The Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs Western Conference Finals is easily the most anticipated series of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. The series doesn't start until Sunday but already anyone who is talking about basketball is being asked about who they think is going to win the series, even guys who just got eliminated by one of those two teams.
Take reigning Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki for example. His team got bounced from the playoffs in the first round against the Thunder so you'd think the last thing he'd want to do is talk about his chief rival and the team that eliminated him from the playoffs. Still, Dirk is talking about the Conference Finals and as ESPN Dallas reports, Der German has some very nice things to say about the Spurs.
"I think San Antonio's going to do it, just because they've got one more home game," he said during Tuesday's appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's "Galloway & Company." "They really came on strong late in the season and they snatched home-court advantage away from OKC. So, I got to think just by that there is a little slight advantage. But honestly, both teams are good enough to win on the opponent's floor, so I would give a slight advantage to San Antonio, but, man, OKC is looking really good."
Dirk didn't stop there. He also praised the work Gregg Popovich does on the sidelines and what R.C. Buford does in the front office. It sounds odd to hear such high praise coming from a guy who for the last ten years or so has been public enemy number one for Spurs fans (actually that's probably been Mark Cuban). It's been weird over the last few days hearing, reading and seeing a lot of "experts" pick the Spurs to win the series and probably the title.
So much for the "Spurs get no respect" narrative, right? Then again, it's kind of hard to pick against them when they haven't lost over a month.
I don't like the Mavs or Jason Terry one darn bit. I will root against them till the end of days.
But as a lover of basketball, I respect Dirk and his multifaceted game a heckuva lot. I think maybe more Spurs fans ought to appreciate (even to the smallest of degrees) some of the respect and class he's shown for the Spurs here and in the past, even if they are the most bitter of rivals. Now, Jason Terry on the other hand...