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.

  • Ken

    Awesome!

  • DieHardSpur

    Timmy is a CLASS ACT.

    The SPURS organization is the FINEST in the league.

  • Sarge

    It is astounding to me how fortunate we have been to get class acts not once, but twice. Truly, the Spurs have been blessed.

  • metalandganja

    this post totally just gave me a warm-fuzzy. i <3 timmeh even more, which i felt was impossible 5 minutes ago. =)

  • CDM

    the spurs are the most uninteresting and bland team in all of major sports

  • Joe

    And to those who want to pat LBJ, Wade, and Bosh on the back for taking less than the max to play together, let’s remember that each of our big 3 has signed a less than market value contract to stay here, too, only they didn’t need a nationally televised hour-long special to do it.

  • DieHardSpur

    Damn good call Joe!

  • zainn
  • Thriced

    I’m glad that while all the Legarbage is going on, I can always turn to the Spurs and see how a professional sports franchise and its players should act.

  • td4life

    oh boy, Bonner gets a raise and we are stuck with 4 more years of that crap.

    If they don’t add real big men, who can play D, just like Timmy asked for, and let Bonner earn all his dollars in the practice facility, then then Pop’s credibility is tanking.

    More of Bonner and RJ sharing duties at PF, I hate this.

  • rj

    “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.”

    this line choked me up.

    well said. finest article i’ve seen on this bolg.

    48min guys, you all are awsome

  • DGino

    Very well said. Once Timmy retires, I’m not sure we will ever see another player of his kind. He truly defines what a superstar player should be. What I love the most about Tim is how he carries himself and he is the most humble player in the league. In my eyes Tony and Manu are right behind Tim. They are superstars as well, but, we are in a time in sports where superstars are made by the media, they unfortunately don’t get the recognition they truly deserve. We truly have been blessed as Spurs fans.

  • Hobson13

    @Zainn
    Great! Now that we have the exact same players as last year (minus Mason,Bogans, RJ, and Splitter for now) we can expect to have the exact same results. I really hoped we would make changes this summer, but apparently our FO is content with the status quo. I sure hope I’m wrong with this analysis, but as every day goes by, this is becoming more and more true. Perhaps there’s something cooking that we don’t know about. Our FO is usually tight-lipped about draft and trade developments…

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  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Lenneezz

    I can’t say I’m thrilled that Boner got a 4 yr deal.

  • bduran

    Great post. You did a great job of defining the difference between what it has been like for the Spurs to have Tim Duncan vs. what it’s been like for the Cavs to have LBJ without spewing vitriol about LBJ.

    I don’t like what LBJ did, but I’m not going to crucify him. I will root against Miami, but without hate. Also, I will always, always, be grateful for guys like TD and David Robinson.

    I do disagree with this though.

    “Age prohibiting, it would appear the NBA finals still run through Los Angeles and Boston. The Lakers are still the unquestioned favorite.”

    To my mind it’s Miami vs. LA right now with both teams being pretty equal. That’s next year. Once Miami get’s the MLE and LLE going forward it’s all Miami.

  • Daniel

    The Cavs just became the Bucks– no superstar, no hope of one. Lots of talented, productive players, but no high draft picks, and a roster good enough to be a low seed in the playoffs for years to come.

  • idahospur

    Born, raised, and still live in Boise, Idaho. Not exactly sure of what it means to live in a professional sports town as I probably never will. For various reasons I’ve chosen certain sports teams to cheer for. The reason I came to the Spurs was seeing one of the classiest basketball players ever, David Robinson. Last night reminded me of why I love the Spurs!

  • rj

    i would be ok with bonner staying if we could move antonio mcdyess. we will bind another big to go with splitter and duncan.

    i’m sure retaining matt bonner also insures tony parker stays. what good is matt bonner without dribble penetration. like it or not, we need shooting and we have one of the keagues best in our backyard.

    so…..trade mcdyess? get mahinmi back? duncan and dyess need rest this year and we can’t rely on heavy minutes from bonner and blair to sure up the front court.

    i am in agreemnet. no more rj at pf, damnit!!

  • quincyscott

    What Abbott does not take into consideration is that Cleveland has now been stabbed in the back by both of the characters he depicts: an egomaniacal owner, Art Model, and an equally egomaniacal player, Lebron James. Abbott goes on to criticize the Cleveland fans for not being more considerate and appreciative of what Lebron James has done for them. Certainly James himself is very enamored of all he has done for the Cleveland fan base, but I for one can absolutely understand why they feel betrayed.

