LeBron LeGone: An appreciation of the San Antonio Spurs

by

Through shades of black and silver, color me unimpressed with the Summer of LeBron.

For all the hype, has anything drastically changed in the NBA?

Well, one thing has changed. Cleveland is crushed. It’s hard not to feel sympathy for Cavaliers fans, who live in a city that does not simply endure suffering. They define it, with a the for emphasis. There have been many fumbles throughout history, but only one The Fumble. Many game-winning drives, but only one The Drive. And now, there is The Decision. Or is it LeDecision?

Now that the smoke is beginning to clear, everything seems shockingly familiar. Age prohibiting, it would appear the NBA finals still run through Los Angeles and Boston. The Lakers are still the unquestioned favorite. Darko Milicic is still an overpaid NBA player whose team continues to add power forwards. And of course the San Antonio Spurs are still the Spurs.

If we take anything away from this Summer of LeBron, it’s how thankful we should be for that.

A decade ago San Antonio Spurs fans held their breath while Tim Duncan was openly wooed by another Florida team with the same promises of teaming him up with another elite player in his prime who then just so happened to also be hyped as the next Michael Jordan. The decision was excruciatingly closer than many Spurs fans care to believe, as an NBA.com reporter reminded us back in March:

“I came close to leaving,” Duncan said.

How close?

“Real close.”

Tim Duncan may not have been the homegrown star that LeBron James was for Cleveland, but his loss would have been just as devastating—probable team relocation devastating.

Given similar situations and the same high stakes, the two men revealed what should now separate them in the history books. Whereas LeBron James created a media circus that appeared to be about everything but basketball, Tim Duncan, with his priorities in line, made a decision instead of a spectacle.

This coming from a player, who despite the hype, was a better player then than what LeBron James is today. And in delivering the news as only he could, Duncan revealed more personality than all the one-hour ESPN specials ever could (again, from NBA.com):

It was the Moment of Truth, or the Turning Point of the Franchise, or whatever reach-for-the-antacid title you want to attach to it. Duncan got straight to the point, which felt like a dagger in Pop’s gut.

“Well coach, you know, there’s no beach in San Antonio,” Duncan began, trying to break the news gently.

You know when a woman gets a breakup call from George Clooney? This felt like one. Until Popovich realized he was being punked.

“There’s no beach in Orlando, either,” Popovich growled. “There’s a cultural desert there. What do you want to go there for?”

Duncan laughed and gave the coach the good news: He was re-signing with San Antonio. The other day, Popovich smiled at the memory of getting pump-faked by his center, and said: “He got me. He got me good.”

Off the court there is little we truly know about Tim Duncan or LeBron James, and thanks to Tim Duncan’s stoic face, there is little we know about him on the court as well. But there is something in the way he operates where little snippets like the one above ring honest. Not fabricated.

With a number of personal attacks towards LeBron James running across the internet, TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott offers his own personal theory for the hate:

Why is it that so many are in the mood to hate LeBron James?

A theory: It’s because he stepped out of place. Players play. That’s how it was. They are quiet and sweaty craftsmen who ought not to be heard from except to call out plays and say “yessir” to the coach. The way sports used to be, owners did things like make billion-dollar decisions and general managers and agents did things like agonize over personnel.

But that was always a myth. The owners, GMs and agents may have seemed like they held all the cards, but that’s only because players weren’t great at wielding the power they had. The players always drove the value, because they are what motivated the fans who paid for everything. It has taken decades, but eventually a player — this player — figured out how to really put himself in the driver’s seat, with billionaire owners lining up, one by one, attempting to earn his valuable affections.

There may be some truth in that, along with the fact that he created a one hour celebration that destroyed the dreams of Cleveland fans. But all the same, as a fan, I would rather not have to deal with such power plays.

It’s not about keeping players in their place for the sake of keeping them in their place either. Those that make such plays generally have their own agenda, and wining isn’t usually the driving force behind it.  That, and former players not named Jerry West historically make terrible general managers.

Despite what Abbott reported, one player has in fact recently made such a move. For a brief moment in time Kobe Bryant took the reins of the Los Angeles Lakers, and it got him Kwame Brown, Smush Parker, and the promise of many first round exits to come until Chris Wallace bailed him out with Pau Gasol.

Successful franchises often attribute their good fortune to good culture. Again, the Los Angeles Lakers are a prime example of that, moving from the culture of Kobe back to the one put in place by Phil Jackson. The Boston Celtics were made possible because Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett, and the Spurs of course have Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan to thank for theirs.

The underlying point is that franchises can only create the culture that their star player allows them to, and by all account the Cleveland Cavaliers were an organization that placed their culture at the feet of LeBron James.

Now, Gilbert is the tough guy with James leaving the Cavs behind? Listen, Ferry and Brown always warned Gilbert that giving James everything he wanted – giving it when and where and how – wouldn’t be the way they would keep him. LeBron didn’t respect them because they never demanded it.

Gilbert always believed he should do everything James wanted – hire his buddies into jobs, throw them on summer-league rosters, allow him to do those stupid pregame choreographed dances – that James would love him, that he would never leave. Only, James is a taker, and he took and took until he had bled Gilbert and that franchise to the bone.

The San Antonio Spurs time in the sun is setting fast, and soon Tim Duncan will retire. But San Antonio should take some comfort that as cursed as Cleveland is as a sports town, we have been immeasurably blessed. Twice now the Spurs have hit rock bottom at the absolute right time.

That’s two more times than most franchises can claim. And for Cleveland? Even when they find themselves in the right place at the right time they get the wrong person.

Because while LeBron James was the King that the Cleveland Cavaliers bowed down to, Tim Duncan has been the foundation upon which the San Antonio Spurs have pounded the rock.

