My favorite NBA player – ever – is David Robinson. But not favorite ball player ever; that is Grant Hill. Both nice guys, almost to a fault, but also both killer athletes who could do any and everything on court and often did multiple times a game. But all great careers must end, and 2003 was to be the last time we saw the Admiral on court. Although not the dominant player of the 90’s, he didn’t have to be – he had a young gun named Tim Duncan by his side, as well as some 19 year old point guard from France named something Parker, as well as an Argentinian flyer named Ginobili. In the opposite corner, we had an unquestionable all-time point guard named J.Kidd and his own pogo sticks, Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson and the greatest socks of all time, Kerry Kittles. Believe it or not, the East was the fast team and the West was the slow-it-down fundamentals (maybe you do believe it with Pop coaching), and the clash of styles would make for great games.
Or not. Ugly shooting percentages, only once did a team reach 100 points (Spurs in Game 1), and overall, bad, BAD basketball. This was not what the league wanted, especially after coming off the Lakers three-peat and the second coming of Showtime with Kobe and Shaq. Really, the main drama of the series was the fact that Parker-for-Kidd trade rumors had circulated all year and rumors flying that the Spurs were looking to sign Kidd that summer off-season.
Regardless of the style, it was still the best in the world, and this game showed how far the other countries had come, with the Spurs taking advantage of little known players on the way to the title. It took 6 games, but the Spurs officially began the Tim Duncan era in 2003, beginning their “every other year” winning streak. And how did Mr. Robinson do in his final run through the his neighborhood? 13 points, 17 rebounds, and immortality in Spurs fans’ hearts.
Let’s not forget why we are here though – sneakers. Right after the Shox debut but before Lebron and Kobe, Nike was in a bit of a down time. But they laced Kidd with a perfect guard shoe – bouncy Zoom, fit like a glove, ankle support for days. Introducing the Nike Zoom 2K3. And for the MVP of the Finals, well, a shoe that fit him perfectly, utilizing simple colorways and materials, except for the heel cushioning. The adidas a3 Electrify took the a3 mechanical cushioning to a new level and propelled Timmy D to a ring.
How do I remember all of this? for one, like I said, Robinson was a hero of mine. Two, my first child, a girl, was only a month away from greeting this world. I had NO IDEA what I was in for. And three, I remember clearly, Game 6, Texas summertime weather coming through and a storm knocked my power out. Pregnant wife, June in Texas, and no A/C? We went to my car, started it, and listened to the game while it rained outside. Best Finals EVER.