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The Big Threes of the Heat and Spurs are opposites in many ways, and yet it is  hard to choose one over the other as the NBA Finals open here on Thursday night.  Tim  Duncan, Manu  Ginobili and Tony  Parker were all born outside the 50 states before being introduced to one  another by Popovich, who drafted them at least a dozen years ago. Popovich won  the rights to Duncan in the 1997 lottery, and — with thanks to R.C. Buford, the  Spurs’ progressive GM — he discovered Ginobili with the No. 57 pick in 1999 and Parker at No. 28  two years later.

Popovich’s way could not have been more different than the plan of Riley, who  saved up his money for 2010 before attracting LeBron  James and Chris  Bosh to join Dwyane  Wade in Miami as free agents. Miami’s coup was viewed as a blight on the  traditional means of team-building,  and yet Popovich was one of two rivals to reach out and praise Riley afterward.

“He put together a team fairly, within the rules, that is a monster — so why  wouldn’t he get credit for that?” recalled Popovich before his team practiced here Wednesday. “Why  wouldn’t you congratulate him for that?” Read more here

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