  • TD#21SPURS4LIFE

    This is why timmy is the greatest player of post jordan era.Remember even kobe cried to leave LA until he got what he wanted.Timmy has 4 rings built around him kobe has 2 rings built on him and 3 as shaqs little buddy .i feel for clevland i hope the city get a ring before lebron or legone.But not he has become scottie pippen and well you compare him to kobe well the little buddy kobe cuz if he wins a tittle its going to be on wades team

  • Aaron

    I love the Spurs, and I’m grateful for Tim Duncan, but lets not be so quick to jump on the anti-Lebron bandwagon. The comparison between Lebron and Tim at this point in their careers is apples and oranges. The Spurs were only in position to draft Tim because of a fluke run of injuries. The Cavs had been at best a 2nd tier franchise before James arrived. Duncan had the benefit of playing with The Admiral through the early part of his career, then Tony and Manu later. The Cavs have never given Lebron a single teammate as good as any of those three. The fact is, Lebron did as much for that team as he possibly could. They’d had three 50 win seasons in the 20 years before Lebron got there. With Lebron, that had four. They’d neve had a 60 win season before Lebron. With him, they had two. And he took the to the Finals. So as ugly as the last few weeks have been, lets not forget what impact Lebron has had on that team and the league.

  • http://www.google.com dale A

    The Cavalier fans should boycott the Heat /Cavs games when the Heat come to town. It would have meant much more to take less money from the Cavs so that they could add more talent around you to win your first championship . Thats what Jordan did! James would have truly been a king if he had done that instead of the ego driven move that he made, taking the easy way out. Iam glad that he did’nt come to Chicago!!! We like our heroes Humble yet confident that they can get the job done. Never claiming they are the Greatest, just proving it .

  • bduran

    Jim,

    I do think their Big 3 our better our big 3 at their peak. Per minute, it’s probably pretty close, but Wade and Bosh average 36 min a game last year and Lebron averaged 39. We’ve been unable to do that. Mike Miller is a better 4th option than we’ve had.

    I started writing a long post on how I thought they can get what they need, but honestly, I’d rather just see what they do. They could screw this up and only be a good team but not true contenders or favorites. I don’t like what happened, but I will be watching them put their roster together with interest. After it’s together i think it’ll be a lot of fun to break down and see how good we think they’ll be.

    Of course after Splitter has a 23, 12, 3blk, 5 asst season we’ll be taking the trophy home and none of this will matter.

  • Eric

    What are we going to do when Timmy retires?

  • Bentley

    b duran

    There is absolutely no way Splitter puts up those kinds of numbers in his first season. But tht thought of that is nice though.

  • Daniel B.

    As usual, a good post. I only have one addition, which has been partially addressed by the comments above: Spurs culture cannot be adequately accounted for or described by starting with Pop and Timmy. They’re certainly our last decade, no question. But they both came into a situation that had been largely created by the hard-nosed, unflashy, workmanlike career and character of David Robinson. I still get shocked looking back on his numbers. And there’s little question that much of the Spurs’ ethos (and geography–they would have likely been leaving South Texas if it hadn’t been for his arrival) originated in his approach to both life and the game. We never would have a title without Timmy. But we never would have had the world-class organization for world-class guys like Timmy and Manu to flourish in if it hadn’t been for David.

    (Of course, Sean Elliott and Avery Johnson deserve mention, too.)

  • lvmainman

    Imagine if their starting 5 was Jason Williams, Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, Chris Bosh, and Shaquille O’Neal!!

    They’ve already got Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, Joel Anthony, Dexter Pittman, Jarvis Varnado, and D’Sean Butler on the bench.

    The Heat have to be the NBA favorites next year.

  • bduran

    Bentley,

    “There is absolutely no way Splitter puts up those kinds of numbers in his first season. But tht thought of that is nice though.”

    Man, and I thought I was being conservative.

  • Jim Henderson

    Hurm66
    July 10th, 2010 at 3:08 am

    “I really believe in the current state of the NBA, LBJ actually did the right thing. He gave Cleveland seven solid seasons, two MVP’s and a trip to the Finals.”

    Your values and perception are becoming jaded and you apparently aren’t even aware of it.

    “As they were constructed, they were never going to win a long series against the Celtics, Magic or Lakers.”

    NEVER?!? That’s ridiculous.

    “The Cavs erred in trying to “buy” a championship….”

    Do you even see your hypocrisy? What do you think the Heat are doing? The three megalomaniacs are playing for charity?!? Give me a break!

    “This whole deal doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the Gasol trade.”

    Both are not good, but they’re not even comparable. It’s a completely different scenario. Don’t try to make this fiasco look good because of the Laker’s thievery.

    “Lastly I don’t think we’ve given LBJ the credit he deserves for giving a seriously cool compliment to the Spurs core in that interview and name dropping Robinson, Duncan, Manu and TP. I got a real kick out of that. I honestly believe he respects the game and history more that MJ ever did.”

    He’s like a robot with PR slogans programmed in to what ever he has left for a brain. Do you even know substance when you see it?

    Aaron
    July 10th, 2010 at 7:23 am

    “So as ugly as the last few weeks have been, lets not forget what impact Lebron has had on that team and the league.”

    Total hogwash.

    bduran
    July 10th, 2010 at 8:02 am

    “I do think their Big 3 our better our big 3 at their peak.”

    I didn’t say they aren’t better, I SAID THAT THEY’RE NOT THAT MUCH BETTER.

    “…but Wade and Bosh average 36 min a game last year and Lebron averaged 39.”

    In my post I accounted for this. They are entitled to get one less rotation player than we had as a result. It’s very unlikely they’ll be able to do it with the money that they have.

  • bduran

    Jim,

    Oh I would never compare Bosh and TD. This last year TD was still better than Bosh and I think next year he will be as well. No, it’s more that Wade and Bosh are superior to Manu and TP. I know I’m not comparing the same positions, I just mean that our second and third weren’t as good as their second and third.

    “They are entitled to get one less rotation player than we had as a result.”

    The extra 14 minutes that they can be expected to generate over our 2005 team is equivalent to one freaking awesome rotation player. So I don’t think the above accounts for it fully. Plus they will be better in the minutes they’ve played. Plus their fourth option, Miller, is better than any of our role players. So this is a big gap. Yes this gap will close as the depth drops up faster than ours did, but I don’t think all the way.

