-- San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich and Detroit Pistons Coach Larry Brown both scoffed at the notion that this wasn't an attractive series because it lacked big-name superstars and featured defensive-minded teams.
"I think people that understand the game enjoy whoever they are watching, you know, for a variety of reasons," said Popovich, who is seeking his third championship in seven seasons. "I think that's the way things are. You know, the more tantalizing, the more thrilling and immediate satisfaction sense, the more wild, the more fun people think things are going to be. But if you're just looking for basketball, you can find any team and enjoy something about what they do."
Popovich added that the perception that the Spurs are boring is misguided. "If people think a certain way about our team and it's like we're not sexy and we're not exciting or that sort of thing, I just assume that person doesn't know much about basketball, and I feel badly that they won't enjoy it as much as they could enjoy it if they knew more about the game," he said. "So I think it says more about the person who is indicting than about our team."
Brown, who is looking to lead the Pistons to a repeat, said he hoped that casual fans would be captivated by this series. The teams, not the individual talents, are the focus. "I think it's good for our league. It's about San Antonio playing Detroit, and young kids don't understand that," Brown said. "That's what the game is about, and I would hope that this would be appealing from that aspect."
Before the game, Popovich was asked if he planned to use reserve Glenn Robinson, a late-season pickup who started the season in Philadelphia and has seen limited action in the playoffs. "Sure. You know, people foul out and people get hurt. That's about it," Popovich said before the room filled with laughter. "The guy hasn't played in five months or something . . . we're not just going to throw that guy in there because he's a scorer . . . it's not like I'm going home and beat my head against the wall about how I'm going to get him in the rotation." When forward Bruce Bowen picked up his second foul in the first quarter, Popovich called on Robinson, who had a fast-break dunk and a blocked shot in three minutes.
Going for a Double
Spurs guard Manu Ginobili has a chance to become just the third player in NBA history to win an Olympic gold medal and an NBA title in the same season. The others are Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Ginobili led Argentina to the gold medal during the 2004 Olympic games in Athens and blossomed into an all-star in his third season. Ginobili said his success last summer greatly impacted his improved production this season.
"My confidence, it really helped, because once you feel like you are the Olympic champion and chosen MVP or stuff like that, you start believing even more in yourself, knowing that you've got to be doing something well," said Ginobili, who has increased his scoring from 16 points per game in the regular season to 21.8 in the playoffs. "So, it was like a carryover from Athens."