Originally posted on The Sports Post  |  Last updated 6/5/13

The Spurs are more than just a couple of superstars: they're a team. (Credit) I don’t believe in destiny, but I do believe in symmetry. Sports stories don’t just go away without resolution, especially not in basketball, a league driven by storylines more than any other. Every stolen MVP, every questionable coaching decision, every "WTF?!?!" trade, and every historically relevant debate has been settled on the court, and we’re about to see the ultimate example in this year's NBA Finals. You know where I stand on the Heat. I think they’re a one man team, I think they represent all that’s evil in basketball, and I think they’re one championship away from destroying the game. You also know how I feel about the Spurs. They’re a team in the truest sense, they do things the right way, and they’re one championship away from saving the game. If you’re to believe everything you’ve spent your life being told about the game of basketball, that defense wins championship, that hard work beats talent, that teamwork trumps individuals, that coaching actually matters, that there’s a right way to do things, then the Spurs have to win this series. If you’re to believe everything you’ve spent the past three years being told about the game, that centers are dinosaurs, that star power controls the league, that three-point shooting is the way of the future, that the team with the best player wins, then the Heat have to win this series. If you’ve spent the past three years wondering which side was going to win out, you had to have known this series was coming. Really, there were several points where I thought it was here. I thought for sure that when Chicago played the Heat in 2011, they’d win and prove the point the Spurs have spent the past 14 years trying to make. They didn’t. They just weren’t good enough. The Thunder were too young; the Pacers too one-dimensional. It had to be the Spurs. They're the one team good enough to stand toe-to-toe with Miami and play them without caving into their style. As melodramatic as it sounds, the future of the NBA is on the line here. It’s good vs. evil, the battle for basketball’s soul, and the winner will dictate the next decade of NBA history. Don’t believe me? Consider the following: Indiana just drove Miami to seven games without a top-10 pick on their roster. Had they won, the rest of the league would have accepted that as a viable team building strategy. Smart drafting, with or without a bit of lottery luck, combined with a good trade here or there and one moderately expensive free agent signing can get you to the Finals. To an extent, that’s how San Antonio was built. Tim Duncan was admittedly a gift from the lottery gods, but the rest of their starting five? Danny Green was a Cleveland cast off, Tony Parker went 29th, Kawhi Leonard came in the same trade that gave Indiana George Hill, and Tiago Splitter went 28th out of Brazil. Manu Ginobili’s draft number (57) is higher than Erik Spoelstra’s age (42). The Spurs are smart, and if they win, other teams will believe they can win that way. The Heat aren’t smart. They’re lucky enough to play in a city high on palm trees and loose women and low on taxes and rules. Stick the Heat in Minnesota and we’re not having this conversation. Stick the Spurs in Guantanamo Bay and they’d still have to spend more on rings than Pat Riley does on hair gel. If the Heat win again this year, LeBron and the LeBronettes will be 2 for 3 on trips to the NBA Finals. Like it or not, they’ll be the heavy favorites going into next year as well, a biggy since it’ll be LeBron’s last before hitting free agency. Now, let’s say you’re a team debating which way to build. If you see LeBron making the Finals four times in a row and walking away with two or three rings, doesn’t the “sign three stars and figure the rest out later” method look awfully attractive? Hell yeah it does. If the Heat continue to win, the Clippers will continue to stick a square peg in a round hole with their ridiculous Chris Paul-Blake Griffin experiment, the Knicks will force the unholy abomination of Amarmelo Stoudanthony upon humanity, and teams like the Pacers and Spurs will go extinct faster than you can say Nando De Colo. Offseasons will turn into arms races between teams looking to bring in a second or third star, words like “defense” and “fit” will drop from the basketball lexicon like flies, and we’ll be forced to sit through six months of horrible basketball followed by two more months of horrible basketball, only we’ll be so entranced by the one-on-one battles between the stars that nobody but the diehards will notice. No team is going to try to build the way the Pacers and Spurs do because the stars will have proven it’s impossible to win that way. It’ll be like one giant episode of The Dating Game: rather than finding love (i.e players) the right way, they’ll try to cheat the system by pitching stars on utterly random crap. This is fun for exactly three or four cities and horrible for everyone else. I don’t care how cool the idea of a Kevin Durant-Chris Paul pairing would be: the star system kills real basketball. Watch the Spurs some time (and for most of you, the Finals will be among the first few times). That is real basketball. That is a real team, 12 guys who know how to play together, how to overcome individual weaknesses, and how to beat teams like the Heat by forcing them into games of actual basketball. When you watch the Spurs, you see a lot less of LeBron saying “get out of my way, I’m winning this game” and a lot more of the intangibles I’ve spent this whole column selling. I’m picking the Spurs in 7. I don’t know if it’s going to be right, I don’t even know if it’s smart. I could easily see a scenario in which LeBron runs them off the floor in four games. But I have to believe that everything the Spurs stand for means something. We’ve spent three years waiting for this battle, and if everything I’ve ever been told about basketball is true, the Spurs have to win. By: Sam Quinn Twitter: @Rhinos_Cry_Too

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