  • cristian

    the spurs are the finest franchise ever. they are just a very solid and goodhearted, unselfish team. i mean, when do you ever see the spurs showing off and doing stupid little dances or anything flashy like that? they all play to play and not for recognition.

  • Bill Foster

    @bduran,

    The Spurs are, and for the past 15 years, have been more than the sum of their parts. The Heat are absolutely better on paper, but how many times have Duncan and the Gang pulled it out the fire versus supposedly better teams. Duncan has been The Man on 4 championship teams, a number not even Bird (3), Bryant (2), Shaq (3) or Kareem (2) can match. The Spurs have two years left of the Duncan window, it’s high time to prove why they are still the Gold Standard of NBA Basketball.

  • Jim Henderson

    bduran
    July 10th, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    “I know I’m not comparing the same positions, I just mean that our second and third weren’t as good as their second and third.”

    In terms of an all-around player, our first (in his prime) is comparable to their 1st & 2nd, and our 2nd (Manu) is comparable to Bosh. TP is just a small level below their 3rd.

    “Miller, is better than any of our role players. So this is a big gap.”

    Miller is a very good overall “offensive” player. He is not very good “defensively”. Thus, you are over-valuing Miller, and undervaluing our other two starters, because they were very strong defensively, but limited offensive players (Bowen – all-defensive, 1st team; Nesterovic, 7 ft. tall, solid paint defender – 1.7 bpg., in 25 mpg.). The Heat thus far do not come close to our 2005 team defensively, and defense wins championships. And then our role players are likely to be WAY better than the Heat’s, not just in production, but in terms of character, and all the intangibles. That is a “gap” the Heat are highly unlikely to close.

  • bduran

    “not just in production”

    Actually, the Spurs have employed some poor producers in their time. Neither Bowen or Nesterovic is a very good producer. The Spurs relied on phenomenal team defense and the very high production from the Big 3. This is of course a good strategy. The Spurs did not have many highly productive players on the roster that year.

    From a production point I think the Heat are set. Their top 4 players are highly productive and Chalmers has some potential (good rookie year but had a sophomore slump). They will be able to score efficiently and rebound well. What they need is guys who buy into the system and play Team D. We’ll see what they do.

    BTW, I think the Miami’s big 3 have more of an advantage then I originally thought. I forgot that TP had a bit of a subpar year that year. His second lowest TS% since he came into the league. He was still really young and hadn’t peaked yet. I was thinking more along the lines of our ’06 and ’07 big 3.

  • bduran

    I just looked at the Wins Produced last year for 5 guys the Heat currently have on the roster. Combined they produced 63.5 wins. This is actually understated a bit because Bosh is listed at Center in the Automated Wins calculation. If you call him a PF you get almost another 3.9 wins for a total of 67.4.

    The question is how much does 3 super stars joining the same team reduce production? Dave Berri addressed this in his book and says when a high producer joins another high producer you can expect a drop off, although only a small one. Is this effect magnified with 3 such players? In a recent blog entry he addressed this by talking about the ’96’-’97 Rockets with Olajuwon, Barkley, and Drexler. He said based on the previous year you would have expected 50 wins produced and they ended up producing about 40 for an 80% reduction from expected.

    If we say WP predicts 65 wins for the Heat, and 80% reduction brings them down to 52 and there is no way they can make up the difference with the rest of their roster. The would need 10+ wins from the other 8 players and their not likely to get it. However, Berri points out that in the Rockets situation the Big 3 were all at least 33. So how much was not enough to go around and how much was the natural reduction due to age? Certainly both had an effect. It’ll be interesting to see how 3 superstars still in their 20s adapt to playing together.

  • Jim Henderson

    bduran
    July 10th, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    “Actually, the Spurs have employed some poor producers in their time. Neither Bowen or Nesterovic is a very good producer.”

    Did I say anything about “producing” in the box score? No, I didn’t, because it’s an over-rated way to properly assess many important types of “role” players. Both Bowen & Nesterovic are better defenders than the Heat are likely get outside of their “star” players (and with Bowen, he is actually a better defender than Miami’s best defenders so far, James & Wade). DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS!!

    “Chalmers has some potential (good rookie year but had a sophomore slump). Chalmers has some potential (good rookie year but had a sophomore slump).”

    He’s VERY inconsistent, and probably not even a bonafide starter for even a “good” NBA team at the point, let alone a championship one.

    “What they need is guys who buy into the system and play Team D. We’ll see what they do.”

    They’ll need more than that from their 5-9 players, but even accomplishing “that” will be a tall task.

    “BTW, I think the Miami’s big 3 have more of an advantage then I originally thought. I forgot that TP had a bit of a subpar year that year. His second lowest TS% since he came into the league. He was still really young and hadn’t peaked yet. I was thinking more along the lines of our ’06 and ’07 big 3.”

    We can use 2007, or 2003, when we had Steven Jackson, and David Robinson, it doesn’t matter to me. I’d be very comfortable taking 2003’s Duncan, Robinson, Parker, Jackson, & Ginobli against the Heat’s top five, and again, our role players during our title years are bound to be much better as OVERALL players than whatever the Heat end up hyping into South Beach. We simply had better OVERALL players (1-10) than the Heat are likely to assemble, particularly on the DEFENSIVE end (which ultimately wins championships) in any of these years. By the way, Bosh is nowhere near enough on their front line. He would absolutely get KILLED by any of our championship front lines.

  • Jim Henderson

    bduran
    July 10th, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    “So how much was not enough to go around and how much was the natural reduction due to age?”

    I would wager most of it was from “not enough to go around”.

    Hakeem, Charles, & Clyde were still VERY effective players at age 34, probably similar to TD, but TD has been slowed a bit due to a chronic knee problem.

    1996-1997:

    Hakeem – 23 ppg, 9.2 rpg., 2.2 bpg., 1.5 spg.

