In an ongoing newsletter series, former NBA champion Chris Bosh is providing thoughts from his playing days and highlighting his experiences against the San Antonio Spurs. Bosh was part of the Miami Heat’s “Big Three” which also featured fellow All-Stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. During two of the team’s consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, they met up with the Spurs. Bosh recently broke down why playing in San Antonio can be rather “difficult” for opposing players.
Chris Bosh comments on San Antonio Spurs’ arena
In a similar fashion to the ESPN docuseries, The Last Dance, Bosh has a newsletter called “The Last Chip” which documents the Heat Big Three’s final championship run. That came about in 2013, with an NBA Finals matchup against Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs.
The Heat were coming off a 2012 Finals win where they defeated an Oklahoma City Thunder team featuring a still developing trio of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden. In the 2013 Finals, Miami would face a tougher opponent in the experienced San Antonio Spurs coached by Gregg Popovich. The series would go the distance too.
Bosh explained that just playing in the Spurs’ home arena provided its share of unique challenges.
“The AT&T Center is next door to a barn,” Bosh said in his newsletter entry.
“Seriously — the SA Rodeo is a half-mile away from where the Spurs play their games. It even shares a parking lot with their practice facility, where we had our shootarounds,” the former Heat star said.
Bosh recalled that being near the rodeo area brought insects to the AT&T Center. So Heat players weren’t just trying to swat away the Spurs’ shots.
“So the minute I knew we were going to be facing them, one of my first thoughts was: That’s a few hours in the bug den. The horseflies from the stables like to migrate onto the court. It’s hard enough to stay focused in the run-up to a game. Imagine trying to do it with insects zipping around you,” the two-time champ recollected.
Bosh Said Spurs Weren’t ‘Dirty’ but ‘Physical’
Part of coach Gregg Popovich’s motivational speeches for the San Antonio Spurs involved telling his guys to give it to the other team “nasty.” With that, Pop was calling for a much more physical style of basketball. It worked quite well too, as Bosh explained how facing all-time great Tim Duncan showcased that aggressive style.
“San Antonio’s not dirty, but they certainly are physical. There’s a reason Tim Duncan made that turnaround hook off the glass for 20 years: he’d gladly put an elbow in your face, throat and chest while doing it. That’s the Pop ethos: give it to ‘em nasty,” Bosh commented.
The Miami Heat would go on to win those 2013 NBA Finals but it took a full seven-game series and a Ray Allen three-pointer that brought Miami seemingly back from the dead. Bosh provided the assist on Allen’s crucial shot which sent Game 6 into overtime, keeping Miami’s title chances alive.
The Heat would go on to win Game 7, 95-88 in the comfort of American Airlines Arena with their home fans in attendance.
That said, it’s clear that Miami had a lot to contend with when playing the Spurs. It may have even caught up with them in 2014, as San Antonio would meet them once again, but this time collected a 4-1 Finals win for Duncan’s fifth championship. There was also the emergence of a young Kawhi Leonard who claimed his first NBA Finals MVP trophy to help the Spurs.
The current Spurs don’t have the services of Kawhi, Tim Duncan, or the conditions at the AT&T Center in San Antonio to assist them. Instead, they’re safely within the NBA bubble. That said, head coach Gregg Popovich remains to provide the motivation they need to give it to opponents “nasty.”
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