The San Antonio Spurs are a much quieter bunch than their NBA Finals opponent, yet they have become an effective empire in the world of basketball. Both teams have their own version of the ‘big three’ concept that the Heat made so famous when they demanded the world’s attention as they assembled it in 2009.
Miami brought together their big three of Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, and of course Lebron James through free agency and huge contracts. The circus that has followed the Miami Heat since has been astonishing. An outsider may think that the Heat are playing in a league of their own, that no one can touch their ‘big three’ or get in their way as they claim yet another championship.
However such a statement would be inaccurate. The real basketball empire is the San Antonio Spurs, quietly they have been more effective at using their ‘big three’ to capture titles than anyone else. This team hasn’t missed the playoffs since it drafted Tim Duncan 16 seasons ago, an absolutely remarkable streak for a team to be on.
How they came to assemble their ‘big three’ is also a striking contrast between them and the Miami Heat. They didn’t go out and spend huge dollars to bring in All-Star free agents, or make a blockbuster trade to get their men. Rather the Spurs took the quiet, traditional approach of adding talent through the draft to bolster their basketball empire.
The ‘big three’ of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli. and Tony Parker have played together since 2002, a run of over a decade, giving them a chemistry that can not be replicated through any other means. Although Duncan already had a ring before the other two arrived, the ‘big three’ has won a total of three championships together, and is shooting for a fourth in this series. That gives them more rings than the attention seeking Heat have combined.
Lebron James has already fallen to the Spurs trio once in his career. Back in 2007, he was swept in the NBA Finals while he was still working his one man show in Cleveland. That was also the last time the Spurs found themselves playing for an NBA title.
James became fed up with his supporting cast in Cleveland shortly after the defeat, and famously decided to take his talents to South Beach. The Spurs ‘big three’ has never felt any impulse to take their talents elsewhere. Combined the three men have played 39 seasons as members of the team, 16 of which belong to their leader Tim Duncan. This team figures to remain together until Duncan decides to retire sometime in the future.
Despite their age, these men have turned back the clocks this year and are playing better than anyone in basketball right now. The quiet empire the Spurs have put together has effectively taken over the basketball world this post season, easily demolishing the competition on their way to the Finals.
If the San Antonio Spurs can effectively take out their opponent and win the NBA Finals this year, it might become a little harder for this basketball empire to remain quiet.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express