The Not-So-Conventional Wisdom of ESPN

Jason MarquisContributor IApril 6, 2008

First off, this is all my own opinion, so if you hate the Spurs and think that they are overrated, then I suggest not reading this.

I was looking at ESPN earlier today and went to the NBA front page to see what the experts are projecting for this upcoming season. The headline went like this…"Spurs to finish second in the West."

Was it just me or didn't San Antonio just come off a fourth NBA championship season in which the entire world "witnessed" King James arrival onto the NBA's biggest stage, only to be swept by Tim Duncan and a Spurs team that year in and year out is constantly given no respect. And to whom of all people are the defending champs supposed to lose to? THE MAVS… who, might I add, in the past two season's have not only managed to blow a 2-0 Finals lead and lose in six games to the Heat, but also get ousted in the first round of last year's playoff's by a Golden State squad that had barely played .500 ball all season long.

Sure, Dirk is a great player and Avery Johnson a great young coach (when it comes to the regular season), but somebody please tell me why time and time again the Spurs are never given the respect they deserve, even after they have won four titles in the past nine years.

Here's a stat for you. The only other team to do that, the CHICAGO BULLS, won six titles in eight seasons, and was lead by some bald guy named Michael Jordan. Everyone wants to say Lakers this, Shaq or Kobe that, but it's already been proven that one without the other can't win a title on their own. Shaq won his fourth ring, but with the help of a kid named Dwayne Wade whose brilliant Finals performance against the Mavs had glimpses of Jordan written all over it.

Here's something else that might help persuade some of you nonbelievers to rethink who truly is the best. Since the formation of the NBA, only two major stars of an era have not had a teammate who averaged over 20 points per game in the Finals. Bill Russell had basically everyone, Magic had Kareem and Worthy, Bird had McHale and Ainge, Thomas had Laimbeer, Jordan had Pippen, Hakeem had Drexler, and Shaq has had Kobe and Wade.

The only two without, George Mikan who hardly any of you reading this will know who that is, and TIM DUNCAN. Yes, the Spurs have had great role players over the years, starting from Avery, Elliot, David, Manu, Tony, and Horry, but none of them besides Duncan has averaged more than twenty points per game in any of the Spurs four trips to the Finals.

Consider this, the Spurs have been in the NBA Finals four times and have won on each occasion. Only two other teams in recent history have had a perfect record in Finals play. The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat. The Bulls who won six titles and the Heat who just won their first two years ago.

What I'm about to say might shock every fan out there, but here I go. Tim Duncan is by far the greatest and most dominant player in the NBA since Michael Jordan. Everyone wants to say Kobe or Shaq, but look at what Duncan has accomplished. Back-to-back regular season MVP awards, four NBA Titles, three Finals MVP's, a selection to the NBA's All First-Team offensive and defensive player in each of his ten seasons in the league, a feat that not even Jordan accomplished.

And if it weren't for Derek Fischer's miracle shot in '04 or Manu Ginobli's mental lapse when he fouled Dirk in '06, the Spurs could have been celebrating a fifth straight championship this past June. Duncan would have had six rings by now, which would have tied Michael and he still has at least four more years to add to his collection. Before it's all said and done, Duncan will at least have tied Jordan for championships and Parker will have established himself as the best point guard in the entire NBA.

But somehow conventional wisdom would like to believe that Dallas will beat San Antonio this year. The only reason everyone is so turned off by the Spurs is because they supposedly lack "flair" and excitement. I'm sorry, but if you're not able to get excited by the controlled chaos that is Manu Ginobli or by the lightning quick Tony Parker, then you obviously aren't a fan of the game.

It's ok though, because conventional wisdom says otherwise. But don't be surprised come next June when you flip on the TV and see a guy by the name of Tim Duncan steadily marching towards another ring, then maybe you'll start listening to common sense.