There are people who don't consider me an NBA expert these days, but I'm still a big basketball fan with an opinion on the NBA Finals, baby! The San Antonio Spurs vs. the New Jersey Nets should be something special (Game 1: Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC).
Can Jason Kidd lead the Nets to the Promised Land? Remember earlier this season when everyone said the Eastern Conference champion would have no shot in the finals?
Hold on, baby, because you can't tell that to Kidd, shot-blocking wiz Kenyon Martin, ultra-quick Richard Jefferson and company heading into this championship series. Coach Byron Scott's Big Three will be ready for this challenge.
Scott has done a terrific job on the sidelines, getting the Nets to their second straight NBA Finals. He communicates well with his players and they respond to him. The Nets don't have to face Shaq, Kobe and company now, so they have more confidence and feel they have a legitimate shot at winning it all.
San Antonio has taken advantage of its opportunities in the Western Conference. The Spurs knocked off the Lakers and then saw injuries take away Chris Webber and Dirk Nowitzki.
Back-to-back MVP Tim Duncan, the premier all-around player in the game today, doesn't perform in spectacular form. Duncan just gets it done, inside-outside, rebounding, doing it all. He makes solid plays and already has one championship ring.
Can point guard Tony Parker hold his own against Kidd? Parker is getting better and better -- he has improved immeasurably. The Spurs also need solid play from Emanuel Ginobili in the backcourt.
San Antonio has solid role players, with Malik Rose and Steve Kerr coming off the bench to provide a spark in Game 6 against the Mavericks. Stephen Jackson has made a difference at times this postseason. The Spurs also have classy veteran David Robinson to provide size. It would be great to see him go out a champion.
Byron Scott has done a terrific job getting the Nets to their second straight NBA Finals.
In the end, my prediction is that coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurs will win a great series in seven games. It should be a thrilling, exciting series between two competitive and hungry clubs.