SAN ANTONIO, Texas If the NBA is rooting for hype this June, its last hope is LeBron James. If it wants a compelling storyline built upon revenge, it can pull for Detroit.
But if the league is willing to embrace the idea of something as preposterous as fate, then it has only one obvious choice.
Can anyone really argue anymore that another Spurs championship isn't meant to be?
The Admiral can't. Standing outside the doorway of a happy home locker room at the AT&T Center late Wednesday night, David Robinson slipped on a new "Western Conference Champions" hat and marveled at how this team one that was washed up and left for dead at midseason has assumed the same undeniable written-in-the-stars momentum he felt when the Spurs stormed their way to their first title in 1999.
"It's almost like your destined to do it," Robinson said. "Things just seem to fall into place. That's not an accident. You work your tail off all year long to get to this place, and there's no reason for them to fail. There's been nothing in the trail to say, 'You guys can't win.'"
On the contrary, all the Spurs have seen for the past few weeks is reasons why they can. They received two more early Wednesday evening, when Deron Williams limped into the building and Derek Fisher didn't make it for the first half at all.
To be sure, a healthy Williams wouldn't have made much of a difference. Neither, in all likelihood, would have a faster private jet for Fisher.
Williams' bum foot and Fisher's paternal obligations were assists the Spurs didn't need, and anyone who says their return to the NBA Finals is tainted simply hasn't been paying attention to how dominant they've been.
But Wednesday wasn't the first time this year's Spurs have, in Gregg Popovich's words, "caught a break," and the more it happens, the easier it is to accept Robinson's claims of destiny.
From the trade for Corey Maggette they never made, to the cut on Steve Nash's nose that wouldn't stop bleeding, to the 20 steps Amare Stoudemire took into a suspension, to the stomach and foot of Williams both failing him in the same week, the Spurs have been consistent beneficiaries of good fortune, whether they asked for it or not.
That's one reason why Popovich made a point of noting that "Deron wasn't Deron" on Wednesday night, even though the outcome wouldn't have changed much even if Deron was Magic.
"I just thought that needed to be acknowledged," Popovich said.
What also needs to be acknowledged, though, is how impressively the Spurs have marched through this postseason, willing accomplices or not. Their 12 victories have come by an average of almost 10 points each, and only once (an 88-85 victory over Phoenix in Game 5 of the conference semifinals) did they win by fewer than five.
In the regular season they were forgotten behind Dallas and Phoenix, and in the playoffs the only time they've commanded real attention has been when Kobe Bryant hasn't been making trade demands, or when they're hip-checking former MVPs into the scorer's table or getting lip balm launched onto them by riled-up crowds (by the way, the Spurs might be the first team in NBA history to travel to the Palace at Auburn Hills and feel safer than they did on their last road trip).Now the Spurs will no doubt be the team nobody wants to win, but they don't care. Rooting against fate is pointless. Just ask the Admiral.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Mike Finger is a sports columnist for the San Antonio Express-News
Mike Finger is a sports columnist for the San Antonio Express-News