May 21, 2012

San Antonio Spurs seem destined for a fifth NBA title

Forget it Heat, it's San Antonio's year.

Don't worry, America, the Miami Heat won't win the NBA title. Texas will take care of it. Again.

Last year, it was your Dallas Mavericks becoming America's Team by denying Bron Bron, D-Wade and whoever else plays for the Miami Heat their God-given right to the first of their "five, six or seven" NBA championships.

This year, if the Heat actually makes it that far, Los Spurs de San Antonio will prevent America's Least Favorite team from winning a title.

The Spurs will do so not only because they realize that winning a title requires more than two players, but also because, in this prolonged run of excellence, they never settled for just one title. (If you think that's a dig at the Mavs, it's because it is.)

Not that you would have noticed it given the noise reverberating from LA to South Beach, but what the Spurs are doing right now may be one of the most impressive runs in the NBA in recent memory.

Check out these Xbox stats: In a season limited to just 66 games, the Spurs managed to hit 50 wins. Including a pair of sweeps in the playoffs, the Spurs have won 18 straight games, and 29 of their past 31.

The Thunder figures to throw a tiny wrench into the Spurs' undefeated playoff record in the West Finals, but barring an injury, quiet, little San Antonio is going to have its fifth title since 1999.

As competent as Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson have proven to be in this decade in building good teams, they don't belong in the same category as the suits running things in San Antonio.

No team has surrounded its superstar with quality players or turned spares into capable NBA performers better than the Spurs. Mavs GM Donnie Nelson may love him some Euro basketball, but no team finds foreign parts better than the Spurs.

Manu Ginobili was the 57th pick in the '99 draft. Tony Parker was the 28th pick in '01.

The team has been so well built it had people believing Avery Johnson and Bruce Bowen were good NBA players before they arrived in San Antonio. Their numbers are retired in San Antonio today, and these guys were journeymen before they arrived in S.A.

Today's team has guys like the red-haired Matt Bonner producing. He looks like a goofy dude that you wouldn't want in a pickup game, and you laugh at him until he buries those leaning 3-pointers in your face. Danny Green was a nothing with the Cavaliers but, with the Spurs, he produces solid numbers (9.1 points, 3.5 rebounds per game). Now they have young guys like DeJuan Blair rebounding, and rookie Kawhi Leonard hitting 3s.

The Mavericks "team" received national love last year because they were playing against the anti-team in the Heat, but the Spurs were doing this long before Dirk Nowitzki finally got his.

The Spurs may be antisocial, anti-media and do a spectacular job of not selling themselves, but they "get it." Anything outside of winning is whining.

When the Spurs lose (they haven't reached the Finals since 2007), there are no excuses of "a bounce here or there and things could be different," no cries of bad officiating, no detailed condescending explanations of how the rest of the world is just too dumb to understand something as complicated as basketball.

Cuban may be correct that a few of us don't understand the many complexities of the collective bargaining agreement, but even I know you can't start Brendan Haywood and expect to win an NBA title.

You can't dress up a collection of older names and sell them as viable support around your star and sincerely expect to contend for a title, like your 2011-12 Mavs did.

Meanwhile, the Heat trots out two of the NBA's most dynamic players in Bron and D-Wade and prays the collection of stiffs surrounding them can do as the Spurs. The Heat plays 2-on-5, and because those two are so good they may actually reach another Finals. We are talking about the Eastern Conference, people.

That routine will fail again because the best team, again, comes from Texas.

You can thank us later.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @MacEngelProf

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