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Heat, Spurs drawing comparisons to Michael Jordan’s Bulls

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Updated: July 9, 2014 6:35AM

SAN ANTONIO — The NBA’s walk down memory lane after the Finals expects to take a long stop in Chicago.

Regardless of the outcome of the rematch between the Spurs and Heat, which resumes with Game 2 on Sunday at AT&T Center, the Bulls teams of the 1990s figure to enter the conversation.

The Heat, playing in their fourth consecutive title series, are eyeing their third consecutive championship. Spurs forward Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich are three victories away from winning their fifth title.

“It’s tough chasing ghosts, and we have enough challenges on our plate now,” Heat forward Chris Bosh said. “We’re trying to beat a very good team, and that requires all our attention. [If] we win this series, later on we can sit back, have a beer when we’re older and say, yeah, we can tell you why we’re better and who we’re better than like old guys do now.”

It’s funny that Bosh said that. The Spurs might have something to say about what old guys do.

At 38 and 36, respectively, Spurs forwards Duncan and Manu Ginobili are considered old by NBA standards. Ginobili has the receding hairline to prove it. Yet, they’re playing like they’re in their primes, a unique circumstance to almost any of the championship runs in league history.

In fact, the circumstances of the Spurs’, Heat’s and Bulls’ runs are quite different.

History has judged the dominance of Jordan and the Bulls by how many championships they’ve won. But their dominance is better exemplified by the list of great players — Hall of Fame players — who didn’t win titles.

Karl Malone, John Stockton, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing just start the list. Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler didn’t win until Jordan went to play baseball and never won again when he returned.

The Bulls were a brick wall, blocking every other team during their runs. The Spurs haven’t been that team, and the Heat are proving to be that kind of team.

“You talk about the generations of kids that have grown up watching the Lakers and Celtics, even the Bulls, win championships,” Heat guard Ray Allen said, “I think once this era is over with, then you see what’s the next era we’ll go to. I think that’s what will cement the legacy of the franchise.”

This title series already has set up as one that is era-defining.

The broken air conditioning and LeBron James’ cramps in Game 1 provided great theater and a stage for the Heat to come back.

That’s been their calling card. During the “Big Three” era, the Heat are 5-0 in
Game 2s after losing the series opener.

“That’s why they are two‑time champs,” Spurs guard Tony Parker said. “To win championships, you have to face adversity and come back from any situation, and they’ve proved that over the years. That’s why it’s our job to stay focused, and we know it’s just one game and we know they’re capable to come back and win at our place.”


Twitter: @SethGruen

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