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NBA PLAYOFFS SAN ANTONIO VS. LAKERS SERIES REPORT /
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This Star System Is a Star Short

May 13, 2003|Buck Harvey | San Antonio Express-News

Tony Parker threw the inbounds pass with 14 seconds left Sunday, and it came with a message.

Kobe Bryant sure read the pass.

Phil Jackson might have read it from his couch.

The pass said: This is why Jason Kidd makes sense.

Parker's game-ending turnover was only part of it. Kidd can make a mistake too.

This message was more about how the Spurs lost, and how they've lost these last few years.

With one star going against two.

Bryant still chafes at sharing, at least according to the upcoming issue of something called DIME Magazine. Bryant is on the cover, and inside he talks about life with Shaquille O'Neal.

To quote Bryant: "It's kind of like, am I ever gonna be able to show people what I really can do?"

Without Shaq, Bryant could show people a lot. He could show he's Tracy McGrady, out in the first round. This way Bryant has won three titles and, after Sunday, has a chance at a fourth. Shaq scored 29 points, Bryant 35 and both took turns seeing which Spur would curse next.

One came with 48 seconds remaining and the score tied. Bryant went to the line for one of 45 Laker free throws -- easily a high against the Spurs this season -- and heard a familiar chant.

M-V-P, M-V-P. Bryant missed the first free throw, stopping the chant in mid-capital letter. But that doesn't stop a lot of people from wondering, as Bryant took over the final quarter, if Duncan deserves his award.

Among the most persistent second-guessers has been Shaq. Last year O'Neal announced Kidd as "the real MVP," and this year Shaq thinks Bryant should have Duncan's trophy.

Everyone has an opinion, including the 126 voters who watched games without wearing uniforms and voted for Duncan. Here's another opinion: If anything, Sunday underlines why Duncan is so honored.

With Duncan on the floor, the Spurs won this game, 89-71. Without him, they lost, 28-6. Duncan looked a lot like Kevin Garnett with assorted Timberspurs around him, and that's a reason Gregg Popovich can feel optimistic about tonight. Odds suggest some Spur is due.

Four years ago David Robinson still had enough left to create a two-star scenario for the Spurs. Sunday, with Robinson scoreless in 14 minutes before fouling out, Snow White was a 7-footer from St. Croix, and she was stuck with a small, seven-man rotation.

"We have one star, that's Tim Duncan," Popovich said afterward. "And there's really not someone else who's going to sustain us game after game after game. So it puts a lot of pressure on our defense and rebounding when Tim's not on the court. We'll just continue to work on that."

Work on that? Or spend $90 million on that?

*

Buck Harvey can be reached at bharvey@express-news.net.

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