    Charles – 19.2 ppg., 13.2 rpg., 4.7 apg., 1.3 spg.

    Clyde – 18 ppg., 6 rpg., 5.7 apg., 1.9 spg.

    But again, Hakeem & Clyde were AWESOME defenders. James & Wade are good defenders, but they are not AWESOME.

  • Jim Henderson

    “James & Wade are good defenders, but they are not AWESOME.”

    I’m probably under-rating Wade & James defense with that comment above. They are excellent defenders, but I would take Hakeem & Clyde in their prime over them from a defensive standpoint.

  • bduran

    “Did I say anything about “producing” in the box score?”

    I consider production as things that are more easily quantifiable. Individual defense has proven very hard to quantify, so I tend to refer to it separately when talking about a player. I guess you’re saying Bowen and Nesterovic produce good D. Fine, they don’t produce much else.

    “DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS!!”

    The Lakers the last two years were 5th in Def. Eff. in the regular season and 7th overall in the playoffs, middle of the pack. In 2006 Miami was 17th in Def. Eff and Dallas 12th in the regular season. They were both much better offensively than defensively. The Spurs have always won with dominant D but not everyone else has. Efficiency differential is the best predictor for future success. Now, given two teams with similar efficiency differentials, I’ll pick the one with better D to win a series so I obviously feel that D is somewhat more important than O, but saying things like “DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS” seems kind of dumb.

    “I’d be very comfortable taking 2003′s Duncan, Robinson, Parker, Jackson, & Ginobli against the Heat’s top five”

    Robinson was at the end of his career, Ginobili and Parker at the beginning of theirs, and Stephen Jackson has never been good. This wouldn’t be close. I don’t really think you thought this through.

    “I would wager most of it was from “not enough to go around”.

    Hakeem, Charles, & Clyde were still VERY effective players at age 34″

    Absolutely. 3 players producing 40 wins is great at any age. However, all 3 players were better when they were younger (of course) and this does nothing to answer the question, was the drop off from the previous year because there wasn’t enough to go around or because of age? This year will be a very interesting case study.

  • ChillFAN

    Great read.

    LeBron will never be as appreciated in Miami as much as he was in Cleveland. One Cavs fan said it best, “If he were to win 10 championships in Miami, it would never be as special as him winning one here.”

  • Jonku

    bduran and Jim Henderson

    To start of, comparing lineups of the past to lineups of the present is very mundane and not practical. Many factors play a role:

    For one this Heat team is still untested and as a matter of fact not even a full roster yet. Wade, Bosh, and Lebron take so much cap space I don’t expect great role players but again its possible.

    Secondly, if any of those 3 guys are injured which in this league is very possible. They also cannot be replaced and production is most likely to go down. Injuries are also most likely considering these guys will have to play 36+ minutes in a game with the lack of bench they will have.

    Finally, I will agree with Jim Henderson and say Defense does win championships. You are comparing overall defense over the entire season and playoffs. Champions are the ones able to get stops at crucial parts of the game. Miami’s 2006 championship was possible by getting stops at the final quarter making it possible to close them out.

  • Jim Henderson

    bduran
    July 10th, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    First of all, I assume you are talking about Hollinger’s stats on Def. Eff. Below is how he defines it:

    DEF EFF: Defensive Efficiency – the number of points a team allows per 100 possessions.

    For these stats of his, I only find them available back until 2002-2003. I wanted to go back a little further, back to the Spurs first title year, so I’m supplementing Hollinger’s data with the data provided at basketball-reference.com. They use the term DRtg. The following is how they define it:

    DRtg:

    Defensive Rating (available since the 1977-78 season in the NBA); for players and teams it is points allowed per 100 posessions. This rating was developed by Dean Oliver, author of Basketball on Paper. I will point you to Dean’s book for complete details.

    It appears that these two separate sources of data are tracking virtually the same data, and just using a different term or label.

    Second, I don’t believe looking at defensive ratings in the “playoffs” is very meaningful. It’s not a big enough sample, with a much too circumscribed number of match-ups, which can skew the data. For example, if a given team plays 17 playoff games during any year in the last decade, and 7 of them are against the Phoenix Suns, that’s not going to provide a fair representation of your defense using Def Eff. or DRtg. Also, the “title winner” is really all that’s important here. I really don’t care who comes in second place. It’s irrelevant.

    Thus, I will report regular season Def. Eff./DRtg. seasonal rankings for all “title winners” between 1998-1999 and 2009-2010. In addition, I like to cross check this data by using “opposing team FG%”. I believe this measure also gives a solid indication of how well a team defends.

    …………..Title Winner …D. Eff…DRtg…Op.FG%

    1998-99 – ….Spurs ………………….1st ………1st

    1999-00 – …..LA ……………………..1st ……..1st

    2000-01 – …..LA …………………….21st …..11th

    2001-02 – …..LA ……………………..7th …….1st

    2002-03 – …Spurs ………2nd ……3rd ……2nd

    2003-04 – …Pistons …….2nd ……2nd …..3rd

    2004-05 – …Spurs ……….1st ……..1st ……3rd

    2005-06 – …Heat ………..17th ……9th ……7th

    2006-07 – …Spurs ……….1st ……..1st …….3rd

    2007-08 – …Celtics ………1st ……..1st …….1st

    2008-09 – ….LA ………….5th …….6th …….5th

    2009-10 – …..LA ………….5th …….4th ……5th

    As you can see, out of the last 12 title winners, there was just ONE season where the winner finished below the top third in the league in all three defensive categories, which was the Laker’s in 2000-2001. And there were just TWO seasons out of the last 12 in which the title winner had a Def. Eff. ranking worse than 5th in the entire 30-team league (2000-01 & 2005-06). The 12 title winners were comprised of 6 different franchises. Only the Heat team, and one of the five Laker teams (2000-01) deviated from the norm from a defensive standpoint.

    “I obviously feel that D is somewhat more important than O, but saying things like “DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS” seems kind of dumb.”

