I haven’t hid the fact at all that, since I started Wayniac Nation a little over a year ago, I am not what you would call an active NBA writer. I am usually good for two or three posts a year on the professional basketball circuit, one around All Star Break and a couple heading down the 20-week road that is also called the NBA Playoffs. Why break tradition now?
I also haven’t hid the fact that when it comes to fandom, I have no problem admitting that I am a bandwagon San Antonio Spurs fan. When my beloved New Jersey Nets split for Brooklyn, they hardly had any semblance of the team I grew up watching, often winning 20 games a year. So, I ditched them and jumped on the Spurs bandwagon, not because they win, but because they play basketball the right way. Almost as if to prove me right, after I wrote about how great a dynasty they were last season (you can read it here if you missed it), they went and took down Queen James and won another Championship.
I used to think that the greatest coach in the history of the NBA was a three horse race between Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. Enter 2015 and I no longer think it’s a race: Pops is the tops. It doesn’t have to do with the fact that he dethroned the King en route to yet another championship, and it doesn’t have to do with the fact that he recently won his 1,000 win (which he incidentally has the second highest winning percentage of anyone with 1,000 wins and the guy ahead of him had Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal on his rosters). No, it has to do with Coach Bud.
Welcome to the newest feature at Wayniac Nation. Every Sunday, I am going to take you the world of sports for the week that was. So sit back, grab some coffee, and let’s go around the world of sports!
The entire world has been engulfed by the World Cup this past week. Whether you love futbol or are one of those people who loves to bash it for being boring and soft (yet tune into baseball and LeBron James and his cramps), the numbers don’t lie: more people are watching than aren’t. Luis Suarez had two goals in his 2014 World Cup debut to send England packing before the knockout round for the first time in nearly 60 years. In just three short weeks, Suarez has to return to Liverpool for the start of The Barclays/ EPL season where I’m sure he will receive a very warm welcome. Spain, who has been ranked number one in the world since 2008 and are the reigning World Cup champs, were bounced by the Cinderella Chile national team. And then there is the good ol’ US of A. Our men’s national team pulled off a big win against Ghana in game one and later today, take on an injury-plagued, suspension-filled Portugal team. The US had two great goals against Ghana but played an otherwise uninspiring game, despite the fact that major sports sites gushed about their game one performance, proving what most of the world already knew: Americans know nothing about soccer. Jozy Altidore is out, our captain has a broken nose, and the man who put US Soccer on the map in Landon Donovan is sitting at home.
Speaking of boring sports, let’s turn to baseball. MLB’s biggest diva hadn’t been in the spot light for several months, so Alex Rodriguez returned to the headlines by dropping his lawsuit against the Yankees’ medical staff. Early reports indicate that A-Rod didn’t necessarily realize he was wrong, but ultimately discovered that no one gave a rat’s ass. On a serious note, the baseball world and San Diego mourned the passing of a great one. Tony Gwynn left us this week, but will always be remembered by his big hits and bigger smile. As a lifelong Gwynn fan, I paid tribute to him this past Tuesday. If you missed it, please check it out: The Loss of a Legend.
BONEHEAD OF THE WEEK AWARD: Hanley Ramirez, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers.The 30-year old, 10-year MLB veteran short stop made the biggest error of his career on Wednesday night. Ramirez threw away an easy out in the seventh inning an in doing so, he threw out Clayton Kershaw’s perfect game, which would have arguably been the best perfect game ever thrown. Kershaw was dealing Wednesday night, needing just 107 pitches en route to striking out 15 Rockies and walking none. Yet Hanley Ramirez couldn’t reach first base. Well done, dumb ass.
Big news in the world of golf: Lucy Li, an 11-year old prodigy, made big news appearing in the Women’s US Open becoming the youngest girl ever to do so. While she didn’t make the cut, she did extremely well with 78s on an extremely tough Pinehurt No. 2 course and finished 120th out of 154 contestants. I mean, really, how bad do those 34 women feel who lost to an 11-year old right now? Oh yea, Tiger Woods also returns this coming tournament. Waffle House waitress nation wide rejoice.
