The Stanley Cup is coming up. I don’t care. (Sorry hockey fans!) The NBA Finals is arriving. I’m excited. Regardless of what you think about the Spurs and the Pistons having a rematch of their epic battle in 2005, it’s not boring. It’s basketball at it’s fundamental finest. Recognize.
Of course, when you think of NBA Finals memories and all of that good stuff, you would usually think back on the 1990’s or 1980’s. The Bulls/Jazz, the Bulls/Suns, the Rockets finals wins. In the 1980’s, the Lakers/Celtics rivalries, the bad boys of Detroit holding Jordan from the Finals. However, when you think of NBA Finals from the 2000’s, your memory probably starts to sink and think “oh, brother..” because it’s the star age era in basketball. And with that, I shall do you all the honors and countdown my personal favorite NBA Finals of this 2000 decade (of course re-figuring 2006.)
2003: Spurs versus Nets) The Nets were returning to their second consecutive NBA Finals with the group of Jason Kidd, 2-year man Richard Jefferson, and defensive dominator Kenyon Martin. The Spurs were back in the Finals for the fist time since 1999 when they defeated the Knicks. The series started like a chess match. The Spurs took the first game in San Antonio, Nets took the second. The Spurs took the third game, the Nets took the fourth. However after the series was tied 2-2, the Spurs went on to win the next two games to claim the rights to call themselves NBA champions, sending David Robinson a ring as he began his exit from the NBA. It was a great finals. My father and I were high-fiving all the way through the series. And it was the last Finals I was able to watch with him, as he passed away in December of that year.
2005: Spurs versus Pistons) The Spurs entering the Finals again since 2003, and the Pistons entering the Finals again since winning it in 2004. The last two champions of the NBA (as of that time), and they were getting ready to ball it up in a series. Most thought this series was boring. I, however, being a big fan of fundamentally sound basketball begged to differ. The first four games were blowouts. Ginobili controlled the pace in the first two, getting room and being able to enter the paint uncontested. The next two games, the Pistons played the game they played all season long — team oriented basketball with some defense on top. However, with the series tied 2-2, Game 5 was the closest of the series. With the Spurs down 95-93, a man by the name of Big Shot Bob aka Robert Horry inbounded the ball to Manu Ginobili in the corner of the the left side baseline. Ginobili became trapped due to Rasheed Wallace playing helpside defense and bounced it over to Horry on the wing. Horry launched the shot with the feeling that you knew it would go in. The pandemonium as the ball forced the net to swish. He already written the ending as Richard Hamilton couldn’t get a rim rattler to go in after a Detroit timeout. The Pistons won the next game, but the Spurs won in Game 7 in large part to Tim Duncan’s heroics in helping the Spurs win their 3rd NBA title in 6 years.
2006: Mavericks versus Heat) With Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks battling through 7 games with the Spurs, an unsettling 6 games with the hustle-n-flow Suns, on their way to the NBA Finals, it was destiny. The Miami Heat had just come off a series win over the Detroit Pistons in 6 games, and were ready for the Finals with their proven veterans. The Mavericks riding on momentum, took the first two games with ease. However, in convincing fashion, Dwyane Wade led the Heat to win four straight games onto becoming NBA champions. Most would say they hated this series onto the part that Wade took a lot of trips to the free throw line. That he was forceful on the way to the basket, and created contact when going up for a quick layup. Sure, he may have flopped some. But who doesn’t? Wade used every advantage against the Mavericks and willed his team to victory. Dirk Nowitzki of the Mavericks, however, done what you would call a choke in blowing games, missing crucial shots, and otherwise crucial free throws.