Anyone else miss the good ol' days, when the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs were locked in a bitter struggle for ideological supremacy (and home-court advantage in the playoffs)? When the Lakers and Hornets were laughable, and the thought of a return to form for the Boston Celtics was like something out of science fiction?
Now potential bugbears lurk around every corner for the NBA Finals hopeful, and there's a fresh threat every night of the week (like Portland's Brandon Roy, who single-handedly vanquished the Suns with a 52-point outburst on December 18).
Things used to be so clear-cut. The Suns were the league's equivalent of the Cold War's inventive, high-flying Americans. The Spurs were the Russkies. Plodding. Vexatious. Dangerous. Today, you can't call Tim Duncan and company afterthoughts, exactly -- they've been kicking some major tail of late -- but they're certainly not the main mountain the Suns will have to scale to get out of the Western Conference. That would be the Lakers or Hornets, with Mount Everest (Kevin Garnett's Celtics) looming in Beantown if the Suns get that far.
Still, the Spurs are a malevolent mole hill, and the enmity lingers. If your typical Phoenix sports fan could ask for a win against any one pro team on Christmas Day, wouldn't it be San Antonio? Don't you want to look in your sock and see Tim Duncan's patented pout? Bruce Bowen on his butt? Fancy-pants Frenchie Tony Parker with a bloodied snout?
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We can't even say in print what we like to see happen to Manu Ginobli.
Glad tidings, our ass. We want a little revenge for Christmas, Santa.
See what the fat man brings when the Suns host the Spurs at 12:30 p.m. on Christmas day at US Airways Center. See www.nba.com/suns. TV: ABC 15. Radio: KTAR-AM 620. -- Clay McNear