Don’t be sad, San Antonio. At least you got a title (…or four).by Fabian Ardaya on Jun. 22, 2013, under Phoenix Suns
A future Hall of Fame power forward battling for a title, surrounded by his star point guard and a playmaker struggling to find his way.
His team is great but he, like so many others, was denied by the greatest basketball player in the game.
San Antonio losing in seven against LeBron James and the Miami Heat? The same team with greats like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili?
Nope. Try again. The 1992-93’ Phoenix Suns, who stormed through the league with MVP Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson at the point, and “Thunder” Dan Majerle on the wing, only to be stopped by “His Airness” himself, Michael Jordan, in six games.
Like the 2013 Finals 20 years after it, the 1993 Finals too had thrilling finishes, such as a triple overtime Game 3, Michael’s 55 in Game 4, and the closing Game 6. The Suns, just like the Spurs, saw a chance to win the pivotal series only to have it slip through their fingers on a game-changing shot.
So don’t feel bad, San Antonio. We’re here for you. At least you got your four rings. We’re still waiting for ours. The Spurs have been a symbol of excellence for over a decade, consistently winning at least 50 games for every year of the Duncan-Popovich era (except for the lockout season of 98’-99’, where they still led the league with 37 wins). The Suns were relatively new as contenders, with Barkley in his first season in purple and orange, and a new crew of role players such as Danny Ainge.
Jordan was Jordan and, especially in the fourth quarters of Games 6 and 7, LeBron was the LeBron we always wanted him to be. Nobody can do anything about that. That didn’t take away from the greatness of Charles Barkley or Tim Duncan. It just happened, an asterisk on otherwise great careers.
2013 had Parker’s floater to seal Game 1. 1993 had Barkley’s “Save the City” Game 5. 2013 had Ginobili find himself amidst the biggest slump of his career in Game 5. 1993 had a still young Dan Majerle explode for 28 points for a triple-overtime Game 3. 2013 had LeBron break out for a giant Game 7 with 37 points and 12 rebounds. 1993 had MJ explode for 55 points in Game 4. 2013 had Ray Allen’s heave in Game 6. 1993 was sealed by Paxson’s three in Game 6.
The point of difference comes with the aftermaths of these two Finals. Months after the 1993 Finals, Michael Jordan walked away from basketball after his father’s tragic murder. LeBron’s just trying to get to MJ’s elusive three-peat, and writing his legacy. MJ did come back stronger than ever, reeling off three more rings towards the end of the decade. LeBron still faces questions about Chris Bosh’s place with the team, Dwyane Wade’s health, and whether he’ll stay in Miami.
Even on the losing end, the Phoenix Suns were still a relatively young team, and were able to remain contenders for the next couple of seasons before eventually having to rebuild. Nobody knows what will happen to this Spurs team. While Tim Duncan has said that he doesn’t plan to retire, nobody knows how long he will be a productive player. Manu Ginobili is a free agent after a disappointing season. Tony Parker’s health is a concern.
Tim Duncan on whether he plans on retiring: “Not right now.”
— The NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 21, 2013
But San Antonio is San Antonio, and if Greg Popovich is still anything of what many know him to be, the Spurs will be fine. Parker’s still on the roster, and Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard have emerged as potential stars this postseason. They will still be the quiet team in the league, but as long as they’re winning, Popovich won’t care.
But either way, this loss will hang over the Spur’s heads, just as the 1993 Finals still haunts Suns fans and players. Such are the ways of the NBA.