The NBA is done and the Spurs, as predicted here on Wayniac Nation, won their fifth championship. Which of course means all the talk has been about Pat Riley and his big three attention hounds in Miami. Will LeBron be back? Is Dywane Wade healthy enough? Is Chris Bosh really a dinosaur? No one seems to care that Tim Duncan, the greatest power forward of all time, is 38-years old and may retire. Everyone forgot that Tony Parker was banged up heading into the Finals and like Wade, his body seems to be wearing down. Oh yea, Gregg Popovich secured his fifth ring in 18 years. No one cares.
The NFL OTAs are still under way and Andre Johnson is still a no show. I’m sure that Bill O’Brien officially naming Ryan Fitzpatrick starting quarterback for my Houston Texans will change Johnson’s mind and have him running back to training camp.
And lastly, there is nothing to report from the NHL because, well quite frankly, who the hell cares about hockey anymore anyway? But seriously folks, the Rangers lost the Stanley Cup to the Los Angeles Kings. Hope you enjoyed it Rangers’ fans. If history has showed us anything, your team won’t be relevant for at least another 20 years.
There you have it, the world of sports in under 700 words. Now go get your red, white, and blue on because I BELIEVE…
The NBA Finals are set and I can’t wait. Despite Lance Stephenson‘s best efforts, the Pacers blew the series (see what I did there?) and the Heat rolled to their fourth straight title series. The Spurs and Thunder played a bizarre series out West in which the home team completely dominated the first five games until last night’s overtime thriller that sent the Spurs back to the Finals for a second consecutive season.
What a great night for March Madness, huh, folks? As predicted right here on Wayniac Nation yesterday, the #7 seed UConn Huskies will face off against the #8 seed Kentucky Wildcats. Two legendary programs will be going for the National Championship and all of the glory of cutting down the nets in North Texas.
Speaking of legendary programs, I’m shifting gears to the NBA for this Sunday’s blog post. My brother text me a question that I have been pondering since he asked it of me a month ago. He still lives in Manhattan, pretty close to Madison Square Garden. He asked, “Why does no one give a crap about the San Antonio Spurs, yet MSG is overflowing every night that the Knicks and Rangers play who are beloved for pretty much never winning anything?” It’s a great question.
Gregg Popovich took over a San Antonio Spurs team a third of the way through the 1996 season that had pretty much been irrelevant since their heydays in the ABA. Sure, they had The Iceman crushing everybody in scoring in the late-70s and early 80s. Yes, they made some noise in the 1989-90 season when rookie David Robinson lead them to the then biggest turnaround in NBA history as they from 21-61 to 56-26 in a single season. They had never won anything significant though until they drafted Tim Duncan. That is when they became arguably one of the greatest franchises in the history of sports.
5 REASONS THAT THE SAN ANTONIO SPURS ARE THE MOST UNDERRATED DYNASTY OF ALL-TIME
5. The 50 Win Seasons: Earlier this season, the Spurs once again broke their own record with their 15th consecutive season with 50 or more wins. What people sometimes overlook is that they finished the strike-shortened 1998-99 season at 37-13. If that was a full season, the Spurs would have 17 consecutive seasons of winning 50 games or more.
That is simply remarkable. They have averaged 56 wins a year over those 17 seasons for a .683 winning percentage. That is the equivalent of a Major League Baseball team going 111-51 for 17 straight seasons or an NFL team going 11-5 for the same amount of time.
Here is what is even more remarkable. If a team’s greatness is judged by championships the only franchises more successful than the Spurs are the Celtics, the Lakers, and the Bulls. Over the same 17 year period, the Lakers have ten 50-plus-win seasons, the Celtics have four, and the Bulls have two. The New York Knicks, who are in the news all of the time and are still highly rated in both attendance and viewing audiences, have two.
4. Gregg Popovich is one of the three greatest coaches ever… end of story.
Since the Spurs Dynasty began with their first 1998-99 World Championship, Gregg Popovich has gone 891-367. Excluding the 1996-97 season in which he took over during the season, he has never had a losing record. His 964 career wins rank him 9th all-time in only 17 and a half seasons (that is 1404 career games which ranks 15th all-time) while everyone above him has or had coached for 20 or more seasons. He owns a 4-1 career record in the NBA Championship series and is a two-time Coach of the Year. The Spurs have won at the highest level consistently under his reign with unselfish, team centered basketball with very little mega-stars along the way. The debate for greatest NBA Head Coach of all-time starts with Phil Jackson, mentions Red Auerbach, and ends with Gregg Popovich. No one else comes close.
