San Antonio Spurs Back in NBA Finals (40162)

Let’s see: a perennial championship contender, check. Four NBA championship rings, check. The ultimate respect from fans outside of the basketball world, well, that’s another story.

The San Antonio Spurs are back in the NBA Finals. This will be the fifth time in franchise history that the Spurs will play for a NBA title. And it’s no coincidence that all five trips have taken place during Tim Duncan’s reign.

All of Duncan and his team’s accolades notwithstanding, gaining respect has not been easy for the franchise. Sure, the rings are nice, but every time the Spurs are in the final, you can hear a collective “oh no, not the Spurs”. The Spurs are far from the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s. They’re not flashy like the Miami Heat or explosive like the Oklahoma City Thunder. They don’t get up and down the court like the Dallas Mavericks did two years ago, and they don’t bring back memories of the NBA’s golden era like the Celtics do.

The Spurs have been categorized as boring. They have been categorized as unappealing with their vanilla style of basketball. It’s nonetheless unfortunate that the Spurs don’t get the respect they deserve.

If San Antonio wins the title, that will mean five rings for Duncan. That’s one more than Shaquille O’Neal, two more than Larry Bird, three more than Wilt Chamberlain, the same amount as Magic Johnson and one less than Michael Jordan. That is an impressive list of all-time greats. Somehow, however, Duncan isn’t always talked about in that fashion.

It’s not so hard to believe after further analysis, though. Small market teams just don’t get the respect or notoriety as the big market clubs. Of the 33 NBA champions since 1980, the only “small market” team to take home a title was the Spurs. The other teams to win titles since 1980-Lakers (10), Bulls (six), Celtics (four), Pistons (three), Rockets (two), Heat (two), 76ers (one) and Mavericks (one)-are all classified as big market teams.

And the big market teams get all the publicity. The Spurs could go a long way in changing that perception if they can knock off the Heat or the Pacers in the final.