Barkley thinks ‘underrated’ Spurs ’03 team could give Bulls problems
Charles Barkley was never able to get past Michael Jordan’s Bulls teams but he thinks a certain San Antonio Spurs championship team might be able to
As far as NBA Champions go, the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls teams of the 1990s were some of the best. Each one of the 6 championship teams would be able to hang with another title capturing group but the 1997-98 squad, the topic of ‘The Last Dance’ documentary series on ESPN, has captured more attention over the past few weeks. Now the San Antonio Spurs are getting involved in the discussion.
Charles Barkley would know better than most what it takes to get past Jordan’s Bulls. His Phoenix Suns got to see them up close in the 1993 Finals so he knows exactly how hard it is to take down one of the all-time greats.
Sir Charles recently appeared on The Dan Le Batard Show and had a somewhat surprising take on who he would pick to take down the ’98 Bulls. He named the San Antonio Spurs 2003 Championship team featuring Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili as a team to watch when we’re playing ‘Who could beat Jordan’s Bulls?’
San Antonio Spurs 2003 championship team could give Jordan’s Bulls problems
The ’03 Championship team would certainly give the Bulls problems. With an MVP Duncan and Robinson ruling the paint it would be hard for the Bulls to stop the Twin Towers from scoring. On defense, the Spurs would have a hard time wrangling Jordan but with the two stout defenders down low, they’d be able to challenge him at the rim better than most teams.
When we’re looking at which of the Spurs championship teams could’ve beaten the Bulls the ’03 squad is a solid pick. But it’s not who we would’ve gone with. If we’re picking San Antonio Spurs championship teams to take down the Bulls the 2014 Championship team has to get the nod.
Yes, the ’03 group had Duncan in his prime and a younger Tony and Manu, but if we’re being honest the version of The Admiral that that team had was a fraction of the player he once was. He was still a good player but injuries had robbed him of the speed and range that had made him an MVP in ’95. The 2003 team did feature excellent role players like Bruce Bowen and Steve Kerr, but it’s missing one key component.
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The decision to send the 2014 team into the ring to face the Bulls comes down to one player: Kawhi Leonard. During those back to back Finals runs in ’13 and ’14 we saw Kawhi launch himself into the consciousness of NBA fans around the world thanks to his stellar defense on LeBron James. At the time he was known to Spurs fans and more diligent NBA consumers, but his Finals performances and much deserved Finals MVP trophy in 2014 sent him skyrocketing into the ranks of one of the best young players in the league.
Additionally, the 2014 team had a secret weapon. The espresso sipping, red wine drinking, French maestro himself, Boris Diaw. Yes, Boris Diaw would be a real deciding factor in this matchup. Far from being bullied by the physicality of Jordan’s Bulls teams, I think Diaw would thrive. People forget how dominant he was in that 2014 Finals series.
He played the second-most minutes on the team, was second in rebounds per game, led the team in assists, and played solid defense on Chris Bosh and LeBron when necessary. If not for the stellar defense that Kawhi played throughout the series, Diaw would have likely been the Finals MVP.
Boris and Kawhi give the San Antonio Spurs 2014 Championship team the edge over the ’03 squad in my mind. What do you think, Spurs fans? Which of the five Spurs championship teams are you picking to take on the Bulls?