Monday, May 28, 2012

Forget Olympics, San Antonio is NBA's Dream Team - Orlando Sentinel

Shannon J. Owens, All Access
10:30 p.m. EST, May 28, 2012

America, despite earlier ruminations, you are not getting a 2012 version of the Dream Team starring LeBron James and Kobe Bryant in this year's summer Olympics.

Kobe Bryant isn't the Kobe Bryant we used to know (cue the Gotye track). Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard are nursing knee and back injuries. Dwyane Wade is waiting to see if his body will hold up and if there is an Olympic paycheck that will clear, and Katniss Everdeen, excuse me, LeBron can't carry on the show by himself.

It's better to rid ourselves of any Olympic fantasies now while we still have some good basketball to wrap ourselves in. Because the reality is, we are already watching this year's dream team and its name is the San Antonio Spurs.

Is that a boo I hear?

Or perhaps that word was boring.

Yes, we all know the Silentonio Spurs are not a media favorite and they lack the sparking personalities of a dream team that carry major endorsement deals like Chinese beer â€" ask Shaquille O'Neal about that. There is no 'Spur' Index on ESPN and the most exciting tourist attraction in the city, the River Walk, is just a dirty creek according to life expert Charles Barkley.

But boring? Absolutely not.

As of Sunday night, they're nasty. Janet Jackson circa 1986 nasty.

"I want some nasty," the 63-year-old Gregg Popovich gnarled at his Spurs before they closed out a 101-98 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

The Spurs mercilessly stole a win from the younger, quicker Oklahoma City Thunder, who entered the fourth quarter with a nine-point lead and much of the momentum.

And in true dream team fashion, emphasis on the team, San Antonio's offense was carried by arguably best sixth man in the league of the past decade in Manu Ginobili. With Tony Parker fumbling the ball away in the first half and Tim Duncan unable to get his engine going early, Ginobili fired off a playoff-high 26 points highlighted by a thrilling buzzer-beating three pointer over sixth man of the year James Harden in the first quarter.

The win extended the Spurs win streak to 19 consecutive games and nine playoff games.

Are you still bored?

The Spurs play with precision, focus and unemotional resolve. That reminds me of another former "dream team" dynasty in the 2000s â€" The New England Patriots.

Much like the Patriots' Bill Belichick, the Spurs are spearheaded by a stoic coach who extends a team philosophy with little regard for media attention and the public's praises.

Both teams are led by leaders who will go down in the history books as the greatest ever in Tom Brady and Tim Duncan respectively.

Although, let's hope history doesn't overlook Duncan's name on the list of all-time greats in the midst of the LeBrons, Kobes and eventually, Kevin Durants.

For some odd reason, San Antonio has a way of being overlooked or, even worse, cast aside as boring. But if the Spurs were an NFL team, they'd be showered with attention, praise and endorsements for its stars in Duncan, Parker and Ginobili.

The Patriots, by-the-way, have three Super Bowl trophies. The Spurs have four NBA titles and are in strong contention for a fifth.

I'd love to see Duncan, Parker and Ginobili on this year's Olympic roster as they truly represent the spirit of old-school team basketball. Parker and Ginobili, of course, will be giving team USA a run for its money with their respective counties in France and Argentina.

But for now, I'll settle for an exciting NBA playoff. Follow her on Twitter at @shannonowens. Check out her blog Sentinel Sports Now at

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