|Finally for Finley: Spurs' swingman reaches NBA finals at last|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 06 June 2007 13:39|
Answering a question about LeBron James, Finley said the Cavaliers superstar had done a lot for the ``state of Cleveland.''
``Excuse me, the city of Cleveland,'' Finley said. ``I'm a little excited, too.''
Given that it took the Spurs guard 12 years to get here, that excitement is certainly understood.
On a team loaded with NBA finals veterans, Finley is playing for his first championship. And since he grew up a Bulls fan watching Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen win six titles, he never imagined it would take this long.
ter 12 years I'm finally here.''
Finley spent most of his career in Dallas, teaming with Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash to turn a team that for years was one of the NBA's biggest losers into one of the top teams in the powerful Western Conference. But the Mavericks couldn't get past the Spurs, who signed Finley after Dallas waived him in a cost-cutting move following the 2004-05 season.
To make matters worse, Dallas reached the finals in the year after Finley left - beating the Spurs along the way.
``From a competitive standpoint, I was a little bit jealous,'' Finley said, ``being that I felt that I was an integral part of that team building and becoming a championship-caliber team. And then not to get a chance to play in the game, it was a little hurt, but at the same time it was something that motivated me coming into this season.''
But Finley, who moved into San Antonio's starting lineup late in the season and has averaged 13.1 points in the playoffs, never gave up hope that he would finally get his chance.
``I knew my time would come,'' he said. ``I thought it would be in Dallas. But I've always had a feeling that my time would come, and better late than never.''
CAVS GETTING DUCKS IN A ROW: Just call him Drew ``Ducky'' Gooden.
The lone patch of hair the Cavaliers' Gooden sports at the base of his neck is apparently called a ``duck tail'' and is the result of an early season dare.
``Everybody started bringing back these mohawks and all these 80s hairstyles,'' Gooden said. ``That's my contribution to the retro comeback.''
And it could be around for a while.
``At the beginning of the year ... I didn't think I was going to do it,'' Gooden said. ``I proved them wrong. I went longer in the season, now I'm in the postseason with it and who knows, if we win the whole thing I might continue to have it.''
Gooden's patch may be the start of a yet another superstition for the Cavs forward. When he caught his roommate and his little brother playing a video game with the Spurs matched against the Cavs recently, he told them to turn it off.
``I didn't want them to jinx the series,'' he said, noting that his team was losing early in the first quarter of the virtual game.
TREATS FOR THE TEAMS: Far from home and in hostile territory, the Cleveland Cavaliers were receptive to the down-home motherly warmth brought to them in the form of cookies from Marjorie Johnson, a blue-ribbon baker who appears on NBC's ``The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.''
Johnson made the rounds Wednesday, camera crew in tow, at practices for both the Cavs and their opponent, the San Antonio Spurs, offering sugary goodness out of a shiny red tin to any and every player who was interested.
At least one Cavalier - name withheld to protect him from coach Mike Brown - could be seen crunching away right on the court.
And when the Spurs' 6-foot-6 Manu Ginobili politely refused her offer, Johnson, who couldn't be much more than 4 feet tall and was decked out all in red, persisted, urging him to take one for later.
LET'S GO TO THE VIDEO: Bad news for ``Video Game James.'' A video game said he will come up short in the NBA finals.
The San Antonio Spurs won their fourth NBA title by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games in an EA Sports NBA Live 07 simulation. Tim Duncan was the finals MVP, just as he was in their previous three triumphs.
LeBron James, whose earned his nickname from teammate Drew Gooden after scoring 29 of Cleveland's final 30 points in a sensational one-man performance in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, had some dominant moments in the series.
He had 36 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in Cleveland's Game 3 victory, then had 30 points, 11 assists and nine boards as the Cavs stayed alive with a 93-91 victory in Game 5 when Robert Horry missed a potential series-winning shot at the buzzer.
But James managed just 19 points on 6-of-22 shooting in the Spurs' 102-89 romp in Game 4, and the Spurs wrapped it up in Game 6 behind 26 points and 11 rebounds from Duncan in a 96-89 victory.
The good news for James? The video game simulation was wrong last year, giving Dallas a seven-game victory over Miami. The Heat won the real series in six games.
BOOBIE PRIZES: Daniel Gibson's emergence in the Eastern Conference finals has given the Cleveland Cavaliers another weapon alongside LeBron James.
Not to mention more merchandise for Cleveland fans to buy.
Adidas has created a ``Shoot Boobie Shoot'' T-shirt, playing off Gibson's nickname. Dick's Sporting Goods and JC Penny are among the retailers that have rushed to order Gibson's No. 1 jersey after not carrying any of his product all season.
Then again, Gibson wasn't exactly well-known nationally before last week. A rookie second-round draft pick, Gibson averaged only 4.6 points while playing in 60 games during the regular season.
But the Cavs needed outside shooting to open things up for James, and Gibson made the most of his chances, scoring 21 points in a Game 4 victory that evened the conference finals with Detroit, then a career-best 31 in the Game 6 clincher.
``He played well. He's going to play with a lot of confidence,'' Spurs guard Tony Parker said. ``He had a great Game 6. He got 31 points at that performance, so we have to be ready for him. He hit some big shots, he's fearless, so it's going to be a good challenge for me, and I'll be ready.''