    The data presented makes it obvious that DEFENSE is not just “somewhat” more important than offense in terms of winning championships. DEFENSE has a “much bigger effect” than offense does in terms of a team’s likelihood for winning a championship. “DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS” might be a cliche, but there is a clear element of truth to it, and it certainly is not DUMB. On the contrary, it may in fact be “dumb” to suggest that defense is just “somewhat more important” than offense for winning championships. And since we’re all more concerned with how much defense matters to the Spurs in winning a championship, the data above clearly suggests that it is of great importance for the Spurs to dominate defensively if we plan to win a title. We’re currently 9th in Def. Eff.. We need to crack the top five or it’s a MAJOR long shot that we get another title anytime soon. That will be the key thing I’ll be looking at during this coming season.

  • Jim Henderson

    bduran
    July 10th, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    “Robinson was at the end of his career, Ginobili and Parker at the beginning of theirs, and Stephen Jackson has never been good. This wouldn’t be close.

    The Heat have only THREE good players on their roster. In 2003, Duncan had the best year of his career. He would have destroyed the Heat. Also, I’ll take the great David Robinson that year, even at age 37, against any starting center that the Heat are able to come up with. Defensively alone, he would kick their ass. I will take Tony Parker, even in his second year, at age 20, over any point guard that the Heat are able to come up with. Jackson & Ginobli were 24 & 25 years old respectively, and were very competent players at the SG & SF spot at that time. All but TP were either very good or excellent defenders.

    No, I’ll stick with what I said. After the Heat fill their team, I’ll revisit it, but I don’t expect them to sign too many great players with 8 million dollars. And by the way, Mike Miller isn’t signed yet, and he can’t defend anyway.

  • bduran

    “The data presented makes it obvious that DEFENSE is not just “somewhat” more important than offense in terms of winning championships”

    Absolutely not. Since you didn’t include anything about offense in here it says nothing about this. For example, if every team was number 1 in offense then clearly offense would be more important. If every team was 15th then you’d be right. I’ve been meaning to go back and look at the numbers, but haven’t got around to it. I also wanted to have a through efficiency differential in there as well.

    BTW, saying most championships teams are in the top 3rd is a defense should not be surprising. Most championships teams have good offense is well, although I believe the average defensive rank is higher than the average offensive rank. This is why I think D is somewhat more important, but efficiency differential is king (although we should go back and look at efficiency differential for all these teams).

    “The Heat have only THREE good players on their roster.”

    That’s true, if you don’t want to include Mike Miller, but since we’re talking 5 on 5 and one of the best trios of all time, the Heat starting lineup would win. I’m sorry, but 2003 Spurs only had one dominant player, TD. The Heat have two and a very, very good player in Bosh.

    Look, clearly i’m not going to convince you. I’m pretty sure the season will, so let’s wait and see.

  • hurm66

    Jim Henderson
    July 10th, 2010 at 11:09 am

    “I really believe in the current state of the NBA, LBJ actually did the right thing. He gave Cleveland seven solid seasons, two MVP’s and a trip to the Finals.”

    *Your values and perception are becoming jaded and you apparently aren’t even aware of it.*

    I believe he heard the words that KG said about possibly staying in Minnesota too long. He finally did get his ring, but clearly he gave all he could to the Wolves while he was there. Duncan staying here is part of what makes him extra special.

    That said your myopic view is due to clinging to the past. The league has changed a great deal in the last 15 years and a one team player is going to be so rare in any sport. That’s what makes Jeter, Duncan and Robinson etc. so great.

    I’ll always remember MJ as a Wizard. Joe Montana as a Chief. But what about Kareem? He won a ring with the Bucks but he will always be known as a Laker. Same thing with LBJ now.

    “As they were constructed, they were never going to win a long series against the Celtics, Magic or Lakers.”

    *NEVER?!? That’s ridiculous.*

    Ridiculous? They had two seasons with the best record in basketball to no avail. What I meant that up to that point, they just never seemed to have enough horses to run through four series’ to win a title.

    “The Cavs erred in trying to “buy” a championship….”

    *Do you even see your hypocrisy? What do you think the Heat are doing? The three megalomaniacs are playing for charity?!? Give me a break!*

    Everything the Heat did to acquire these players was above board plain and simple. While it may appear as a drop in the bucket to you, they DID leave money on the table. (Duncan did too.)

    It’s how the Cavs tried to build around LBJ. Look at how Presti has put together that team in OKC. I can see where you’d get your warped perspective on “buying” a championship with Miami, but consider that they still have to build a team around them and with the complicated salary cap issues, you don’t see championships bought like you might in other sports.

    From current memory the last couple of attempts to buy a title in the NBA came from the abysmal Lakers team with Karl Malone and Gary Payton and every Mavs team under Cuban.

    “This whole deal doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the Gasol trade.”

    *Both are not good, but they’re not even comparable. It’s a completely different scenario. Don’t try to make this fiasco look good because of the Laker’s thievery.*

    I couldn’t possibly agree with you less. That was one of the dirtiest deals in organized sports. The Heat’s signing these three was again, above board.

    You sound, quite disturbingly, like a Laker apologist.

    “Lastly I don’t think we’ve given LBJ the credit he deserves for giving a seriously cool compliment to the Spurs core in that interview and name dropping Robinson, Duncan, Manu and TP. I got a real kick out of that. I honestly believe he respects the game and history more that MJ ever did.”

    *He’s like a robot with PR slogans programmed in to what ever he has left for a brain. Do you even know substance when you see it?*

    Let’s agree to disagree, as clearly you’re a hater. I could hear some Riley-isms when LBJ spoke, but that’s a testament to Riley. LBJ does respect these legendary Spurs and is a known fan of Manu. Best move the FO did was locking up Manu as there was chatter that he was on a very short list of players LBJ would have liked to have as a teammate.

