Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas


June 15, 2013

Would you rather have the steak or the sizzle?

Corsicana — Would you rather have the steak or the sizzle?  There is absolutely no doubt that the Miami Heat has plenty of sizzle.  I think there is plenty of rib eye there as well, but I think a lot of people overlooked the fact that San Antonio has plenty of “aged” choice beef on the court.

The NBA Championship is far from settled, and Miami may well claim back to back titles. However, Lebron’s prediction of six or seven titles is just that, a prediction. The Spurs have produced. They have three titles already and are working on a fourth. The odd thing about it is that it’s been six years since the last one. How many times have you seen a professional team in any sport rebuild over that period of time around the same core?  Think about it. Six years ago, the Spurs won with the nucleus of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.  This year, San Antonio is aiming for another title with a nucleus of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Those guys were drafted in 1997, 1999 and 2001 respectively. The first of those titles came before Parker was drafted. Some guy named Avery Johnson was the point guard that led them to that initial championship. Analogous to that would have been the Cowboys coming back and winning a Super Bowl in 2011 with the Triplets leading the way.

Did you hear anyone mention the Spurs at the start of this season? All the talk was of Miami, OKC and the Dream Team in LA where they added Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to a Laker team that already had Kobe.

Don’t get me wrong.  Tim Duncan is a shoe-in Hall of Famer. He is one of the greatest players to ever hit the court in the NBA. But, when have you ever heard him argued as the greatest player in league history? Have you ever heard him mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jordan, Lebron James or Kobe Bryant? Those guys are like the steaks you used to get at Hill’s Steak House in Austin.  They were great steaks that came out on a stainless steel plate sitting on a wooden charger, and when they came to the table you could still hear them cooking. Tim Duncan is a filet mignon who is quietly delivered to your table under the subdued lighting of Bob’s Steak and Chop House. He is every bit as good, but without the pomp and circumstance.

Hmmm…what am I missing here? Oh, yeah.  There is the question of coaching. Many people will argue that the greatest coach in modern NBA history (we’ll leave Red Aurbach out of the equation) is Phil Jackson. There is no doubt that Phil and his triangle offense were super. However, let’s not forget that his championships were won, first with Michael Jordan, then on the Left Coast with Kobe and Shaq.  

For my money, the best basketball coach not lighting up a victory cigar is Greg Popovich. I love Pop.  He always looks like Jack Klugman in the Odd Couple. Along with his rumpled look is his rumpled disposition. Don’t you just love it when halftime comes and some cute sideline reporter stops Greg to ask him some inane question? I’m sure the league bigwigs shutter when that comes up on the tube. If they get a lengthier answer than yes or no, it’s something along the lines of “turn overs.” And, he’s off.

If not for Ginobili’s fragile ankles, Pop might have hung a couple more championship banners in the AT&T Center. Popovich is the best I’ve ever seen at defining roles and finding players to fit those roles.  That’s unlike the Heat who brought in the players then said, “find a role for them.”  

Greg Popovich marches to his own drummer. When the Heat came to San Antonio back earlier in the season (their only trip to the Alamo City this regular season), the NBA was eyeing huge TV ratings.  What did Pop do? He sat his trio of stars saying they had played several games in a row and needed a rest.  The NBA fined him, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Pop could have cared less (or is it that he couldn’t have cared less? I always get those confused, but you know what? I could care less unless I couldn’t care less.)

Now, having said all of that, I am pulling for the Heat. Those guys got my step son Cliff a ring last year, and I hope they get him another one this year. In fact, if he decides to keep working for them, I hope he pulls a Bradshaw and tries to get one for the thumb. Remember, sizzle isn’t a bad thing.  When you hear the sizzle the steak can’t be far behind. Just don’t expect Pop to cut it up for you.

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