It was disgusting to watch, the selfishness on display in the first half of last night’s Game Three of the NBA finals. The San Antonio Spurs proved, with their crisp, relentless passing and their refusal to take an open shot when somebody else might have a better one, that you can’t spell team without “me”. These guys don’t care about anything except winning a championship, and they’ll selfishly do anything it takes to get one, even when it means passing the ball to another man if he has a better shot, or (even further along the enlightened self-interest trail), even when it means passing the ball to someone who might be able to set someone else up for a better shot. It’s insanity. How are the Heat supposed to compete with that level of venality and greed? The Spurs aren’t right.
The half was a blizzard of San Antonio scoring. The Spurs hit 75.8 of their shots from the field, the highest ever in half of an NBA final. At one point, their field goal shooting percentage exceeded their free throw shooting percentage, practically unheard of in the annals of the National Basketball Association.
The Heat, playing basketball the good old fashioned way, with fancy, chest-thumping, crowd pleasing dunks and other outrageous feats of athletic derring-do, that were always followed by the Angry Black Man Scowl when executed by one of the Big Three (James, Bosh or Wade), made a run in the third quarter that brought them within seven, after being down over twenty at the half. At one point in the quarter, LeBron showed off his ball-handling skills, dribbling between his legs three or four times before posting up for a swishing jump shot, much to the crowd’s pleasure. He knew they wanted him to shine, to play basketball like he was auditioning for the Harlem Globetrotters, as much or more as they wanted him to win, so he unselfishly gave the crowd what it came for, but only occasionally. I mean, they can’t expect him to look like Meadowlark Lemon the whole night long, can they? His unselfish grandstanding was not enough for the relentless self-centeredness of San Antonio. The Heat still lost, but at least they looked good individually while doing it.
At one point, Chris Bosh of the Heat tried to mimic San Antonio’s selfish play, feeding Chris Anderson underneath the basket for an easy dunk. But afterwards he didn’t just selfishly sprint down the court, refusing to grandstand over one good play like the Spurs do. He stoked the crowd like they wanted, gesturing for them to give him more love like they knew he deserved, all while sporting that Angry Black Man Scowl the Heat fans have come to know and love from all their Big Three stars.
The Angry Black Man Scowl humbly asserts that basketball is about a lot more than basketball. It is about social justice. It is about the chance for the black man to right the wrongs of the ages by his ability to throw, jump and shoot on a basketball court. With the Heat, you know they’re doing this for a higher cause, that this isn’t just about them, when you see the scowl. That neither Kawhi Leonard nor Tim Duncan, the only two black Americans in the Spurs starting lineup, sport the scowl when they slam a dunk in somebody’s face proves that they are selfishly and slavishly devoted only to winning a basketball championship. It’s enough to make you sick.
In fact, the selfishness of the Spurs might very well be traced to the international flavor of their roster. They’ve got guys from everywhere. Tony Parker is French; Manu Ginobili is Argentinian; Tiago Splitter is Brazilian; Marco Belinelli is Italian; Boris Diaw is French, and Patty Mills is Australian. For crying out loud, there’s hardly a good old American anywhere on the team. And there’s not one who does the Angry Black (American) Man’s Scowl for the injustices he and his people have suffered. These Spurs all just want one thing—another ring. And they’ve already got four. Or at least Tim Duncan already has four. The only other guys that were there for the previous championships were Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. But Duncan, Parker and Ginobili are the Spurs’ version of the Big Three. How many rings do they think the Spurs deserve? The Heat have the best player in basketball, one who was late to starting his championship ring collection. Doesn’t LeBron deserve a few more rings than Duncan? His scowl has a very personal tenor to it. His scowl says that this international coalition that is the San Antonio Spurs are denying him what is his birthright as an American heir of enslaved Africans. LeBron James needs another ring, for reparative purposes if nothing else. Who are these bunch of foreigners to get in his way?
The Spurs are so selfish they refuse to perfect their acting skills so that they might better flop around like fishes on the beach whenever an opposing player breathes on them. It’s probably because they don’t want to pay the fines the NBA has threatened for players who pretend to have been fouled. Disgusting. What’s a few thousand dollars for the theatrics a good flop provides? The fans love it. Why must the Spurs be so greedy?
I don’t know if I can stomach watching the rest of this series. San Antonio is so slavishly focused on doing anything it takes to beat a bunch of guys who have more talent than them—of trying to beat a team of good Americans with a bunch of smelly foreigners (two of them French!), that it’s really taking all the fun out of it for me. I don’t want to see good team basketball. I want to see disjointed and disgruntled team basketball overcome by superior individual talent. Isn’t that what NBA basketball is all about? This is still the National Basketball Association, right? The San Antonio Spurs should have their franchise taken away.