One reason I'm enjoying the NBA playoffs so much is that I like both teams so much. The San Antonio Spurs have an incredible coach and one of the things I like most about them is their everyday humility--not phony humility but just feet-on-the-ground humility. Also, they seem to be the "Moneyball" team of basketball. Their payroll for the current season is only $63 million, which is only 20% higher than the payroll of the team with the lowest payroll, the Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers, and almost 40% below the payroll of the team with the highest payroll, the Brooklyn Nets. Part of the reason seems to be that they have taken chances on players from other countries who don't seem to have been on the radar of most NBA team recruiters. Maybe call it "Foreignball" or, even better for fans of immigration, "Immigrantball."
The Miami Heat are a different story. Their superstar LeBron James, can't be accused of humility. But given that he is arguably the best NBA player since Michael Jordan, can you really blame him for not being humble? As Dizzy Dean once said, "It's not bragging if you can do it." Moreover, just as with San Antonio, there seems to be a real team spirit there--at least most of the time.
But what so many people seem to forget about these players--and one of the things I love about them--is that they're profoundly human. They are held to impossibly high standards. A friend on Facebook, after the first game, in which LeBron exited with leg cramps, criticized him for not being like Michael Jordan. And, surprise, surprise, sometimes they don't meet those standards.
So I love it when the players and coaches being questioned by reporters show their humanness, their good sense, and their dignity, all at once.
Here are two of my favorite moments.
The first is San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich after a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The whole thing, only 3 minutes long, is worth watching. But if you want to look at the part I have in mind, go to about the 2:25 point. The reporter calls it a miscommunication. Here's what the reporter had in mind. I think Pop is thinking, "I didn't miscommunicate; neither did Timmy. We both communicated perfectly."
The second is from LeBron and Dywane Wade last night and it lasts under 1 minute. It's precious.
Part of what I love is that there are some life lessons here: you won't always be perfect, try to improve, and don't take fools too seriously.