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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