  • bduran

    hurm66,

    I agree with you. Throughout NBA history players have left to join teams in order to win a title. Lebron leaving is no big deal. Yeah Lebron went over the top with The Decision and I think he took his foot of the gas against the Celtics, but these are separate issues. The fact that he moved to take less money in order to play with his friends and win a title (I know Jim disagree with this but clearly Lebron thinks this move helps him with that goal) is fine.

  • thecolorofmybloodissilverandblack

    @td4life, think of Bonner as 2 or a 3, not a 4 or a 5. I mean, he’s the only guy in the roster (so far that we can count on to camp beyond the arc, wait for a pass from our slashing guards and/or posting up big men, and hurl that baby from downtown. Wish we could trade him for more though.

  • Jim Henderson

    bduran
    July 12th, 2010 at 6:03 am

    “Absolutely not. Since you didn’t include anything about offense in here it says nothing about this.”

    Since you didn’t provide anything about offense, it is not reasonable to “guess” that defense is only “somewhat more important” than offense in winning championships.

    And by the way, it’s pretty hard to expect a team’s offensive rating to exceed a NUMBER ONE rating defensively, and FIVE out of the last 12 title winners had a NUMBER ONE rated DEFENSE!

    “For example, if every team was number 1 in offense then clearly offense would be more important.”

    You and I KNOW that’s not the case, without even looking at the data.

    “…..but efficiency differential is king..”

    No, efficiency differential is not king. I don’t care by how many points a team wins by, just that they win the most, particularly when they have to. The fact is, if a team has a great defense, on average, they’re going to get the all-important STOP to ensure victory.

    “That’s true, if you don’t want to include Mike Miller..”

    Mike Miller has not signed.

    “I’m sorry, but 2003 Spurs only had one dominant player, TD. The Heat have two and a very, very good player in Bosh.”

    The Heat have TWO very good defenders. The Spurs had FOUR, including two MVP/former MVP “bigs”, that shared 11 first team all-defense, and one defensive player of the year award between them. You apparently just don’t understand the value of defense. You don’t win with just TWO dominant players; you win with 5+ awesome to good players. And the Spurs of 2003 will win that battle with this years Heat. Do you forget how good TP was in his second year with us? He was way better than anything Miami is going to get at the point.

    “Look, clearly i’m not going to convince you. I’m pretty sure the season will, so let’s wait and see.”

    Yeah, I’m sure the season will convince you that I was correct.

  • Jim Henderson

    hurm66
    July 12th, 2010 at 6:15 am

    “I’ll always remember MJ as a Wizard. Joe Montana as a Chief. But what about Kareem? He won a ring with the Bucks but he will always be known as a Laker. Same thing with LBJ now.”

    Well, I certainly remember Kareem as a Buck. It was simply AWESOME during his first 6 seasons there. The only reason most people may remember him more as a Laker is because the Laker years are closer to the present, and he played twice as many seasons in LA, playing until the age of 41. Also, Kareem, as you said won a title in Milwaukee, he didn’t need to piggy-back his way to a title as LeBron is attempting to do. The Lakers were 30-52 the year before Kareem came over, and had NO other major acquisitions at the time. To compare what Kareem did to what LeBron’s doing is silly.

    “Ridiculous? They had two seasons with the best record in basketball to no avail. What I meant that up to that point, they just never seemed to have enough horses to run through four series’ to win a title.”

    Boy, you give up easier than LeBron James! Do you know how hard it is to build a team that can win a title? They don’t all happen like they did for the Spurs when Duncan came to town. That is VERY unusual. The Cavs have been making significant progress ever since LeBron got there. LeBron ought to looking within to find answers as to why they didn’t get over the top in the past two years, instead of blaming others. That’s what real leadership is all about, not choking in the most recent playoffs, and then whining to all his sycophants as he takes his ball and goes to a new neighborhood.

    “Everything the Heat did to acquire these players was above board plain and simple.”

    Actually, that’s still in doubt, hence a pending investigation into player collusion. That said, my complaint wasn’t that it was illegal, just chicken-shit.

    “While it may appear as a drop in the bucket to you, they DID leave money on the table.”

    Actually, much of that is merely a ruse, particularly for Bosh & James, because Florida does not have ANY state income taxes.
    For example, factoring in tax advantages, LeBron probably ended up leaving about a million per year on the table out of about 19 million per season, which he’ll very likely more than make up for marketing himself in a much bigger market.

    “….you don’t see championships bought like you might in other sports.”

    Oh really, did you ever look at LA’s team salary? In terms of the Heat, have you ever seen a team ever sign two superstars AND one major star on the same team, in the same year? Most teams that have a shot at multiple titles have THREE stars. Riley knows that, so he’s going to try to piece together a team around those three stars. That is an effort to BUY A TITLE. I think your brain is a bit “warped”.

    “From current memory the last couple of attempts to buy a title in the NBA came from the abysmal Lakers team with Karl Malone and Gary Payton…”

    Don’t be silly. Those players were over the hill when they signed in LA.

    This is what I said:

    *Both are not good, but they’re not even comparable. It’s a completely different scenario. Don’t try to make this fiasco look good because of the Laker’s thievery.*

    This is what you said:

    “I couldn’t possibly agree with you less. That was one of the dirtiest deals in organized sports. The Heat’s signing these three was again, above board.

    You sound, quite disturbingly, like a Laker apologist.”

    Does accusing the Laker’s of “thievery” sound like an apologist to you? I said the Laker’s & Heat deals were not “comparable”, and neither of them were good for the sport! Got it!

    “Let’s agree to disagree, as clearly you’re a hater.”

    If I’m a “hater”, you’re a moron. Perhaps we can agree on that.

    “LBJ does respect these legendary Spurs and is a known fan of Manu.”

    Do you even know what PR is? It’s to say the “right” thing to boost your own “image”. It’s not real, and there’s little substance.

    bduran
    July 12th, 2010 at 8:09 am

    You either have wacky values, appreciate idol-worship, don’t understand what’s good for the long-term health of the sport, or have no idea what you’re talking about on this issue.

