AL HAMNIK: Popovich, 'boring' Spurs on verge of fifth NBA championship

2013-06-17T19:30:00Z 2013-06-22T22:51:07Z AL HAMNIK: Popovich, 'boring' Spurs on verge of fifth NBA championshipAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
June 17, 2013 7:30 pm  • 

We're a spoiled society.

Professional sports fans want flash, sparkle, and exhilaration as a release from their mundane lives. And they want it yesterday.

They want their games played at break-neck speed.

Coffee is for losers. They want the beer flowing and graffiti covering the streets.

They rub their eyes in disbelief, adjust the volume on the 71-inch TV and hope LeBron James wasn't pulling their leg when he boldly declared: "Not 1, not 2, not 3-4-5-6-7 (NBA championships)."

They love infallibility in their superstars.

The oh-so-fundamental San Antonio Spurs may have something to say about that. They lead these NBA Finals 3-2 and a win either tonight or Thursday will mark the fifth title for coach Gregg Popovich, a Merrillville grad.

They're not loaded with superstars like Miami Heat's Big Three of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The Spurs are not Kevin Durant's explosive Oklahoma City Thunder. ABC was hoping for that Finals rematch, as was NBA Commissioner David Stern.

Instead, we've been treated to some very entertaining and record-setting basketball as the favored Heat find their backs against the wall.

If not for "King" James and his court, national TV ratings for The Finals would be even lower than they are.

"We're the most boring team in the league. We're not funny. We're not sexy. We just sit there (and win)," Popovich told me earlier this season.

The Spurs are a small market team in a city where The Alamo and River Walk are the only other tourist "attractions." They have nine foreign-born players on their roster, a trend Popovich began years ago and teams have since copied.

Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker have a lot of mileage but a young supporting cast of bombs-away Danny Green and Gary Neal, along with Patty Mills, Kawhi Leonard, Cory Joseph, Tiago Splitter and veterans Matt Bonner and Boris Diaw have given San Antonio a second wind, a "new" look.

Popovich still preaches sticky team defense but has quickened the pace with solid depth and shooters galore.

Boring? I think not.

"If anybody is crazy in the group, it's me," Pop said. "Our guys play with great heart, desire, and pretty much have an even keel win or lose."

Neither team has won back-to-back games this series, so the next two in Miami should pump up the ratings anywhere zombies aren't watching.

As of Monday, the online resale site StubHub showed about 3,000 tickets available for purchase on the secondary markets for tonight's Game 6.

Standing-room only prices were bottoming out at $185. The cheapest seat in the lower bowl of American Airlines Arena was going for $475.

For courtside seats, the average price for what was available was about $23,000 — apiece.

Boring was never so expensive.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

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