How about swingman Manu
Ginobili putting basketball on the map in soccer-mad Argentina or coach Gregg Popovich establishing himself as one of the all-time great championship coaches?
None of that seems to matter.
Despite having won three NBA championships since 1999 and currently playing for a fourth, the Spurs just can't seem to
capture the imagination of
the American public.
The Spurs are in their fourth NBA Finals. Two of their previous three appearances have been some of the least viewed
Finals in NBA history.
And on Thursday, even though it featured the much-anticipated Finals debut of Cleveland Cavaliers Golden Child LeBron James, Game 1 garnered just a 6.3 Nielsen rating, the lowest prime-time rating for a Finals opening game in league history.
And if the Finals opener couldn't beat "So You Think
You Can Dance" in the ratings, I'm sure Game 2 got whacked last night while going head-to-head with the series finale of "The Sopranos."
It's easy to blame the Spurs.
When looking for answers it's hard to ignore that their 2003
Finals against the New Jersey Nets was the lowest rated ever with a 6.5 rating and their 2005 Finals against the Detroit Pistons is in the bottom five with
The only time San Antonio
garnered double-digit ratings was when it played the New York Knicks in the 1999 Finals.
For their part, the Spurs know they are the Rodney Dangerfield of the NBA. They simply no longer care, and have stopped trying to figure out why.
"The fly-under-the-radar question," Duncan said, "it doesn't matter to us. We're not worried about who gets the hype or what gets the hype. We're worried about winning four games."
The Spurs seem to be victims of their own success from doing things the right way.
Duncan is a superstar who doesn't primp and preen or put his personal wants ahead
of the team's.
That has earned him much
respect on the court but has not garnered him much attention off it.
"I am what I am," said Duncan, who despite being a
three-time Finals MVP is rarely seen in national ad campaigns.
"I don't know how else to explain it.
"I've been the same way all
my life, and it is what it is. But
if you've got some endorsements out there that you can throw my way, I'll take them."
Popovich has three NBA
championships, but he's a
no-nonsense guy who doesn't
get caught up in being a diva
like Pat Riley, Phil Jackson or even his mentor, Larry Brown.
"No," Popovich said when asked if it bothered him that he is not recognized as a slick dresser or given a catchy nickname. "I'm not being a wise [guy], no,
I don't care.
"If I don't care, it follows that
I haven't given any time thinking about why it is."
The irony about the lack of
attention the Spurs get is they
really are the ideal franchise we all dream about seeing.
San Antonio wins championships without the associated headaches that usually go along with sustaining that level of
But instead of being a must-see team, the Spurs have been
labeled as boring and a team whose Finals appearances are easy to pass up in favor of a
reality television show or cable series.
"We're not that kind of team," said Ginobili, who earned an
honored status in his native
Argentina usually reserved for soccer stars after bringing home a gold medal from the 2004 Olympics. "We don't have any shining personalities.
"We are kind of the vanilla of the NBA, so probably it doesn't draw much attention. There's nothing wrong with it. I think we all like it. It's a good vanilla. It's not a boring vanilla."
No, vanilla isn't boring, especially when it's already accented by three diamond-encrusted gold rings with a fourth possibly on the way.
"Maybe if we win one more time," Parker said about the Spurs getting the recognition they deserve. "That's what you need, to win championships to get credit."
The Spurs already have done that, but it still hasn't seemed to matter. *
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