Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

98 redux: The are similarities between the 1998 NBA Finals & this 2nd Heat-Spurs Finals

This appears on

The Heat-Spurs rematch -- a ’97-98 redux
There are some similarities between this year Miami-San Antonio game and one that was played in 1998.
by rick olivares

So it’s the San Antonio Spurs versus the Miami Heat for this year’s NBA championship.

For the back-to-back champion Heat who are in their fourth straight finals appearance, it’s about continuing their own dynasty and accomplishing the Association’s first three-peat since the Lake Show of the new millennium pulled the trick. And this Miami squad doesn’t look like they are slowing down. Not one bit.

For the Spurs, it’s about affirming a long and great run by their Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. They are like the New York Yankees of baseball who won four titles with their Core Four in the 1990s then capped off their stellar run with a fifth World Series title more than a decade later. And for the Spurs, it’s like that too. They won four bridging the 1990s to the 2000s then are looking for their first in seven years. But as the Spurs made no bones about it in their post-Game Six win over Oklahoma City, they are happy they are playing the Heat in the Finals because they have an opportunity to exact some good old fashioned revenge.

But as NBA TV commentators said in their post-match evaluation of the Western Conference Finals, “you have to be careful for what you wish for.”

The last time two NBA teams played each other in consecutive NBA Finals was in 1996-97 and 1997-98 when the defending champion Chicago Bulls battled the Utah Jazz in a pair of epic finals. Everyone of course, knows how both series’ ended – with the Bulls finishing off their second three-peat before being scattered to the four winds.

Incredibly, both that Bulls-Jazz series and this Heat-Spurs finals have some interesting similarities.

In 1997-98, the Bulls were Central Division and Eastern Conference champions. The Jazz were Midwest Division and Western Conference champions.

In 2013-14, the Heat are Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference champions while the Jazz are Southwest Division and Western Conference champions.

In that 1997-98 season, Michael Jordan was dethroned as NBA MVP by Karl Malone.

In this 2013-14 season, Kevin Durant was named league MVP ending LeBron James’ two-year run as the Association’s best player.

In the 1998 season, Chicago had the best one-on-one player in the league in Michael Jordan while Utah had the best power forward in the game in Karl Malone.

In the 2014 season, Miami has the best one-on-one player in James while San Antonio has the game’s best power forward in Tim Duncan.

The 1998 Finals had one of the game’s best coaching minds in Phil Jackson wile in 2014, Greg Popovich is considered one of the best if not the best coaching minds in basketball.

In 1997, the Bulls had homecourt advantage while the following year, the Jazz gained that supposed advantage.

In 2013, the Heat had homecourt advantage while this season, it’s the Spurs’ turn.

In 1998, the Bulls defeated the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Finals.

In 2014, the Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Finals.

In 1998, Chicago had a tattooed player named Dennis Rodman. In 2014, Miami has a tattooed birdman named Chris Andersen. One is called “The Worm” while the other is called “The Birdman.”

On another note, in NBA history, there have been 13 instances where teams played each other in back-to-back finals.

1952 the Minneapolis Lakers def. the New York Knicks 4-3
1953 Minneapolis repeated over New York 4-1

1957 the Boston Celtics defeated the St. Louis Hawks 4-3
1958 the Hawks gained revenge winning 4-2

1960 and 1961 the Celtics and the Hawks played once more but Boston won both 4-3 and 4-1.

In 1962-63, Boston defeated the Los Angeles Lakers back-to-back 4-3 and 4-2. These two teams would play each in the Finals three more times with Boston winning in 1965-66 and from 1968-69. In the 1984 and ’85 Finals, Boston won before the Lakers finally beat their nemesis in the finals the next year.

1972 and 73 the Lakers and the Knicks battled with the former winning 4-1 then the latter repaying them with their own 4-1 victory.

In 1978 and ’79, the Washington Bullets and the Seattle Supersonics battled each other trading victories over the other.

In 1982 and 83, the Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers traded championships over the other.

Then in 1988, the Lakers defeated the Detroit Pistons in seven games. The Pistons gained their revenge with a 4-0 sweep over LA the next year.

The final count: six back-to-back triumphs against six splits. So home court advantage and revenge really don't factor much in the equation.

Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see how this 2014 match up between Miami and San Antonio pans out.


  1. Pre you missed the 1982 and 1983 Finals matchup of the Lakers (82) and the Sixers (83).