Midwest excited by Spurs-Thunder kickoff
By Jerry Beach
Fri, May 25th 2012
The kickoff to the college football season is still three months away. But fans in Big 12 country are getting a taste of the heated Texas-Oklahoma rivalry beginning this weekend, when the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder square off in the NBA's Western Conference Finals.
"It's a hot ticket, everyone's excited," TicketCity CEO Randy Cohen told TicketNews. "It's like the Texas-Oklahoma rivalry."
The best-of-seven series between the top-seeded Spurs and second-seeded Thunder begins Sunday, May 27 in San Antonio and should be a dream matchup for basketball purists and ticket brokers alike.
While chaos reigned in the Eastern Conference — where the second-seeded Miami Heat will meet either the fourth-seeded Boston Celtics or eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers for the right to advance to the NBA Finals — the chalk held in the West as the Spurs and Thunder went a combined 16-1 in winning their first two series.
Led by surefire future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich — the latter of whom is the longest-tenured coach in the league — the Spurs have won four NBA titles since 1999 in decidedly unglamorous fashion. The Thunder franchise is seen by many as the next Spurs thanks to low-key superstar Kevin Durant, who has led the league in scoring in each of the last three years and eschewed a LeBron James-esque free agent spectacle by quietly signing a long-term extension with the Thunder following the 2010 season.
"It's the two classiest organizations, the way they're coached and the culture of the teams — it's like the good guys vs. the Miami big money team," Cohen said, referring to the Heat and its big three of James, fellow free agent signee Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade.
The possible changing of the guard storyline is also a lure to fans, as is the proximity of the two cities. Many believed the Spurs' reign was over last year when top-seeded San Antonio was stunned in the first round by eighth-seeded Memphis while the upstart Thunder advanced to the conference finals, where they fell to the eventual NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. But the Spurs showed they weren't done yet this year by winning 50 games for a record 13th straight season and tying the Chicago Bulls for the best record in the league.
"Oklahoma fans are so excited about it, their first real shot at going to the championship," Cohen said. "And it’s probably the last shot for the old guys from the Spurs. They're hanging on [with] fresh legs. The short season really helped them out."
San Antonio and Oklahoma City are separated by less than 500 miles, which makes for a relatively easy commute for fans hoping to see games in both cities.
"You take an hour-and-a-half flight to go down to San Antonio and the Riverwalk," Cohen said. "It'll be exciting. It's an exciting match. That's the bottom line."
A search of StubHub this afternoon, May 25, revealed 914 tickets available for Sunday's Game One at the AT&T Center, the cheapest of which was a $127 seat in Balcony Corner 213. There were 2,685 tickets available (beginning at $48) for Game Two in San Antonio Tuesday, May 29 and 1,252 tickets (beginning at $95) for Game Three in Oklahoma City Thursday, May 31.