SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — It took almost four years but the San Antonio Spurs ended a run that they actually helped start way back in 1999. The Los Angeles Lakers were defeated at the Great Western Forum by a team that had a bunch of old heads… SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — It took almost four years but the San Antonio Spurs ended a run that they actually helped start way back in 1999. The Los Angeles Lakers were defeated at the Great Western Forum by a team that had a bunch of old heads and unproven players but what the 4-0 sweep did was fuel a team’s desire to be the best. So, for three years the Lakers ran roughshod over everybody and continually trounced the team that set them on the path in the last two-playoff series. But that streak ended last Thursday as the Spurs found a way to not only defeat the three time champs in six games but to do so in such a handed fashion that the win did one thing; it exorcised a demon that the Spurs could never shake. If you talk to people who have had addictions, you will see that they tell you that it is very hard to shake off the craving. For the Spurs, they had become addicted to losing to the Lakers. Two years ago they were ran out of their own building by the Lakers. Last year they were ran out of the playoffs. Something had to give. Something had to be a beak through into the psyche of a team that was fearful of 12 other players from the other team. Thus, the 2002-03 season was the catalyst for a cleansing of their basketball souls. A regular season that has seen this team defeat the champions four straight times yet that was not good enough. As Charles Barkley is fond of saying, “Regular season is just the preseason. Now the real season begins.” It was the playoffs where the Spurs needed to prove themselves and Staples Center had to be the proving grounds for their ascension unto a new plane.
Even after all, of that the Spurs still are not happy. Oh sure they are glad that they finally defeated their true nemesis this season. Sure, they are happy that they stopped something that they helped fuel some four years ago. However, there is still a task to be done; work to be completed. With the Lakers firmly behind them a new challenge has arose from the ashes; the true quest for the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Two teams stand in their way but what seems to have helped them see this challenge as nothing more than a test is the fact that they have dethroned the current king of the NBA and now it is just a matter of taking the thrown away from those who are so unworthy of the honor.
“The Lakers are squarely behind us,” Bruce Bowen said after Saturday’s light practice. “I haven’t been here long enough to understand what this team was going through against them but we have bigger things to worry about now.”
That seemed to be the sentiment of many of the guys who were there for a light work out. The team’s focus was on the winner of the Sacramento/Dallas series that was played later that day. There was a road raveled that some people seemed to have forgotten. It was a road least traveled. A road that was so full of dangers that only the best could survive. The Spurs had a series of demons they had to get rid of before they could even think about the Western Conference Finals. They had to get past the Phoenix Suns before they could handle the Los Angeles Lakers and take care of two teams that gave them match up problems. All of that has come to pass. With the demons safely put in a box and the key has been thrown away.
So now the Spurs look to either Dallas or Sacramento and you can say that once again this team is facing another demon but it seems that the Spurs have the elixir and chants that should pose now wonder how they continue to scrap as a team. No longer is this team afraid of the afflictions that were put upon it during a four-year span. Now this team has what it takes to win games and win them handedly in adversity. Maybe now this team is now ready to be crowned the NBA Champions and they are ready o shoulder the responsibility that the Lakers left them with. It is a responsibility that is seemed acceptable for everyone.
Gregory Moore is the Managing Ed