This NBA season has been full of interesting storylines–the emergence of new powers in the Western Conference such as the Golden State Warriors, the Chicago Bulls surprising many people by getting to the second round, the coaching carousel and more, but a major theme throughout the year was that the San Antonio Spurs were much too beat up and old to make a trek back to the NBA Finals. Yet come the first week of June, that’s exactly where they’ll be competing against the Miami Heat in search for Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich’s fifth title with the franchise.
All this team knows how to do is win. Popovich missed the playoffs just once with the Spurs. It was in his first year at the helm, back in the 1996-97 season. He has only lost in the first round of the playoffs three times. This team is the model of consistency in professional sports, yet are constantly overlooked by flashy superstars and bigger cities. Yet the Spurs always play their game and play it very well. They play team oriented and while they do have a superstar and all-time great in Tim Duncan, have plenty to complement him as well such as Danny Green, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and more. They are also one of the more international teams in the NBA which is probably why many people in the United States find the Spurs boring. But it is that same “boring” style of play, that has made the Spurs to be as successful as they are. They are the best sports franchise in the United States since the millennium, including teams such as the New England Patriots. The Pats missed the playoffs in 2 seasons of the 2000’s. The Spurs haven’t missed the playoffs since I was 7 and have more titles than New England as well.
Mid-way through the NBA season this year I was very convinced the Spurs were going to be the team to represent the Western Conference at the NBA Finals. They lost a close series to the Oklahoma City Thunder last year after being up 2-0 before losing 4 straight. I thought the Spurs from last year had gotten better and the Thunder without James Harden had gotten worse. People kept telling me they didn’t think so. The Spurs had too many injuries. My response was the hurt players will be ready for the playoffs and Popovich knows exactly what he’s doing. San Antonio was 44-12 at one point this season so down the stretch, the Spurs didn’t have all too much to play for other than home court advantage and I think to some extent, the players took it easy.
The Spurs have been dominant in the postseason going 12-2 so far. They are four wins away from another title for Duncan and Popovich. With all the talk about injuries and age on the Spurs, shouldn’t this team be out of the playoffs already? These are older players winning a young man’s game. Yet the Spurs continue to show that age means nothing as long as you play together and rely on one another to make plays. There is a reason the Spurs are where they are now. They are and have always been a great team under Popovich and it should be to the surprise of no one they will look to go 5-0 in the NBA Finals starting next week. Ever since Tim Duncan got there from Wake Forest what seems like ages ago now, this team led by Tim has been nothing but winners and they’ll look to once again, reclaim their throne a couple weeks from now, as NBA Champions.