Thursday night will feature a highly anticipated matchup. Two polar opposites, the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers will compete, each having paved a road to success this season, despite doing so in completely different ways.
The Clippers, having recently become ESPN's golden-team, are known primarily for the entertainment factor—a result of a brilliant mix of dunkers, passers and overall showmen. This isn't to take away from their success, when in fact, the spectacle is just a minor aspect of their game.
In reality, the Clippers are one of the top teams in the league, whose success is as frequent as a Blake Griffin dunk.
Eclipsed by the Clippers—and other NBA team's who share a similar mindset—the Spurs have quietly put together the best record in the NBA, capping off what may be the most successful dynasty in professional sports today.
High-flying alley-oops are a rarity in the Alamo City, where passing and fundamentals are the primary focus. This mindset has given the Spurs an ill-considered trademark as the Association's most boring squad—a label that even a Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker circus-shot cannot shake.
This has allowed the team to fly under the radar, while other—more "exciting" teams—consume the national spotlight.
Few can deny the Spurs' success, and yet, on an annual basis, the team is snubbed in early season contender talks, until they later prove themselves worthy, exerting regular season dominance as they eye a top playoff seed.
This habitual oversight done by most NBA fans and analysts has become a problem, more so than any age or excitement problem, via Hugh Douglas of ESPN.
"Do you know what the biggest problem that the San Antonio Spurs have right now? Nobody cares about the San Antonio Spurs and I think they like it like that...they creep up on people because we don't talk about them. We only talk about the "sexy" teams here, and that's why they're a threat."
The Spurs certainly aren't sexy, when compared to the vicious dunks of Blake Griffin in Los Angeles or LeBron James in Miami, but the style of basketball that they have performed over the last decade is by no means boring.
Predicated on the basis of teamwork, the Spurs aren't flashy, and will always settle for the higher percentage shot over the one that will bring the crowd to its feet. And yet, while this may not appeal to some NBA followers, the majority of true basketball fans will agree that the Spurs' style of play isn't just a roadmap to success.
It's a work of art.
The Lob City spectacle is one as well, but in a different sense. While seemingly impossible plays are frequent with the Los Angeles Clippers, the Spurs current style of play is much less awe-inspring, and yet, captivating in its own sense.
The ball movement and chemistry that has grown over the years is unparalleled by any other team, and their constant will to improve makes them unique even when many consider them bland.
For those like me, however, basketball wasn't built to be played above the rim. It was created with a Spurs-like atmosphere in mind, with easy baskets being the primary goal.
This ideology has become lost over the years, and as athleticism becomes a larger component in today's game, the Spurs' mindset has become drowned, out-shined by the "sexier" play styles.
And yet, despite this dying component to the game of basketball, the Spurs have managed to keep it alive, building a road to success as a result. They allow it to survive when, without them, it could be eradicated completely.
And maybe—just maybe—a 2013 title will give other teams the incentive to follow down a similar path—because as fun as alley-oops are to watch, teamwork and fundamentals are an aspect of the game that true basketball fans will forever find exciting, and the San Antonio Spurs ensure that even in 21st century basketball, this style of play will never die.