Before we aimlessly plunge into the bleak and barren landscape of many months without NBA nighttime hoop support, I have a few final thoughts on the 2022 NBA playoffs and finals, starting with a thought about Father’s Day:
- Many have ranked the best players whose father also played in the NBA. The 2022 final confirmed what we all knew: Steph Curry (whose father Dell was a very good player) is the best of this group of sons. There were plenty of father-son combinations in the 2022 finale, as shown in this ABC graphic from Game 6.
- The graphics, and in particular the images of Gary Payton I and II, got me thinking about a related question, perhaps because I’m writing this on Father’s Day: who was the best player among fathers whose sons later played in the NBA? My first thought was that it must be Gary Payton. Nope. ESPN is rated Top 75 NBA Players ever, which helps answer my question. The list includes three players whose sons also played in the NBA – Gary Payton, Dolph Schayes and … Rick Barry. Barry wins with his 38th place in the rankings, just above the Gloves with 42nd. Shayes is ranked 70th. Of course, number two on the NBA Top 75 list has a son whose father hopes he’ll make it to the NBA soon. The son’s name is Brony. Stay with us, and Happy Father’s Day.
- Some who chose the Warriors to beat the Celtics noted that Steve Kerr had far more experience than the outstanding Celtics rookie coach, Ime Udoki. But people don’t often mention an underestimated part of the Warriors’ coaching edge: assistant trainers. As a former assistant coach, I would also like to acknowledge their contribution. Two of the Warriors’ top assistants, Mike Brown and Kenny Atkinson, are themselves former head coaches. Starting this fall, Brown, who has been assigned by Steve Kerr to run the Warriors’ defense, has been heading to Sacramento. Atkinson turned down an offer to travel across the country to train Charlotte, opting to stay with the champions as lead assistant. This is a photo of Kerr, Brown and Atkinson on the Warriors bench together for the last time in the fourth quarter of Game 6 along with The World’s Most Interesting Man. I was wondering where this actor had gone after he stopped directing commercials for Dos Equis beer.
- Along with the comparison in my previous post, I saw several other writers comparing this Warriors team to the 2014 Spurs. These comparisons go beyond the “Big Three” teams that have stayed on the same team for several championships. Curry has also earned some comparisons to The Great Tim Duncan, including from Athletic: “Having won my fourth chip, Curry entered the exclusive club who have won four titles and two regular season MVPs: Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan and LeBron James. Curry becomes the seventh. This is an elite company, as all these players Athletic Top 10 NBA75. A truly elite company.
- Steve Kerr also had a great quote about Curry after Game 6: “I call him short Tim Duncan. He is very similar to Tim. People wouldn’t understand this because Tim was very quiet in public. Steph is more expressive both in the game and in life. But they both share this incredible combination of amazing talent and humility. It’s a rare combination.” From everything I hear, I understand that Curry has another similarity to the Great Duncan. Both are wonderful teammates, which is a wonderful attribute in all aspects of life.
- Before the playoffs started, we did a poll asking which SpursNation team wants to win each conference. Spurs fans overwhelmingly supported the Celtics in the East, so their wish was granted. As for the West, Spurs fans wanted the Suns to be upset by the Mavs, who in turn were beaten by the eventual champions. Only 13% of Spurs fans wanted the Warriors to win in the West. Not surprisingly, SpursNation then favored the Celtics (with Spurs alumni Udoka and Derrick White) in the Finals 76% to 24%, but were smart enough to predict a Warriors win by 52% to 48%. Logic over emotions.
- Unlike most Spurs fans, I was pleased with the result. Before the playoffs, I wrote the following about Warriors: “Besides Kevin Durant’s version of the Death Star Warriors, I’ve always liked the Splash Brothers Warriors. They are also coached by Spurs semi-alum and Pop’s good friend Steve Kerr. Those residual good feelings and the realization that we don’t have many years left to enjoy Steph Curry will make me choose the Warriors over most of their playoff opponents.” If his performance in the finals is any indication, we should have at least a few more years to enjoy Curry before he goes to shooters heaven. I hope so.
Finally, in my tradition, like One Bright Moment at the end of March Madness, I end this season with a list of favorite memories. I hope these favorite memories will keep me (and you) going through the off-season – some from the distant past, some from the recent present.
Michael Cooper in defensive stance
The joker fades
Dejonte Murray steals a bounce pass or steals the ball from his man
Jerry West dribbles hard from the right and reaches for his clutch jumper
The Spurs Beautiful Gaming on the Miami Heat from the floor in the Redemption finals,
Robert Horry noticed in the last minute of the playoff game,
DannyGreen!! extinguish the opponent’s fast break,
Wilt twirls his fingers
Steph Curry runs around the court, using multiple screens, looking for a split second to catch, shoot and make a triple – from a distance!,
DFish lashes out at a guy who is bigger, faster, faster and more talented (even though Tony still dominated him),
Damian Lillard The Lady of Time
The Spurs youth movement players are improving,
Mike Breen Bang-ing,
Luka Doncic creation,
Jacob Poetl, fenced off from the rim,
Jordan Pool is shaking
Magic Johnson I’m running on the middle plate here, wait, no, there,
Patty Mills run to help a teammate to his feet after that teammate has taken an attack,
Rick Barry unscrupulous
Wee french teary,
Steve Kerr presenter,
Dirk step back
Earl the Pearl spin dribbling
Any shooter heats up when crowds join in
Pete’s gun goes behind his back or between his legs,
The great Duncan blocking the shot, controlling the ball and throwing a long ricochet pass,
Dr. Jay dunks
Manu Ginobili competing,
Jimmy Butler scores
LeBron (or Giannis! or Robert Williams) is chasing a seemingly undeniable breakthrough
Popovich teaches another season
And in honor of the NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors—champions who enjoy each other’s company for the last time at the end of the season—are celebrating.
Yes, those are my favorite hoop memories. They will push me through the wilderness of the off-season, but I’m looking forward to the NBA draft and the Spurs improving next year. It’s all from Coach Lee D. Thank you for following us.