He became the strangest mascot in NBA Finals history, probably, but the San Antonio Spurs’ Boris Diaw had everyone cheering for him to hit that triple-double in Game 4. Boris had enough redemption story to propel a million hot sports takes and still leave room for extra pastry.
Diaw’s size and touch have always confounded fans and his also suffers from being a tweener. Doesn’t have the defense of Marc Gasol and doesn’t have the shooting of Dirk Nowitzki, but is a true system player, working great under Mike D’Antoni and now with Gregg Popovich.
Boris always seems to start off so well when he first gets moved. His starting PPG in Phoenix was 13.3 and ended at 8.3 before the trade to Charlotte. Not a huge decline, but for an offense first system, those five points can cost you a game.
In Charlotte he averaged 15.1 PPG, his career high, and ended with a dismal 7.4 on on of the worst squads in memory. He was waived that 2011-12 season and two days later was signed to the Spurs.
And now, the basketball public has not the Boris that they deserve, but the Boris they need. The Boris of heft and sprite. The Boris who put up a 13.1 PER36 this season. The Boris whose extra passes contributed to some of the best looking basketball in years. The Boris who provided one of the best basketball anecdotes ever.
What the basketball public benefits in watching Boris Diaw succeed is similar to Mugsy Bogues. Mugsy was so small in a league dominated by big men. Bogues never won an NBA championship, but contended on those great Charlotte Hornets teams with Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning. Bogues became an everyman for the NBA fan, what he lacked in size he made up for incredible swiftness and used his size to his advantage. Boris appeals to the everyman, he looks more like an average person compared to the Incredible Hulk physique of LeBron James or the Slenderman slight of a Kevin Durant. He did poorly at his job and got fired. He wound up some place better and just now went toe-to-toe with one of the best basketball players to win and came out on top. Boris lives the dream of potential lost and later realized by someone finding out the greatness in him.
Just kidding, Boris is a 250 pound frenchman that can put away desserts and dunks. What’s not to love?