- Dick Vitale, College Basketball analyst
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I cannot wait for the NBA Western Conference Finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder vs. the San Antonio Spurs should be an incredible series. I know some fans wanted to see the Lakers in there, but the Thunder took out Los Angeles in impressive fashion, winning in five games.
Why am I so excited about this series? I think everyone knows how much I love college basketball and how passionate I am about sports in general. When I watch the Thunder play, they remind me so much of a college hoop team. They have quickness and explosiveness and I love the play of their dynamic duo, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They put on incredible performances against the veteran Laker team.
Now you have the young, talented Oklahoma City team being tested by the Spurs. San Antonio can really defend and the Spurs play like an old-school college team. They help out on the defensive end, showing terrific communication skills. This is a very tough team on the glass, showing great rebounding skills.
I really love San Antonio's big three. When people talk about the great point guards in the NBA, they seem to forget Tony Parker near the top of the list. He has had a sensational season. Parker can basically do whatever he wants with the basketball, going from point A to point B, moving north to south as well as any player in the league.
If you want someone who can really put points on the board, you go to Manu Ginobili. He is instant offense and his track record in performing in the clutch at this time of year is impressive.
Then there is the natural winner, Tim Duncan. He is a sure-fire champion who has that college winning mentality. Duncan is all about the team, never worrying about his own stats but caring about getting to the winner's circle. He is a lock Hall of Famer.
Duncan doesn't do it with flamboyance, he doesn't have one-liners at press conferences. What he does have is a collection of championship rings and MVP trophies as a winner.
This should be a very competitive series. Something tells me that San Antonio has the edge in a couple of areas. The Spurs have an incredibly deep bench as players like Matt Bonner and Danny Green have stepped up.
The biggest key of all could be on the sidelines.
Gregg Popovich is clearly a future Hall of Famer and his experience on the bench could prove important. When you talk about the greatest coaches in pro sports today, names like Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin come up. You have to include the name Popovich on that list given his incredible accomplishments.
Popovich is a Goliath in coaching and the discipline he had playing at the Air Force Academy has translated to his coaching ability. Popovich has done it in a quiet, effective manner and his players have shown so much respect for him. They come out and play hard every night, performing as an unselfish unit. That is teamwork, my friends.
There is a comparison between the best in the NBA in Popovich, and the best coach in college hoops, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke. The common denominator is their military background, with Popovich from Air Force and Coach K from West Point.
In breaking down this series, the VBDI (Vitale Bald Dome Index) is spinning away. I am going with the Spurs in an incredible seven-game series.
18hPat McManamon and Jeremy Fowler