Spurs showing Heat how to play well with others

Jun. 14, 2014 @ 11:15 PM

So that’s what was going on several years ago in Duke University’s Card Gym.

It was the NBA Development League before there even was an NBA Development League.

Mind you, I, at the time, had been playing basketball for three decades.

Yet I’d never played real basketball until I was in Card Gym with guys like Michael Thompson, Mike Huff, former Duke wide receiver Keith Daniel, the great Scott Stankavage — he quarterbacked both at North Carolina and in the NFL — and his brother, Bruce, who had this nasty jumper.

They were playing a brand of ball that required constant movement, both of ball and body, so you’d better screen somebody after giving up the rock or else get a scolding from Thompson.

That’s the kind of basketball the San Antonio Spurs are playing, up three games to one in the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat.

Without all of the chest pounding, the Spurs are pounding the Heat and doing it in the vein of the NFL’s thrifty Seattle Seahawks, the reigning Super Bowl champs.

The Spurs this season had the best record in the NBA but ranked in the bottom tier among team salaries. It doesn’t mean Spurs general manager R.C. Buford is nickel-and-diming somebody like Kawhi Leonard, whose $1.9 million salary would make him a terrific pitchman for Walmart’s always low prices. What it says is money absolutely can buy a measure of happiness, but the basketball gods can’t be bribed. There is a certain way to play.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — Miami’s Big Three — are among the NBA’s 10 highest-paid players.

Tony Parker is the Spur making the most money. His $12.5 million a year is not in the league’s top 10. Nor top 20. Try bottom 30.

In other words, it’s not about all of the excessive dribbling and players going one-on-one looking for an and-one or one-and-done college guys just there to get theirs.

For that matter, it wasn’t about all of those hockey goons and pulling guards who showed up on NBA floors back during the beloved 1980s when Magic and Michael and Bird and the Bad Boys were getting physical, because basketball inventor James Naismith would tell us that the game was designed for the ball to move and not get stuck in players’ hands. Check the history books, because there has to be something in there about Naismith inventing Hot Potato, too.

Three amigos from Miami are no match for a family of 15 Spurs, and it’s why we’re getting ready to see the coronation of a team instead of a crowning of The King. 

Herald-Sun sports writer John McCann is on Twitter @johntmccann. Email him at jmccann@heraldsun.com