3. The Longevity. You would think once, just ONCE, in 17 consecutive dominating seasons, the San Antonio Spurs would have accumulated a fair-weather fan base. You know, like those d-bags who have never been to Yankee Stadium and wear those pink or camouflage Yankee hats and claim that they are Yankee fans? Or those morons who are “die-hard” Red Sox Nation fans because they hate the Yankees and don’t even know who Bucky Dent or Aaron Boone are? It just doesn’t make sense.
The Popovich/Duncan Era of Spurs basketball is one of the greatest eras in all of sports history. In the 16 years that Popovich and Duncan have been united, the Spurs have gone from having zero NBA Championships to having the 4th most all-time. The Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Chicago Bulls are the only three teams to surpass them. And yet if they aren’t playing the Knicks or King James in the Finals, no one watches. How has the NBA not figured out a way to market one of the top ten franchises in all of sports history to a larger fan base?
2. The Real Big Three
Before The Three Amigos in Boston and way before the Big Three in Miami, the Spurs quietly put together the biggest three of them all. They have no ESPN commercials together, they have no national endorsements, and a lot of average fans probably don’t know who that Argentinian guy is. The one thing Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan do have together is two more championships than The Three Amigos (Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce) or The Big Three (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh) have won in their overhyped tenures together.
I get that the New York media is a maelstrom of overhype and chatty Cathys wanting to make any story a headline, but think about how much attention the Core Four has gotten over the years for the New York Yankees. Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and of course, Derek Jeter, won 5 championships over 17 years together. Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili have won 3 championships throughout their 12 year reign. For all of the hype and women that Derek Jeter has snagged, Tony Parker was married to this:
If that didn’t put the Spurs on the map, then it truly is a helpless cause.
1. Tim Duncan is one of the best players to ever suit up.
This is the truly amazing aspect that I can’t figure out. The NBA, more than any other sport, is a star-driven sport. When LeBron finally leaves Miami, the Heat will lose a huge chunk of their fan base. My friend Benny Smalls is a die-hard Bulls fan to this day simply because he loved Michael Jordan at North Carolina and followed him up through his career. The San Antonio Spurs have one of the best players IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME and no one watches.
I’m well aware why. The Big Fundamental simply does everything you are supposed to do and he does it better than almost everybody else. What he doesn’t do is flashy dunks. He doesn’t make ESPN’s top ten lists and he doesn’t tweet about nonsense or other players that he is jealous about. All he does do is win trophies. Yet more people idolized that punk Allen Iverson than ever tuned into one of the 3 NBA Finals MVP performances Duncan has thrown together.
Let’s just look at the resume, shall we?
The 1998 Rookie of the Year
The NBA MVP in both 2002 and 2003
The NBA Finals MVP in 1999, 2003, and 2005
The All-Star Game MVP in 2000
14 All-Star appearances (he missed one in 1999 because there was no All Star game and the other in 2012 because of injuries)
10 All-NBA First Team appearances including 8 in a row
8 Defensive All-NBA First Team appearances
5th all time in defensive rebounds (10,344)
12th all time in total rebounds (13,905)
24th all time in total points (24,849)
Yet no one is walking around the streets in the black and silver 21 jerseys. More people own Derrick Rose jerseys than Duncan jerseys and Rose hasn’t played in a century. Jason Collins’ Brooklyn Nets’ jersey is a bigger seller than the 4-time champ’s. Paul George and Kyrie Irving both have higher selling jerseys than Tim Duncan and they haven’t even been to an NBA Finals. While the Spurs just rattled off 19 consecutive wins, Michael Carter-Williams’ jersey outsold Tim Duncan’s amid his 76ers’ 26-game losing streak. If that isn’t the definition of absurd, I’m not really sure what is.
2014 is no different. Once again, the Spurs are currently not just the best team in the West, but the entire NBA, standing at 59-17. The only thing anyone can talk about is if Kevin Durant will finally win an MVP over LeBron James. What the heck do these guys have to do to get some notoriety? Even if there is a rematch in the 2014 NBA Finals and even if the Spurs sweep the Miami Heat to win their fifth NBA Championship in less than 20 years, more people will talk about how LeBron failed to win a title more than about how dominating a season the Spurs put forth. And quite frankly, it’s sickening.
Wow. I haven’t gotten that worked up in awhile, folks. I need to go cool off. Until next time, enjoy your first full Sunday of MLB action!
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