    Whether getting screwed by a player or by an owner, the bottom line is that the Cleveland fans have been screwed. Abbot seems to think that getting screwed by a star athlete is somehow more noble. I’m sure this will do little to make Cavs fans feel better. Abbott is just indulging in hero worship, and I’m sure most Cavs fans have been cured of that for good.

  • rj

    @ Daniel

    u ever heard of brandon jennings and andrew bogut? that illyasova kid is pretty good

  • MarkTwain’sGhost

    Merlyn rules! TD is an awesome round ball player and he plays Dungeons and Dragons! My favorite hobbies.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Lenneezz

    Spurs players, brass and fans (in general) have a certain level of knowledge, respect, sincerity and passion. It is a great combination and almost always wins the hearts and minds of classy individuals.

  • Rey

    I think that comparing Lebron to Timmy would be like comparing a creek to the Pacific Ocean: Lebron the Creek may be exciting to look at with its flowing water and interesting creatures on the surface, but that’s all there is to it. Deep inside, it’s just a shallow, noisy body of water. Timmy the Ocean, on the other hand, may seem flat and boring, but looking at him at a much deeper perspective reveals a very deep, interesting character filled with sense and strong sense of self-confidence and security. Timmy didn’t need publicity in order to live. I think that like his equally great predecessor, David Robinson, Timmy understands that this is, after all, a basketball game and not a circus.

    For a moment there, I really thought that some sort of decency would come out of Lebron, but to have the media – and more importantly, the Cleveland fans – play like pawns to his so-called “Kingship” shows more about the man than his ball-playing. I look at him now and see a very immature kid trying to think that he’s the center of the world.

    Don’t get me wrong, though. I understand his leaving Cleveland with the management’s disappointing handling of talents, but I don’t think the Cavs fans deserve to be taken for a ride on this one. Lebron should have at least kept his mouth shut about leaving and just did it without fanfare. I look at Karl Malone when he became a Laker and I understand his burning desire to win a championship ring, but at the very least, he didn’t have to hold press conferences to play guessing game and leave Utah fans high and dry. Maybe the same thing could be said to Shaq when he left Orlando and KG when he left the Timberwolves.

    I share the disappointment of the Cavs fan, but at the same time I feel thankful for being a Spurs fan. We have been blessed to have drafted two egoless #1 picks in Robinson and Duncan whose understanding of life is much deeper than their desire for more fame.

  • Joe

    Regarding the balance of power issue, it may be too early in the summer to tell yet. If Melo stalls in signing an extension and Denver decides to cut salary and move on rather than face what just happened to Cleveland, or if Nash decides he wants to spend his last couple of years on a real contender now that Amare is gone, or if Paul all-out demands a trade, it’s possible that the landscape could change dramatically between now and opening day. Dallas, LA, and Chicago, among other potential contenders, have the assets to possibly land one of those guys.

  • Bentley

    Great article.

    Winning a championship is always a goal, and from that perspective alone, I understand why LeBron felt like he needed to leave Cleveland. The only problem is, Cleveland was a good team and could have competed for a championship if he stayed. They just had two 60+ win seasons and ultimately fell short because guys did not show up deep into the playoffs. LeBron has quit on his team, he told them his goal was to bring Cleveland a championship, but he failed. I don’t buy that he walked away from the Cavs because he felt like he couldnt win with them, because that makes absolutely no sense. The team won 120+ games the past two seasons.

    And I am not so high on the Heat right now. They have four players! they still need to find away to assemble a team(with the little cap space they have) and then devleop it over the course of the season. It is fair to call them favorites, but its far from over. What is on a piece of paper, can’t do anything. So we’ll see as the season plays out. The Lakers still have to be the favorites. At least until Miami gets some size and reliable shooting.

    Poor Cavs fans. My condolences go out to you. But the Cavaliers still have some good pieces. They should use LeBron leaving as motivation for maybe a great season and a playoff appearance. Try to build around what you have and make the city proud Cleveland FO

  • Jim Henderson

    td4life
    July 9th, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    “oh boy, Bonner gets a raise and we are stuck with 4 more years of that crap.

    If they don’t add real big men, who can play D, just like Timmy asked for, and let Bonner earn all his dollars in the practice facility, then then Pop’s credibility is tanking.

    More of Bonner and RJ sharing duties at PF, I hate this.”

    Hobson13
    July 9th, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    “Great! Now that we have the exact same players as last year (minus Mason,Bogans, RJ, and Splitter for now) we can expect to have the exact same results.”

