On Wednesday, it’ll be a week since the San Antonio Spurs’ season ended at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Spurs are now beginning their transition into the offseason, as they are getting ready for the NBA Draft and some of their own players are getting ready to head to London for the 2012 Olympics.
The Thunder meanwhile are at home preparing to begin game one of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. There’s an interesting question that has been brought up, which team should a Spurs fan root for in the Finals?
I think there are three types of fans out there: the sore loser, the person who wants the Western Conference to remain superior to the Eastern Conference, and the general fan who just plain simply loves the game of basketball.
The sore loser
This is your buddy who is still angry the Thunder defeated the Spurs in six games. This person still, after almost a week, can’t believe James Harden hit critical three pointers in back-to-back games against the Spurs. They can’t believe Derek Fisher’s corpse is still a nuisance even after he got traded from the Los Angeles Lakers, and this person just can’t stand the fact that Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Harden were just too much for the Spurs to handle.
This person is obviously picking the Heat to win in hopes that there’s at least one team out there who can stop the Thunder. Maybe this person is even a former Seattle Sonics fan who felt betrayed by ownership when they took the team out of their hearts a few years ago. This person will be rooting for LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh to win their first ring together after the Heat came up short last season against the Dallas Mavericks.
Keeping the crown out West (SEC Dominance)
One of the most intriguing streaks in College Football is the dominance of the South Eastern Conference (SEC). Since the Texas Longhorns last won the title in 2005, a team from the SEC has now won six consecutive times. This is the way I see the Western Conference in the NBA, they are like the SEC of College Football. Since Michael Jordan retired from the Chicago Bulls in 1998, the West has won the title 10 of the last 13 seasons.
This fan will be rooting for the Thunder to win the title because it’ll be the fourth consecutive title the West will have claimed and it seems fair considering that over the years, the Western Conference has always been more competitive as opposed to the Eastern Conference. Season after season there have been cases were some Western Conference teams finish with records greater than .500 yet they still have to miss the playoffs. In the Eastern Conference on several occasions, teams were given playoff spots even with losing records. It’s only fair that those teams in the West who have a more grueling season deserve to win the title in contrast to the Eastern teams who just coast their way into the playoffs by preying on terrible teams like the Charlotte Bobcats this season. This is the reason this fan is picking the Thunder, they do care that the Spurs lost, but they’re willing to admit the Thunder were the better team and they wish the Thunder luck in their next series.
The person who just loves basketball
I think if you’re the person who just loves good basketball, you’re picking the Thunder. The Thunder have quiet players similar to the Spurs who just show up and get to work. Their key guys were all drafted by the team, as opposed to the Heat who only drafted Wade and held Cleveland and Toronto ransom when they signed James and Bosh. The Thunder are also molded like the Spurs with their General Manager Sam Presti, Durant the superstar who leads by example like Duncan, their own left-handed Ginobili in Harden, a young point guard who can easily take a game over like Parker in Westbrook, a defensive stopper similar to Bruce Bowen and Kawhi Leonard in Thabo Sefolosha, and a high-flying dunker like Matt Bonner in Serge Iabaka. Okay that part about Bonner was a joke. But, both the Thunder and Spurs also represent smaller markets unlike the Heat who come from Miami, where Pitbull is constantly singing about in his songs everyday on the radio.
The Thunder were known as a jump shooting team that only went through their “big three” in a lot of one-on-one formations before the Western Conference Finals. But after game two against the Spurs, the Thunder morphed into an entire team that resembled the Spurs. Assists began to go up and the team began playing defense as one. The Thunder no longer had to rely solely on their “big three” as guys like Sefolosha, Ibaka, and Kendrick Perkins began to step up toward the end of the series.
The Heat are mainly built through James and Wade isolations until Bosh returns to full health. But the Heat aren’t a team to watch for team basketball, that edge goes to the Thunder. This fan is going to love the hype between James and Durant, Wade and Harden, and even Ibaka and Bosh. As long as this fan gets a good, hard fought, competitive finals, he or she will be happy in the end.
So Spurs fans, which fan are you? Do you have your own reasons for picking either the Thunder or Heat?