It’s ironic that today we’re talking about how the San Antonio Spurs swept LeBron James 11 years ago when the Spurs are now in the hunt trying to sign him as a free agent.
That 2007 NBA Finals stands out as unique among the championship runs that Spurs fans look back upon. It was dominant the way that the 1999 NBA playoff run was but lacked the big moments of just about every other title year.
Off the top of your head, what would you say you remember about the 2007 NBA Championship? More than anything, you’d probably remember the Phoenix Suns series that included two Suns players leaving the bench and getting suspended after Robert Horry fouled Steve Nash.
But what about the NBA Finals? Three things come to mind:
1. The fact that it was a sweep
Other than that, there wasn’t much to remember. Tim Duncan let Tony Parker take control of the team because the Cavs were doubling down on not letting Duncan beat them and it worked beautifully for the Spurs. Manu Ginobili made a late play for NBA Finals MVP with his Game 4 performance but it wasn’t enough to overshadow Parker’s brilliance throughout the series.
Again, this playoff run was weird. It didn’t have the big Memorial Day Miracle moment or first-time excitement 1999 did. It didn’t have the euphoria of ending the LA Lakers dynasty and winning one last title for David Robinson like 2003 did. And it certainly didn’t have the Robert Horry in Game 5 and then a Game 7 come-from-behind at home like 2005 did.
It was just a fourth title. One that few people look back on with fondness because it was almost too dominant and drama-free compared to the others that came before it and the one that followed.
But that’s the beauty of being a Spurs fan in 2018, so many titles to look back upon that one often gets lost in the shuffle.
I have to mention another moment, though, arguably the biggest one, that happened 11 years ago today: The legendary meeting between Tim Duncan and LeBron James after the series ended.
“This is gonna be your league in a little while but I appreciate you giving us this year.”
Think about that statement. As funny as it was and as joking as it sounds, that’s the best player in the NBA at the time, an all-time great, genuinely acknowledging that the man in front of him will become one of the greatest of all time and will eclipse his own accomplishments as an NBA player, even one with three NBA Finals MVPs, back-to-back NBA MVP awards, and (what was then) four titles.
A few years later, it did become LeBron James’ league. In a way, it still is. Yes, the Golden State Warriors have won back-to-back championships and three in the last four years but after losing to LeBron once, they had to assemble a squad featuring two of the greatest shooters of all time and four of the best 20 players in the NBA just to beat him.
LeBron, while previously the villain in Miami, has become the hero of his own story for many NBA fans. Where will he go next to slay the dragon? Now, 11 years after that conversation with Tim Duncan, San Antonio could be the answer to that question.