SAN ANTONIO—San Antonio Spurs All-Star center Tim Duncan told reporters yesterday that he is rooting for the Cleveland Cavaliers to win this year's NBA Finals, stating that a Cavaliers victory is "exactly what the NBA needs right now."
"They're an exciting team, a breath of fresh air, and with the way this year's playoffs have gone, something interesting definitely needs to happen," said Duncan, adding that with the Cavaliers in the Finals people will "finally have a reason to watch [the NBA]." "Since the Western Conference immediately became dull when the Phoenix Suns were eliminated, the league has been gasping for a team that transcends basketball and appeals to the casual fan."
"Quite frankly, if the Cavs win, I really don't know who loses," Duncan added.
According to Duncan, one of the main reasons he wants the Cavaliers to win the championship is so that Cleveland small forward LeBron James has a chance to flourish in the national spotlight.
"LeBron has a certain magnetism a lot of other players don't have," Duncan said. "Not only is he the best player on his team, but he is also charismatic, which is rare. He's the only player I can think of that the league can market on a global scale, but the only way the NBA can do that is if Cleveland wins the title. Fingers crossed that they do."
Though Duncan said it would be optimal for James to hit a game-winning jumper in the closing seconds of Game 7 to win the championship, he stated it would be equally beneficial for the league if James simply dominates from the outset of Game 1, is given the opportunity to show off his tremendous athletic ability, and sends his opponents home early.
"No matter what, an NBA Finals that ends in a Cavaliers victory will be fun to watch," Duncan said. "Much more fun than a bunch of guys with no real personality playing good, fundamental basketball, which is basically the type of thing you can expect from mind-numbing teams like the Pistons and the Jazz."
"Most important," Duncan said, "the league needs a team that inspires kids to get out on the court, run up and down and take the ball to the basket—not a team that dumps it into their big man and lets him do all the work. That's why I didn't root for the Miami Heat last year."
"Go Cavs!" added Duncan, who then put on a LeBron James jersey and a Cavaliers cap.
Duncan isn't the only one in the Spurs organization openly rooting for the Cavaliers. Coach Greg Popovich, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and team owner Peter Holt all agreed that a Cavaliers victory would be an excellent story for the league.
"The NBA has been looking for a premier team since Michael Jordan led the Bulls to six NBA championships," Popovich said. "Truthfully, I couldn't even tell you what teams have won NBA titles since."
In addition to current players and league officials, former players such as Dennis Rodman, Sean Elliot, and David Robinson have come out backing the Cavaliers. Even fans from cities other than Cleveland have voiced their support.
"To be honest, in the past couple of years I have watched more college basketball than the NBA," said San Antonio resident Derek Hill. "But there's something about the Cavaliers that gives me a reason to keep watching them, something that really draws me in. They're really a lot of, you know, what's the word… Fun."