Posts Tagged ‘Miami Heat’

Saluting The Spurs

June 22, 2013

Thursday June 20th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Although I’ve only been through San Antonio, TX maybe two or three times at most in all my travels, I consider myself a loyal fan of the San Antonio Spurs basketball team. I absolutely love their way of doing business, and in this era of showboating maniacs they’re a breath of fresh air.

  They have been perennial winners since they entered the NBA for the 1976-77 season, and have only failed to qualify for the playoffs four times. That’s beyond remarkable, and they do it with a matter of fact business like air that’s the ultimate in professionalism. They do things correctly, at least in my opinion. They don’t gloat or waste time making foolish statements – they just WIN.

   The organization is razor sharp from the top on down, and they make it a point to acquire great players who are also solid people. David Robinson was a quality player, but also not your typical off the court hoodlum. He came from the Naval Academy, and how many NBA teams search for talent there? Is there another basketball player that has ever come from there? Not that I know of.

   Tim Duncan is also a thoroughbred. They realized the center position is crucial for any team to win a championship, and they were able to get two outstanding ones back to back. It’s extremely rare, but the Spurs are an extremely rare organization. They know what they’re doing, and all the other teams know it. They have quietly built themselves if not a dynasty, a reasonable facsimile.

   Their coach Greg Popovich is one of my favorites as well. He took over in 1996, and won four NBA Championships. He’s now the longest tenured coach in not only the NBA but the ‘big four’ major sports. He’s looked at as a guru and one of the all time greats, but he does it very low key.

   His style of coaching is drenched in fundamentals, and Spurs teams are known for showing up ready to play. They don’t rely on flashy playground antics, they play and execute precision team basketball that almost looks like it’s from another era. I love watching them, and I cheer loudly.

   My hometown Milwaukee Bucks used to be a lot like the Spurs. When I was a kid they always made the playoffs, and at one stretch they won seven straight division championships.  But then they’d always run into a monster team in the playoffs and never be able to get over the big hump. It was frustrating at the time, but looking back the Bucks were a great franchise for many years.

   That’s no longer the case, and the Bucks have been mired in mediocrity for so long I lost track. I live in the Chicago area now, and I admit I follow the Bulls. I don’t dislike them, and they have a rich history as well. The ‘90s were amazing with Michael Jordan, but after that they fell off the face of the planet for many years and it’s only lately they’re starting to become winners again.

   The Spurs have done it year in and year out, and I can’t help but cheer for them. Excellence has a formula, and not everyone can achieve it much less maintain it. That goes for anything, not just sports teams. I have always aimed for excellence, but have not come within reach. It’s frustrating on one hand, but on the other it makes me have even greater respect for the few who do attain it.

   I was sad to see the Spurs lose to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals tonight. I’m not even that big of a basketball fan anymore, and a lot has to do with the way the Heat put their team together by buying it. Sure, why shouldn’t they win it all? They did it the easy way. The Spurs played the hand they were dealt, and have shown consistency for a long time. The Heat have now won back to back titles, but let’s see how their legacy matches up with the Spurs. They’re still my favorite.

LeBron Turns Heel

July 12, 2010

Saturday July 10th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

One of the most educational if not fun things I’ve ever done was get involved in the pro wrestling business in my early twenties. I will admit, had I been blessed with even a tenth of one iota of physical ability, I’d have been inside that ring in a New York minute baby.

Instead, I got to be involved both as a ring announcer and TV commentator, and looking back that was a great way to do it. I didn’t have to sacrifice my body and I still got to have the fun of being around the circus. Talk about colorful characters, wrestling is chock full.

Most of my experience was with a bunch of guys based in Milwaukee who used to lose on purpose on television matches for the AWA (American Wrestling Association) which was based in Minneapolis. They had their own federation in the Milwaukee area that had several incarnations over the years, but it was basically the same group of guys renamed.

Eventually, I bought the organization which included a 22 foot former WWF ring and a rattle trap truck to haul it to the venues. I don’t think that truck ever started when I had it, but it went along with the deal so I took it. I ended up having to tow the truck to shows so I could be sure it got there. No ring, no matches. No matches, no money. It’s a no brainer.

I ran shows for about a year, and learned more during that time than just about any other in my entire life. I learned about promotion, how to be in charge, sales, politics between a mixed bag of people and a whole lot more. The main thing was the subtleties of wrestling as an art form, which it really is. It’s poor man’s opera, the storytelling is the main thing.

Each match tells it’s own little story, and there’s a good guy (aka ‘baby face’) and a bad guy (the ‘heel’) who lock it up in the ring and let their story lines play out. Sometimes the bad guy will sneak in and win, but mostly the good guy comes out on top in the end. It’s a beautiful thing to watch when it works well, and I’ve seen examples of it over and over.

The person who comes up with the story lines is said to have ‘the pencil’, and has to put all the story lines together so it all flows well as an evening’s entertainment. It’s not at all easy to do, and I respect those who do it well. It’s hard enough trying to do comedy well.

A wrestling term that describes a heel’s wrestler’s negative reaction from the fans when doing what most consider to be wrong is called ‘heat’ or ‘getting heat’. I immediately had a revelation when I heard LeBron James signed to play in Miami. He infuriated his whole home town, and turned heel in the basketball world. He’s now changed how fans see him.

The funny thing is, what team did he choose? The Miami ‘Heat’. Coincidence? It guess it COULD be, but that caught my attention right away and it made me laugh. This whole big fiasco is just an old pro wrestling story line. The good guy turns bad, and then people pay their money to see him get his mouth shut by some other baby face. It’s all calculated to sell tickets, which is what all this hype is about. LeBron went from baby face to heel to help the NBA sell more tickets. Sorry Cleveland, you’re buying in exactly how they want.