    Well put guys. I’m not happy with this decision either. It clearly shows a team interested in clinging to the status quo, believing that they can tinker and still stay in contention, or worse, resigning themselves to the fact that the Spurs will just have to accept being a good team, but not a championship contender for the foreseeable future. This is not good news. We cannot afford to spend millions on “wasted” roster spots.

    quincyscott
    July 9th, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Nice post, quincy.

  • http://mvgennero@yahoo.com mvg03

    NO WAY!!! NOT MATT ONE TRICK PONY BONNER!!!! if splitter doesnt come im might cry

  • Jacob

    Face it everyone, Bonner is just better than anything we could have gotten to replace him (crying on the inside)…

  • Jim Henderson

    This pretty much summarizes my thoughts on the James issue:

    “As the worst idea in the history of marketing unfolded, James looked trapped somewhere between despondence and defiance. His bumbling buddy Maverick Carter had walked him into the public execution of his legacy, his image, and there was a part of James that clearly wished he could turn back through the doors and hide. Only, it was too late. No going back now. James goes to the Miami Heat, Cleveland goes into a basketball Hades and LeBron’s legacy becomes that of a callous carpetbagger……..“His brand is [bleep] now,” one high-level NBA official said late Thursday. “He’s destroyed everything.”

    “So there was LeBron James, the MVP, the man of the hour, sitting in the middle of his own “Truman Show” on Thursday night. His personal network ran his commercials and celebrated his greatness and let him hijack a platform to build his brand and break hearts. He can never go home again now, and he can never completely rebuild what he let his cast of buddies talk him into losing that night. He’s taking his talents to South Beach, and the kid going away for the first time will have some party down there. After all these years, it was clear he had been coddled and protected and ultimately prepared to do one thing: Take the easy way out. Wherever he was going, he looked conflicted, lost and completely confused.

    What a spectacle, what a train wreck.

    What a shame.”

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=Asi8EcEJKixWXqBHC3fKHD.8vLYF?slug=aw-lebrondecision070910

  • Jim Henderson

    Jacob
    July 9th, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    “Face it everyone, Bonner is just better than anything we could have gotten to replace him (crying on the inside)…”

    Even if you’re correct, that is a SAD story.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Jesse Blanchard

    @BDuran

    If the Miami Heat get an MLE or LLE then you might be correct. Who knows, it might not matter this year. But a possible (though not definite) flaw to that thinking.

    The current CBA is up at the end of this upcoming season and the owners are pushing for a hard salary cap with no exceptions to build teams through. As bad an idea as I think that might be, I doubt that players have learned their lesson in money management and I think that the owners will always have leverage in these situations.

    So that MLE, LLE and championships aren’t sure things just yet (though I do acknowledge they’re more likely than they were for the Heat and it was absolutely the right thing to do).

  • Jim Henderson

    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/miami-heat/sfl-miami-heat-michael-beasley-s070810,0,6830775.story

    So now it looks like the Heat have one signed player, four players on the verge of signing, and just about SIX million left to add a required EIGHT more players to the paid roster. Good luck fielding a team that could challenge with 8 player’s salaries averaging under ONE million dollars, and playing with a trio of ego and meglomaniacs.

  • doggydogworld

    Ticket760 reporting Splitter deal is done, will sign Monday. Really hope they’re right. About the Monday thing. Always knew he’d sign. Never doubted. I swear.

  • Jim Henderson

    Bentley
    July 9th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    “And I am not so high on the Heat right now. They have four players! they still need to find away to assemble a team(with the little cap space they have) and then devleop it over the course of the season.”

    Right on, Bentley.

    “Poor Cavs fans. My condolences go out to you. But the Cavaliers still have some good pieces. They should use LeBron leaving as motivation for maybe a great season and a playoff appearance. Try to build around what you have and make the city proud Cleveland FO”

    The Cavs aren’t done. Not with Byron Scott as coach. That guy can truly coach. I think he’s greatly under-rated, and was unfairly shafted by the Hornets. He’ll develop players with the right “team first” attitude. A breath of fresh air will sweep through the Cavs team once the stinking ashes from the “King’s” exit disperse out over Lake Erie. Good riddance. We don’t need a KING, we need a TEAM should be the new team slogan.

  • bduran

    Jesse,

    Excellent point, I hadn’t considered that. A hard, or harder at least, cap would prevent this team from running away from everyone else. I still think that they’ll be very good this year and the favorite in the East.

    Jim,

    Most players at the end of rotations don’t contribute much anyways so the fact that they need eight more players is exaggerating the issue. They have 5 now. They need 2 to 3 more for a 7 to eight man rotation. Their four best players are all very good. With six mil they can sign one or to more solid rotation guys and fill out the last with vet min guys and still be very competitive. Whatever you think about them personally, the bottom line is these guys are great basketball players.