  • bduran

    “Since you didn’t provide anything about offense, it is not reasonable to “guess” that defense is only “somewhat more important” than offense in winning championships.”

    I though we agreed not everything had to be proved with data? I said I “feel” this way because I’m not certain about the relative values.

    you said.

    “The data presented makes it obvious that DEFENSE is not just “somewhat” more important than offense in terms of winning championships.”

    Which is obviously false.

    When I get home I’ll look at the efficiency differential of the various champions and see what that says. Maybe I’m wrong, it’s certainly possible. Your data doesn’t say either way.

    “You apparently just don’t understand the value of defense. ”

    You seem to undervalue everything else. Like how the heat will be extremely efficient on offense and great on the boards. Also, yes Miller isn’t signed but do you honestly think he won’t be? If you want to refuse to discuss him then fine, but I think he’ll be signed so we may as well talk about what we know.

    “Do you forget how good TP was in his second year with us? He was way better than anything Miami is going to get at the point.”

    I beleive that, although Chalmers is a better defender than TP was at that point, and they won’t need much offensive creation because both Wade and Lebron can run the O. Chalmers may even be better fit for that team than ’02-’03 Parker since with Miller they’ll need D more than a creator at PG. Hill would be the perfect guard for them.

    “You either have wacky values, appreciate idol-worship, don’t understand what’s good for the long-term health of the sport, or have no idea what you’re talking about on this issue.”

    Yeah these are the only options. Excellent point as usual.

    I’ve stated on other threads it would be better for the sport if he played elsewhere. I’ve also said I’m not a fan of “The Decision”. However, I don’t think Lebron has to make his decision based on “what’s best for the sport” and I’m not going to attack him for wanting to play with his friends and do what he thinks will win him a title. Plenty of players have moved on, looking to win a title. It happens. I don’t like the hype around it in this case, but that’s at least as much the fault of the media as Lebron.

  • Jim Henderson

    bduran
    July 12th, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    “I though we agreed not everything had to be proved with data?”

    I didn’t suggest that you had to “prove” the assertion, just that the claim doesn’t seem “reasonable” without even looking at the data.

    “You seem to undervalue everything else. Like how the Heat will be extremely efficient on offense and great on the boards.”

    “Great” on the boards? What? With a far from dominant, skinny big (9.4 career rpg.), and 6’8″ & below players?

    “Also, yes Miller isn’t signed but do you honestly think he won’t be?”

    I think there’s a decent chance because he’d be playing considerably under market value, and if he had any sense of pride, he would reject the Heat hype of how great it will be to play with Wade, James, & Bosh.

    “Which is obviously false.”

    No, it’s not obviously false.

    “However, I don’t think Lebron has to make his decision based on “what’s best for the sport” and I’m not going to attack him for wanting to play with his friends and do what he thinks will win him a title.”

    Yeah, I know, it’s a ME, ME, and ME first generation. Who cares what’s good for the professional industry we work within, as long as I can play with my buddies in South Beach, I’m cool. This is not a pick-up game with your boy pals at the city park on a weekend. “Grown-up” decisions have wider implications then what’s simply best for one’s own sense of personal gratification.

  • bduran

    “No, it’s not obviously false.”

    Yes it is. Not the assertion that D is far more important but this

    “The data presented makes it obvious”

    The data does nothing of the sort.

    ““Grown-up” decisions have wider implications then what’s simply best for one’s own sense of personal gratification.”

    He works in the entertainment industry and decided to take a job with his friends that he feels give him the chance to succeed at the highest level in his field. I have no problem with that. The fact that you think that anyone who doesn’t have a problem with this has “wacky values” is ridiculous.

  • bduran

    ““Great” on the boards? What? With a far from dominant, skinny big (9.4 career rpg.), and 6’8″ & below players?”

    Two years ago Bosh had 10 and 10.8 even though he’s to skinny to do that.

    Lebron average over 7 from the SF spot, Wade 5 from the 2 spot, Mike Miller (yes I’m counting him) about 6.5 per 33 minutes as a 2/3. So yeah, they’ll be good unless they play Joel Anthony at center (couldn’t resist :) ).

    If Haslem returns to the Heat they will be a fantastic rebounding team. I think he’d be smart to go elsewhere but it looks like he’s seriously considering staying.

  • bduran

    Well, Haslem said he’s staying and taking $14 mil less ($20 mil for 5 years) to do it and Miller’s agent confirmed that he will sign with the Heat as well. Apparently those guys are really good friends.

    So now I guess the Heat have about 2 mil for one more signing? That would give them an excellent 7 man roster, plus their two draft picks makes 9.

  • Jim Henderson

    bduran
    July 12th, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    “The data does nothing of the sort.”

    It does for people that know, without even looking at the “offensive data”, that there’s NO WAY that title winners over the past 12 seasons were going to have has as many TOP “offensive rankings” as they do for “defensive rankings”, of which there were FIVE.

    “The fact that you think that anyone who doesn’t have a problem with this has “wacky values” is ridiculous.”

    I guess will just have to agree to disagree.

    bduran
    July 12th, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    “Two years ago Bosh had 10 and 10.8 even though he’s to skinny to do that.”

    That’s not very good for a star PF. Duncan averaged 12.5 rpg. between the ages of 23 & 27. Bosh has averaged 9.8 rpg. between the ages of 23 & 25.

    “Lebron average over 7 from the SF spot, Wade 5 from the 2 spot, Mike Miller (yes I’m counting him) about 6.5 per 33 minutes as a 2/3″

    LeBron & Wade are better than average for wings. Miller’s a career 5.1 rebounder per game – slightly below average for a SF.

    “If Haslem returns to the Heat they will be a fantastic rebounding team.”

    Even with Haslem’s 8 rpg., they won’t be “fantastic”. Hell, that’s what the Admiral got a age 37, in 26 mpg.

    bduran
    July 12th, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    “Well, Haslem said he’s staying and taking $14 mil less ($20 mil for 5 years) to do it and Miller’s agent confirmed that he will sign with the Heat as well. Apparently those guys are really good friends.

