Late March, early April is the best time of year for basketball fans. The drama of March Madness bleeds right into the quality of the NBA playoffs. This year the timing is perfect as the NCAA National Championship Game is just five days before the start of the NBA Playoffs. Now, I don’t watch much college basketball for a bevy of reasons but there is no denying the drama of the tournament. I will be checking in this weekend. But, this is a website for pro basketball, so let’s get to that.
On Tuesday, Chris Bosh had his jersey retired during a very cool ceremony in Miami. On Thursday, the San Antonio Spurs retired Manu Ginobili’s #20 jersey, making him the ninth man to have that honor in the Alamo City. Thanks to a work connection of my father’s, I was lucky enough to attend the game with my dad. It was a long, beautiful ceremony (peep the video below this post) that perfectly honored the left-handed legend. I came away with these main thoughts…
1) Unless you are from San Antonio or have spent significant time here, I don’t know if you can understand how important it has been to have a Spanish speaking star playing for the Spurs. His style resonates with fans, but so do his Latin roots. The parts of the ceremony that were done in Spanish were so cool to witness. Even though I only speak a little bit of Spanish, I really enjoyed hearing the responses of people who are fluent and clearly appreciating listening to someone speak their native tongue.
2) At halftime a few of Ginobili’s former national team teammates from Argentina had a short roundtable to discuss the legacy of Ginobili. The entire thing was done in Spanish, as the likes of Luis Scola, Fabricio Oberto, Pepe Sanchez and Pablo Prigioni waxed poetic about Manu’s impact on them and Argentina sporting culture.
3) Each person that spoke about Manu did so with his particular style. The main speakers were Sean Elliott (host), Tony Parker, Oberto, Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan. All of those men had thoughtful, funny and endearing things to say about Manu. The San Antonio Spurs organization pulled out all of the stops for Manu and it was a night that anyone who was in attendance, including yours truly, will never forget.
I posted a new podcast on Wednesday. It is just I flying solo, talking about what the podcast is now going to be and why I want to record it in general. Search “basketball pantheon” on iTunes and subscribe or check it out on your web browser here.
A few weeks ago we talked about the NBA Champions League project I am currently participating in on NBA 2K19. Slowly but surely, games are being played. At this point every team has played at least one group stage game. Since the last time of writing there have been some interesting results. Here is a quick recap of the tournament so far.
The ’08 Celtics, behind Kevin Garnett, easily handle the ’89 Pistons and the ’82 Lakers barely miss a shot, while knocking off the ’83 Sixers.
The ’87 Lakers hold off the ’59 Celtics for a three-point victory. In the second game of this group, the ’05 Spurs dominate the ’98 Bulls in the most surprising result so far. Tim Duncan scored 21 points on 10-12 shooting as Jordan was held to four points in a Bulls loss.
A huge second half from the ’67 Sixers leads to a big win over the ’95 Rockets while the ’72 Lakers win a close battle against the ’11 Mavs.
The ’17 Warriors complete the biggest blowout of the tournament, knocking off the ’53 Lakers, 59-30. Next the ’71 Bucks beat the ’99 Spurs in a defensive struggle.
A pair of double digit wins as the ’77 Blazers take out the ’13 Heat and the ’91 Bulls knock off the ’16 Cavs. MJ and Horace Grant were particularly great for the ’91 Bulls.
In probably the best game of the tournament so far, the ’96 Bulls pulled out a close one against the ’78 Bullets. The Bulls jumped out to a big lead but a 14-0 run from the Bullets made it tight down the stretch. A big three from Steve Kerr in the final minute sealed the deal for Chicago. In the second game the ’09 Lakers came back from down 13 to take a late lead against the ’14 Spurs. But a late Tony Parker surge led the Spurs to a one point win.
So there you have it. Check back next week for our new list, a podcast update and maybe some more NBA Champions League talk. Enjoy the basketball this weekend!