Boris Diaw's unlikely arc of triumph

'That's what you think'

It must be especially satisfying for Diaw, after all the jabs he's taken since his Phoenix heyday some seven seasons ago, to be flirting with triple-doubles and making such an impact on the biggest stage in the sport.

"I don't think he cares, to be honest with you," Parker said.

Added Bell: "Boris isn't wired the way most NBA narcissists are ... not excluding myself. He doesn't let a whole lot affect him."

Perhaps no one explains it better than Barbosa, who offered: "Everything for Boris was always, 'It's OK.' He never gets mad. It's hard to explain. He's not scared or intimidated. He's just ... Boris."

Which leads us to Nash's favorite Boris story. Or what folks from the Seven Seconds Or Less days refer to as the "That's What You Think" story ... which sounds even better when Nash says it with his attempt at a French accent.

"He kept driving to the hoop, and he'd basically be right on top of the rim and kicking it out to the corner for a 3 instead of just laying it in," Nash said. "I don't know if he didn't want to get fouled and go to the line or if he just didn't want to shoot, but we couldn't take it any more.

"I yelled at him, Raja yelled at him, everyone was yelling at him: 'Borrrrris! Just f------ lay it in. You're right on top of the rim. We need your points, man. Don't you understand? The layup is wide open!'

And he just said: 'That's what you think.'

"You know what? In looking back, maybe he was right. It was infuriating at the time, but when you watch him play, you realize that he sees things other people don't see. Such a smart, smart player."

French Connection

Parker and Diaw rebounded from last June's Finals heartbreak to lead France, international basketball's perennial tease, to the European Championships gold medal they had been chasing for a decade.

For Diaw now, there is just one meaningful target left.

"The only thing missing," Parker said Diaw told him in the aftermath of the Euro breakthrough, "is an NBA championship."

It's only one win away now. Popovich is a year wiser when it comes to getting Diaw's best. Boris has a clearer picture of what it takes to satisfy Pop's sky-high standards. And the advent of what Pop is calling Medium Ball is leading to outbursts such as the one we saw in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals, when Diaw delivered a difference-making 26 points to lift San Antonio to a series-clinching triumph on the road ... while Parker was forced to watch the second half from the bench to nurse a bad left ankle.

Diaw's move into the starting lineup for Game 3 in Miami, meanwhile, has arguably done as much to transform the course of this series as Kawhi Leonard's forceful response to a super quiet first two games in San Antonio.

In Game 4, at his all-around best, Diaw finished with a tidy 8 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists. He's averaging 34.5 minutes per game against the Heat, compared to a mere 25.0 minutes during the regular season, which has allowed him to regularly leave the impression that he's the most versatile frontcourt sidekick we've ever seen parked next to Tim Duncan.

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