    Also, their egos were no problem in the Olympics. In fact, the media kept harping on the opposite. They complained that people didn’t seem willing to step up and take over like they do on their NBA teams.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Lenneezz

    Jim Henderson
    July 9th, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Excellent post man. Spot on.

  • Ian

    I’ve always thought a firmly established team culture was more important than having more super stars in the roster. Cavs spoiled LeBron by letting him too loose and LeBron ultimately let them down big time, ditching them in the dirt.
    Yeah and anyone who claims Duncan should take a pay cut or be traded can go to hell too. Duncan stayed loyal and delivered 3 more championships, when he could’ve just bolted for the FA and sign elsewhere. He deserves every f*cking penny he is earning/will earn. TD should retire a Spur even if it means hampering the team’s rebuilding efforts a little bit.
    I don’t really like the re-signing of Bonner at such a high figure, but I guess it’s SA organisation rewarding a player who’ve put a lot of efforts for the team, kind of like what they did with Manu last season. That’s understandable and a classy thing to do from non-basketball point of view. Now if only Pop can refrain from using him 15+ minutes…

  • Jim Henderson

    http://twitter.com/STEIN_LINE_HQ/status/18150359203

    Bulls sign Korver. GREAT move for the Bulls. I would even favor the Bulls now over the Heat.

  • Jim Henderson

    bduran
    July 9th, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    In my view, you under-value the critical importance of having “talented role players”, and team depth. The Heat will be fortunate to win ONE title in the next four years, a title that they bought in a trend that could end up gutting the league. Also, I believe in Karma, which is not a good omen for the “new Heat”.

    Ian
    July 9th, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Solid post.

  • triple-dot

    “Once Timmy retires, I’m not sure we will ever see another player of his kind.”

    I think we already have one: Kevin Durant. He is a class act, surprisingly self-effacing for his age and talent.

  • rcast1986

    Apparently, first class, winning organizations deserve a blog that suits them.

    Great, great post. As always.

  • Mike Yarbrough

    Great piece – this is what my ‘final draft’ re this subject would have said verbatim

    As a fan i feel fortunate and smile about having tim on the roster – he is a once-in-a-lifetime player to have

    tim vs. lebron (for the hell of it): lebron 0 championships. tim 4

    gotta love the NBA

  • bduran

    “In my view, you under-value the critical importance of having “talented role players”, and team depth.”

    No, I think this is very, very important. I just think the Heat are in a very rare situation where they can get by with much less than normal. I think you disagree with how good I think Wade, Bosh, and Lebron will be. It’ll at least be interesting finding out.

  • Jim Henderson

    bduran
    July 9th, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    “No, I think this is very, very important.”

    Well, they’re VERY unlikely to get it for awhile, so why are you so high on their chances?

  • bduran

    Jim,

    ” I just think the Heat are in a very rare situation where they can get by with much less than normal”

    What I’m saying is when they got those guys they started playing by different rules. Depth is less important for them then us, the Lakers, Boston, etc. because their top 3 our so much better. It’s simple really, if their top 3 are significantly better than anyone else’s top 3, then they don’t need as much from the rest of their team as everyone else does. So the question is, do you think they have the best top 3 in the league?

    Also, they have become the destination franchise of the NBA so they can do more with there small amount of money than other teams would be able to.

  • DorieStreet

    @ idahospur

    In a pro sports town/city there’s an omnipresence- billboards & bumper stickers; the logo in neon signs at gas stations and bars. Players appearing at schools, car dealerships, concerts, other sporting events, or pitching products on tv and radio. Paper and magnetic schedules in grocers and liquor stores. Every day you see someone wearing team gear- be it an old man with a faded cap or a young woman busting out of a tank top. Opening night tip off is the first day of school and the last game- be it the end of a 32-50 campaign or a Finals game seven victory -is auld lange syne; the season is a calender year of sorts. But hey–you’ve got a similar vibe with Boise State Football, right?

  • David

    wow,well put. ty so much for your writing!!!!

  • Jim Henderson

    bduran
    July 9th, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    “Depth is less important for them then us, the Lakers, Boston, etc. because their top 3 our so much better.”

