2 worthy MVPs, one scary club

Associated Press
Published June 25, 2005

SAN ANTONIO - In the end, it didn't really matter whether the true MVP of the Finals was Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobili. The big winners were the Spurs.

The confetti had been swept away Friday from the downtown streets where thousands partied into the wee hours of the morning following San Antonio's Game 7 victory over the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals.

What remained was the Spurs' legacy.

For Duncan, it'll be a summer of basking in redemption after he put together his strongest quarter of the Finals, a series-altering 12 minutes that negated an otherwise pedestrian effort for a player of his caliber.

For Ginobili, it'll be a chance to enjoy the latest accomplishment in a career defined by his uncanny knack for winning.

For the rest of the NBA, including the Pistons, it'll be a summer of trying to make the right moves in an effort to elevate to the level the Spurs reached for the third time in seven years.

"We just have to remember this feeling, remember how it feels to lose with somebody celebrating in front of us," Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said. "I'm sure that we'll be back here again."

Duncan won the Finals MVP award over Ginobili by a 6-4 vote, with ballots cast by four beat writers from Detroit and San Antonio, two broadcasters, three national NBA writers and fans who voted online.

The wisdom of that choice was debated in the hours after San Antonio's 81-74 victory, with Ginobili's backers arguing he was the Spurs' best player in Games 1 and 2 and in the fourth quarter of Game 7. Ginobili also was the one who threw the pass to Robert Horry for the winning shot in overtime of Game 5.

Duncan's 12 points and six rebounds in the third quarter of Game 7 put the Spurs in control, a factor that must have weighed heavily in the minds of those voters who cast their ballots late in the fourth quarter of the finale.

"I don't know if it was about the critics. I doubt that he knew anybody was criticizing him, because he's not that kind of guy who's going to be worried about what people say," Ginobili said. "But he always feels so responsible, he's so hard on himself every time that he doesn't play that good. I knew sooner or later he was going to show up, especially down the stretch.

"That shows the character and the type of player he is, so I'm very, very proud to be his teammate."

RATINGS: San Antonio's Game 7 win was the highest-rated of the NBA Finals, though the average for the series was down 29 percent from last year.

ABC got an 11.9 rating with a 22 share for the Spurs' title-clinching win Thursday night. It was the highest-rated show on television for the evening and the second-highest rated clinching game since 2000.

BOGUT DAZZLES: Andrew Bogut's versatility around the basket and ability to run the court impressed the Hawks during a workout session.

The problem is that the Bucks might pick the 7-footer first in the draft before the Hawks can use their No. 2 pick.

"It's nothing we can do about it," Atlanta general manager Billy Knight said. "The good thing is that we've seen four good players. Milwaukee only gets to take one of those guys."

Point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams and forward Marvin Williams worked out earlier in the week for the Hawks.

PORTER DETERMINED: Terry Porter hasn't let his recent firing diminish his hopes of coaching in the NBA.

Porter, fired by the Bucks this week, said he intends to spend another 10 to 15 years in the league.

"This is the career path I've chosen," Porter said. "I do know that I'm going to coach again in this league."

Porter was fired by general manager Larry Harris after two seasons as coach.

WASHINGTON 69, DETROIT 55: Temeka Johnson scored 15 and DeLisha Milton-Jones 13 for the visiting Mystics.

INDIANA 57, MINNESOTA 55: Kelly Miller and Kelly Schumacher scored 10 each for the host Fever.