Bill Land, 60, has been the San Antonio Spurs' TV voice for nine years. Land, who lived in Tulsa from 1981-98, still hosts the Tulsa-based “EOOC Sportscene” show on Cox Communications. A San Antonio resident, he discussed the Western Conference Finals in a phone interview.
Are you surprised the Thunder are in position to clinch the series Wednesday night?
I'm not surprised. I thought the series would go six or seven games and the Spurs would win. I am a little surprised at people's reactions here. In general, the Spurs were playing so well with the 20-game win streak that people got a little false sense of security when they won the first two games of the series. They thought, “Well, they swept the Jazz, swept the Clippers and this will be the same.” Oklahoma City is an entirely different animal. They're a great team — not just a good team — and they certainly have proved that.
If you turn a play here or there, with the exception of Game 3, all those games could have been turned around. I think that's why it still would be foolish for people to assume “Well, the Thunder won a game in San Antonio, I guess it's over because they don't lose at home.” They (the Thunder) are talented. Their ability to make shots has just been outstanding. If there has been anything that surprised me, it's that the Spurs' bench, which has been a huge strength, hasn't been nearly as deep or productive as I thought it would be.
TNT analyst Charles Barkley says the Spurs may have gotten too old to stay with the younger Thunder. Do you agree?
Not really. I think that the advantage the Thunder has in youth and athleticism is somewhat countered by the Spurs' experience. Maybe the longer the series goes, the tougher it becomes for the Spurs. Rather than knock San Antonio, people aren't giving Oklahoma City enough credit. Durant has said, “We don't want to wait to be a champion.” They've already waited because they went through that process where they scared the heck out of the Lakers a couple of years ago and last year they go to the Western Conference Finals. Winning a game in San Antonio proved they are very capable of taking the next step and winning a title.