    It is a little less important to a point, but they are still going to struggle to find the key role players that “fit”, and also with acquiring sufficient depth. Look at how great our BIG three were in 2005. But we only won that title because of guys like Bowen, Barry, Horry, Mohammed, Rose, and even a guy like Devin Brown was important as an extra shooter off the bench. Many of these guys happened to be very unique players, and were not super cheap at the time. Miami’s available payroll after the big three plus Miller are signed is not a pretty picture. There’s no way they get anything close to our 2005 non-star/role players in terms of quality & clutch play in the playoffs. An to be honest, I don’t put James, Wade, & Bosh that much higher than our big three in their prime, during tense playoff game match-ups. They played less minutes than the Heat big three will play, but that only subtracts from their need of about one role player. I listed one non-star starter & FIVE important role players above. You think the Heat are going to find five role players this off-season comparable to the ones I listed above, for the money they have available, and a center comparable to Nesterovic? If you do, I have a bridge over Brooklyn I’d like to sell you. And by the way, the five non-starters/role players, that we used to support our BIG three in 2005, their combined salaries, when accounting for today’s higher salary cap, came to about 21 million dollars. So along with their five starting player’s salaries, the Spurs paid an additional 21 million in max-cap-adjusted terms for their next five role players. The heat are likely to have just 4 starters signed, and only have about six-seven million left to not only sign their last starter, and 5 additional role players, but their last three reserves they’re required to sign to make the minimum roster of 13 (all obviously signed at about a million or a little lower). Thus, the Heat will have less than a third as much money to sign their rotation players & reserves as the Spurs did in 2005. So the quality of players the Heat will get beyond the top four or five is unlikely to be anywhere in the same ballpark as what the Spurs had when they won the championship in 2005.

    And, do you honestly think there’s that big of a gap between our big three in 2005, and the Heats big three now, in terms of how much less money they’ll have to adequately assemble and pay for players 5 through 13 than our big three had? Granted the Heat big three are excellent players. But just remember, one of the reasons that the Heats big three’s stats are more prolific during much of their careers is because they’ve been on teams where they were clearly the best player on their teams. That was never so with our big three (Duncan better, but not by a particularly wide gap). All three of them had their unique strengths and so they distributed the ball well & shared the production fairly evenly. If any of those three when in their prime were on other teams that had a bunch mediocre to good players, they all would have averaged between 20-25 ppg., etc. In fact, Parker averaged 22 ppg. the year Manu was out most of the season. And Manu averaged 19.5 in 2008, in 31 mpg. We know what Duncan has done. In the 2005 title year he averaged 20, 11, and 2.6 blocks. And by the way, there’s no comparison in terms of being an all-around player between Duncan in his prime, and Bosh. Bosh is close to as a good as a scorer, but Duncan performed at a higher level in every other area of the game. Obviously LeBron & Wade have the advantage over TP & Manu in the box scores, but not in the title category, not by a long shot, and they’ve been with good organizations that have at least tried to get them the players to win. Wade won one title while playing along side the most dominant big man in the past 15-20 years, and beat a perennial choke team in 2006: the Mavs.

    I’m just saying, the Heat need more decent to special role players than you think to win, and I just don’t see where they’re going to come up with the cash to get them. When the hype subsides people will start to realize that special role players are not going to come to Miami to play for under market value and/or cheap to play with these three egomaniacs.

  • Hurm66

    I couldn’t sleep for a few nights back in 2000 when ESPN.com had their title page split with the image of Duncan and Grant Hill. I felt awful, but somehow he stayed and we’ve been blessed as fans.

    That said, I can tell you from living in Miami all my life that Wade is a special dude. 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.

    As they were constructed, they were never going to win a long series against the Celtics, Magic or Lakers. The Cavs erred in trying to “buy” a championship and should have gone the route that Spurs alumnus Sam Presti is utilizing in OKC with Durant: build slowly and develop through the draft and with solid role players.

    This whole deal doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the Gasol trade. Jerry West leaves his GM duties in Memphis and goes to LA as a “consultant” and in January pulls the all time greatest heist in the organized sports?!?!? The Lakers were a perennial first round loser before that trade.

    Kobe’s legacy?!?!? The tirades, the trade demands, the rape…those last two rings deserve a very emphatic asterisk.

    This is Pat Riley’s revenge on Stern and the Lakers. Their mission is the demolish Kobe and the Lakers.

    Here’s the thing though: with Splitter now in the fold apparently, and TP playing “like a revenge” on a contract year, Manu and TD being the ultimate winners and champions that they are – with a little more tinkering (read another shooter, say Eddie House or someone similar, and Dorell Wright – PLEASE SIGN THIS GUY RIGHT NOW! he can be had rather cheaply) and I honestly believe the Lakers aren’t going to get to the Finals.

    One more run for the Spurs in a seriously lighter Western Conference? Yes sir. The FO and Pop are quiet and scheming and this whole affair feels like the classic “under the radar” and “no one gives us a shot so what do we have to lose” vibe of 2003.

    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.