    So now I guess the Heat have about 2 mil for one more signing? That would give them an excellent 7 man roster, plus their two draft picks makes 9.”

    You call this a championship caliber team:

    Chalmers
    Wade
    LeBron
    Bosh
    Haslem
    Miller

    I only count six players, by the way. The two million is not going to buy you an adequate 7th man. They’re lucky if they can keep Anthony, but he’s about as valuable as your average 9th man. Too one dimensional for a 7th man. Their draft picks, two late and/or second round picks, aren’t even close to providing dependable contributions yet at the NBA level?! Perhaps it the SIX to SEVEN vet minimum players they’ll need to sign that has you so excited?

    The fact is, they have NO center, and NO depth, particularly in the power positions, which are not particular big as it is (Bosh is barely 230 lbs.; Haslem is barely 6’8″).

    So, check back with me at the all-star break. We’ll see where they’re at. They’ll be lucky to be fourth in the East, behind Orlando, Boston, & Chicago.

  • bduran

    “without even looking at the “offensive data”, that there’s NO WAY ”

    Okay, seriously, this? This is a joke right?

    “That’s not very good for a star PF”

    No, it’s good. It’s no greatest PF of all time which is what you use as a counter example. Probably not a good example to use.

    “Miller’s a career 5.1 rebounder per game – slightly below average for a SF”

    “I only count six players, by the way. ”

    Yeah I counted whoever the signed with the $2 mil. Honeslty, at this point there no need for further discussion, I agree we’ll see.

    Sorry meant to say 6.5 over the last 3 years, which is definietly above average.

  • hurm66

    Jim Henderson
    July 12th, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Stern just said there will be no investigation, that was just Mark Cuban being his usual sour grapes self instigating.

    Florida like Texas has no state income tax and is an appealing factor for free agents. So what’s your point?

    You’re just a cynical hard-liner and anyone with a different opinion must be a moron.

    Not everyone and everything is about PR and image – hence Kobe paying major respect towards Manu during his documentary film. Nothing in this league gains player respect like winning (and earning) multiple titles.

    bduran and I have tried to have civil discussions with you, but you rather aim low.

    Let’s take the high road and admit that we don’t agree without the insults since in the end we both really just want the Spurs do well and win another championship in the Duncan era.

    Oh, and you’re an idiot (kidding, bygones…LOL)

  • bduran

    Jim,

    I thought this was interesting although I don’t agree with all his conclusions.

    http://arturogalletti.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/win-regression-for-the-nba-2/

  • Jim Henderson

    bduran
    July 13th, 2010 at 5:18 am

    “Okay, seriously, this? This is a joke right?”

    No, no joke. Without even looking at the data, I would bet just about anything that there were not 5 or more title winners in the last 12 years that led the league in ORtg. And as we now know, I would have made some coin on that wager, since NONE of the title winning teams in the past 12 had the #1 ORtg.

    “No, it’s good. It’s no greatest PF of all time which is what you use as a counter example. Probably not a good example to use.”

    It’s good, but not that good for a star big man. Right now he’s about 67th on the career rebounds per game list, behind such luminaries as “Truck” Robinson, Shawn Marion, Elton Brand, Bill Laimbeer, Buck Williams, Happy Hairston, & Dan Roundfield. Of course there’s many more, but you get the picture. For a PF/C Bosh is a very good rebounder, but nothing REALLY special, and scoring the ball is clearly his best attribute. By the way, DeJuan Blair is a better rebounder than Bosh, and he’s just played one year in the league (and he doesn’t even get the chance to start yet).

    “Sorry meant to say 6.5 over the last 3 years, which is definietly above average.”

    Why are you looking at just the last three years?! Miller’s 30 years old and has been in the league ten years.

    hurm66
    July 13th, 2010 at 7:10 am

    “Stern just said there will be no investigation, that was just Mark Cuban being his usual sour grapes self instigating.”

    I assume that you’re aware that the NBA commissioner is less formally known as a politician, and successful politicians do their best to sweep uncomfortable & unprofitable truths under the proverbial rug. And it’s not about “Mark Cuban”. Check out the article at this link, although I’m sure you’ll say it’s entirely based on hearsay, and there’s really nothing to the story. Oh well, can’t say I didn’t try:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AqrghgH.cRr1X4y_27K7IU68vLYF?slug=aw-heatfreeagency071610

    “Florida like Texas has no state income tax and is an appealing factor for free agents. So what’s your point?”

    Why don’t you go out and actually learn something, and then you might get the point. Here’s a clue: Out of all the teams that had the money to realistically sign LeBron, ALL of the states the teams are in have state income taxes, most of them at 6% or more (up to 11% in the bigger markets). Care to figure what 6% of LeBron’s contract of 110 million is? Yeah, right, so he effectively left only about 3% of his income on the table by going to Miami, but since it’s a much bigger market in “sexy” South Beach, he has a good chance of exceeding that 3% easily in increased marketing & endorsements. Get the point yet? He wasn’t sacrificing jack to go to Miami, despite all the self-serving hype to the contrary.

    “You’re just a cynical hard-liner and anyone with a different opinion must be a moron.”

    You just a delusional LeBron apologist, and anyone that disagrees with you must be a “hater”.

    “Not everyone and everything is about PR and image – hence Kobe paying major respect towards Manu during his documentary film.”

    Kobe is not LeBron, not by a long shot. Kobe puts 100% focus on the details & intricacies of the game in an effort to get that special edge to win at the HIGHEST level. LeBron does not.

    “bduran and I have tried to have civil discussions with you, but you rather aim low.”

    Actually, the truth just hurts sometimes, but I’m not doing you any favors by enabling the delusions to persist, am I?

  • hurm66

    Jim your purple and gold colors are showing.

  • Jim Henderson

    hurm66
    July 17th, 2010 at 3:02 am

    I call a spade a spade, regardless of color.