Before we drift aimlessly into the bleak and barren landscape of many months without the nightly sustenance of NBA hoops, I have some final thoughts on the 2022 NBA Playoffs and Finals, starting with a Father’s Day thought:
- Many people have ranked the best players whose father also played in the NBA. The 2022 Finals confirmed what we all knew: Steph Curry (whose father Dell was a very good player) is the best of that group of sons. The 2022 Finals had a bunch of father-son combos, as illustrated by this ABC graphic from Game Six.
- The graphic, and in particular the pictures of Gary Payton I and II, got me thinking about a related question, perhaps because I am writing this on Father’s Day: Who was the best player among the fathers whose sons later played in the NBA? My first thought was that it had to be Gary Payton. Nope. ESPN has a ranking of the NBA’s Top 75 players ever which helps answer my question. The list has three players whose sons also played in the NBA — Gary Payton, Dolph Schayes, and … Rick Barry. Barry wins with his 38th place ranking, just above The Glove at 42. Schayes is ranked 70. Of course, number two on the NBA’s Top 75 list has a son whose father hopes may he will it to the NBA soon. The son’s name is Brony. Stay tuned, and Happy Father’s Day.
- Some who picked the Warriors to beat the Celtics pointed out that Steve Kerr had much more experience than the Celtics’ outstanding rookie coach Ime Udoka. But people don’t often mention an underrated part of the Warriors’ coaching advantage: the Warriors’ assistant coaches. As a former assistant coach, I like to highlight their contributions too. The Warriors two lead assistants, Mike Brown and Kenny Atkinson, are former head coaches themselves. Starting in the fall, Brown, who Steve Kerr deputized to run the Warriors defense, is going up the road to Sacramento. Atkinson turned down an offer to go across the country to coach Charlotte, choosing to stay with the champions as lead assistant. This is a photo of Kerr, Brown and Atkinson on the Warriors’ bench together one last time in the fourth quarter of Game Six, along with The Most Interesting Man in the World. I wondered where that actor had gone after he stopped making Dos Equis beer commercials.
- Along with the comparison in my previous post, I have seen several other writers who have compared this Warriors team with the 2014 Spurs. These comparisons go beyond the teams’ Big Threes who stayed with the same team for multiple championships. Curry also earned some comparisons with the Great Tim Duncan, including this from The Athletic: “By winning his fourth ‘chip, Curry entered an 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. That’s elite company, as all of those players are in The Athletic NBA75 top 10.” Elite company indeed.
- Steve Kerr also had this great quote about Curry after Game Six: “I call him the short Tim Duncan. He’s very similar to Tim. People wouldn’t realize it because Tim publicly was very quiet. Steph’s more expressive, both as a player and in his life. But they both share this incredible combination of amazing talent and humility. That’s a rare combination.” From everything I hear, I understand that Curry has another similarity with the Great Duncan. Both are amazing teammates, which is a wonderful attribute to have in all facets of life.
- Before the playoffs began, we ran a poll asking which team SpursNation wanted to win in each conference. Spurs fans overwhelmingly supported the Celtics in the East, so they got their wish. For the West, Spurs fans wanted the Suns, who were upset by the Mavs, who were in turn were thrashed by the eventual champs. Only 13% of Spurs fans wanted the Warriors to win the West. Not surprisingly, SpursNation then favored the Celtics (with Spurs alums Udoka and Derrick White) in the Finals by 76% to 24% but were smart enough to predict the Warriors to win by a 52% to 48% margin. Logic over emotion.
- Unlike most Spurs fans, I was happy with the result. Before the playoffs started, I wrote this about the Warriors: “Other than the Death Star Warriors version which stacked the deck by adding Kevin Durant, I have always enjoyed the Splash Brothers Warriors. They are also coached by Spurs semi-alum and Pop’s good friend Steve Kerr. These residual good feelings, and the recognition that we don’t have many more years left to enjoy Steph Curry, will lead me to choose the Warriors over most of their playoff opponents.” If his Finals performance is any indication, we should have at least a few more years to enjoy Curry before he retires to Shooter heaven. I hope so.
Finally, as is my tradition, like “One Shining Moment” at the end of March Madness, I end this season with a list of Favorite Memories. I hope these Favorite Memories will sustain me (and you) during the off-season — some from the distant past, some from the recent present.
Michael Cooper in a defensive stance,
The Joker diming,
Dejounte Murray stealing a bounce pass or stripping the ball from his man,
Jerry West dribbling hard right and pulling up for a clutch jumper,
The Spurs Beautiful Gaming the Miami Heat off the floor in the Redemption Finals,
Robert Horry spotting up in the last minute of a playoff game,
DannyGreen!! snuffing out an opponent’s fast break,
Steph Curry sprinting around the court, using multiple screens, looking for a split-second opening to catch, shoot and make a three — from distance!,
DFish bellying up on a guy who is bigger faster quicker and more talented (even though Tony still dominated him),
Damian Lillard Dame-timing it,
Spurs youth movement players improving,
Mike Breen BANG-ing,
Luka Doncic creating,
Jacob Poetl walling off the rim,
Jordan Poole jitter-bugging,
Magic Johnson running the middle dishing this way, wait, no, that way,
Patty Mills sprinting over to help a teammate to their feet after that teammate took a charge,
Rick Barry under-handing,
The Oui Frenchman tear-dropping,
Steve Kerr leading,
Earl the Pearl spin-dribbling
Any shooter heating up, with the crowd joining in,
Pistol Pete behind-the-back or between-the-legs passing,
The Great Duncan blocking a shot, controlling the ball, and throwing the long bounce outlet pass,
Andrew Wiggins D’ing up,
Dr. J dunking,
Manu Ginobili competing,
Jimmy Butler filling the box score,
LeBron (or Giannis!, or Robert Williams) chasing down a seemingly uncontested breakaway lay-up,
Popovich teaching for one more season,
And in honor of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors — champions enjoying each other’s company one last time as the season ends — celebrating.
Yep, those are my Favorite Hoops Memories. They will keep me going through the wasteland of the off-season — but looking forward to the NBA draft, and the Spurs improvement next year. That’s it from Coach Lee D. Thank you for following along.