with a USA Basketball Male Athlete Of The Year Award and you have a guy that even goes back to the Consensus National Player Of The Year in 1997. To go along with 2 consensus All-American first team honours and 3 NABC Defensive Player of the Year awards, 2 ACC Player of the Year awards and his number 21 already retired at Wake Forest college. Now what does that all add up to, apart from a red carpet down the classic trophy cabinet corridors to the Hall of Fame? A whole lot of breath and talk ran out of if you ask this writer and take his career averages of 19.9 points and 11.1 rebounds per and you have the San Antonio Spurs all-time leading scorer too. Sure here's to you Mr. Robinson, who may have been the admiral and the iceman George Gervin, but it seems that Tim Duncan is simply the man. Although people say he played like a machine, he's still running to this day on all mettle and no metal. Pick who you want for your NBA Mount Rushmore and all-time starting five. Of course Jordan will be in there with Magic on point next to him in the backcourt and at the three you can't leave out the threes of double 3 Larry Bird. As for your centre you could pick the most dominant of Shaq, the defence of Bill Russell and even the hook of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but I could give you 100 reasons to pick Wilt Chamberlain. Still, with all that said and done when it comes to your Power Forward nothing compares and nobody comes close to Tim Duncan. He's not the easy, today choice and even in this decade gone age of the four position taking pressure and presence off the five it's still all 21. Not even the deliveries of the mailman Karl Malone (they'll just get returned to sender) could be posted higher. Nothing but Tim. So tell me if one of the greatest players in all time history of this sport is still playing and strong how could you possibly bet against him when it comes to what could be his finals chapter? Even in the face of the king this man is not going to miss his royal appointment with gold. Anything else just does not compute.
"We'll do it this time..."-Tim Duncan
Sunday, 1 June 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
What does early June mean to you? That last exam? The end of school or college maybe? A couple of weeks from that holiday you've been working towards all year? It could be anything but what does early June mean to an NBA player?
It means the final destination of the year for two NBA teams out of sixteen who endured the tough, long season and a play hard or go home playoff campaign. It means that one of these two teams will write their names in the NBA history books where the other team will merely remain an afterthought. It's about the NBA Finals and it will end with the champion team reaping all the glory and the success that every team worked hard for but that only one team can obtain.
It means more than the commercials, no matter how hot they are. It's truly amazing. It means more than the sneakers, no matter how nice those hyperdunks may be. It means more than all the big trades and news stories that dominate the 82 game long season instead of just being a sidebar. It means more than the state of the art, awe inspiring arenas, coupled with the money made off merchandise and the concessions, although there's not much that beats a Friday night big game with a brew and your closest. It means more than the emphatic player introductions, fireworks and in game entertainment, although that does get you fired up. It means more then the cheerleaders, although they do look real nice. It means more than the celebrities in the Jack Nicholson seats, dominating the first rows, although there's not much cooler than seeing Larry David sitting next to Spike Lee.
It means more than the expensive suits, and grown up, dress code envelope pushing fashions of the players arriving to the game. It even means more than the multi-million dollar endorsement deals and recession defying bidding wars for advertising space between timeouts. It even means more than any single player gracing the court that night. With all respect to the elite superstars of the league. It means more than almost every home fan wearing the same players jersey, this is all about every player on the floor and on the bench giving their all-as one-for a common goal. This is because what all it comes down too is the game itself, which for the majority of players, coaches and personnel will be the biggest game of their lives.
It's deeper then the midseason grind of a 10 game road trip. Its more vivid then the dream of a kid emulating a Jordan buzzer beater on the streets, his friend by his side assuming the role of the commentator, line for line like it was an infamous quote from a movie. For the two teams that make it you may have come close and tasted it before, but now you have first class reservations. It doesn't matter how long you've dreamed and waited for this moment you better be ready, because its here now.
No matter what happened this season, no matter how many games previously you won or lost it doesn't matter. No matter which journalist wrote you off or which pundit championed you it doesn’t matter as its all about now. It's all about the next four to seven games. It's about every second from the tip to the buzzer. It's about every loose ball, every hustle, steal, charge, foul, free throw and every point whether made on the scoreboard or on the tone of the series. It's about the game as strategic as chess and as unpredictable and free as Jazz (word to Utah). It's about your heart, your enthusiasm your drive. It's all about how much you really want to win, because if your desires not as strong as your opponents then you simply wont win.
It's all about your chance to go down in history, it's all about those 'amazing' moments. It's all about Magic's junior sky-hook or his playing centre and leading his team to the 'chip in the absence of Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Its all about “Who caught it?”, “Havlicek”! It's about warriors of the game like Willis Reed carrying his team on one leg. It's all about playing hard and prevailing over Bill Laimbeer and the rest of the Detroit Pistons who fight so tough. It's all about balloons falling on your floor with no one there to celebrate because you tempted fate to much in the face of Celtic pride.
It's about defying expectations, breaking rules, going against the grain. It's about not caring that no team has come back from a deficit of so many games, because your not going home tonight. It's about being wrote off completely and ignoring all put downs. It's when a strong team and unit defeats and almost sweeps a team with four Hall of Famer's on it. It's about every game counting. It's all about David beating Goliath at least once, draining it from deep whilst stepping over Tyronn Lue. It's about after a decade of never touching glory crying tears of joy one year to not one year later sitting in a suit and watching your team being eliminated. It's all about worst to first, best to least.
It's about Larry O'Brien, its about those fingers on your hands waiting for those rings. It's all about the same dream you had as a kid. It's all about working on your dream all day long and then bouncing your worn out Spalding against a poster of Larry Bird when it got too dark and cold to play outside. It's that dream that you would of spent all day as a kid chasing if it wasn't for knowing if you didn't respond to the next time your mum called you inside there would be hell to pay. It's about what means the world to you, what gets you out the bed, to the gym, to the court or just even what gets you to subscribe to the NBA League pass. Then again this is just basketball right? After all this is just the NBA Finals, just what you've been waiting all year to watch and just what the two teams have been waiting their whole lives for to play.