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San Antonio Spurs: Time is not on their side. No it isn’t.

Jun 7, 2012, 8:48 AM EDT

Tim Duncan AP

For a stretch of 20 games, 10 of those in the playoffs, no team has played a more pure, more beautiful brand of basketball in recent years than what the San Antonio Spurs did.

It was Hall of Fame talent being selfless — Tony Parker would get in the lane and score or kick to the corner three, Tim Duncan would take whatever the defense gave him, a 18-foot jumper or a jump hook over the left shoulder in the post. Manu Ginobili carved teams up, guys filled their roles, the ball moved in a way that would make Norman Dale from Hoosiers proud.

But in the Western Conference finals, youth was served.

The Spurs didn’t lose because they were old. But the Thunder won because they started playing well enough as a team and because they used they youth and athleticism cut off Parker’s penetration and blow up that beautiful Spurs offense. And there was nothing Gregg Popovich or anyone could do about it.

It’s hard because this year felt like the Spurs last run at it. It felt like the true end of the era.

They may bring everyone back, but that will not be enough anymore. Health alone will not be enough. The Spurs needed everything to go just right to have a shot this season — and they got it. The breaks went their way. Last year it was clear how much they missed Ginobili, this year he was there. Parker was healthy and playing maybe the best ball of his career. Duncan was moving like it was 10 years ago. Young role players like Kawhi Leonard stepped up. Stephen Jackson was nailing threes.

And it wasn’t enough. The obstacle was too big — OKC was making San Antonio work hard for good looks while seemingly getting the shots they wanted at will off things like a beautiful pin-down play.

And the Thunder are not going anywhere for years. Plus there’s the up-and-coming Clippers and other rising young teams in the West.

These Spurs will not admit this was their last best shot, but they did admit after starting this series up 2-0 they could taste ring No. 5. They got close.

But it was not enough. And it may be as close as they ever get again. Tim Duncan has said if he returns it will only be for a couple years (as a Spur, nowhere else). It’s hard to see their core being this healthy, this rested and this good again after the grind of an 82-game season.

The Spurs gave us something special to watch this postseason. They were magical. And hopefully that is how we remember them.

Because time is not on their side if they want to do this again.

  1. spellingcopfather - Jun 7, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    At this very moment the only player i respect on the spurs is S.Jackson the man played with heart the whole game, the other player let me down starting in the 3rd QT. Bonner see ya, Green see ya, Neal work on playing smarter, Blair ish i could give you Tiago’s height, Manu i really wish you could have took over in the 4th, but its over now, Great Season!!!

  2. loungefly74 - Jun 7, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    still in shock they lost 4 in a row….

  3. 20dollardinners - Jun 7, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    If Duncan takes a pay cut they might be able to pick up a good 5 but maybe not.

    Do they start rebuilding now or reload for another run?

  4. daniel10017 - Jun 7, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    The window for the Spurs has closed. They are too old

    • scalfor3 - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:52 PM

      the window for the C’s supposedly closed 2 years ago.

  5. brucster - Jun 7, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    I congratulate the Thunder and wish them success this year…Tim played 41 mins for 25pts and 14 rbs Boris Diaw played 25 mins for 0 pts and 5 rbs…Slpitter and Blair each played a minute a piece. Tim looked very tired at times. What was Pop’s love affair with Diaw. Splitter/Blair would have been more productive than Diaw. Both seem to be in the dog house. Will these two now want to move on to get playing time elsewhere.

  6. cowboys8819 - Jun 7, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    I’m sorry but I cannot root for a team that flops and gets away with murder out there and take cheap shots that don’t get called! Go Celtics/Heat!

    • gpatrick15 - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:22 PM

      Then I guess you can’t root for any of the teams left. OKC isn’t nearly as bad at flopping as San Antonio’s backcourt duo of Parker and Ginobili. The Heat whine for every call, to the detriment of their own team as they even complain to the refs during transition. And each member of their big 3 flops just as much as anyone else. And Paul Pierce does it too. I don’t like flopping either, but the players know the refs will call it in their favor. Harden didn’t really start flopping until he realized how many calls Parker and Manu were getting from it.

      • badintent - Jun 8, 2012 at 1:36 AM

        100% true and I’m a Knick fan.

    • connectionsnlp - Jun 7, 2012 at 2:20 PM

      cowboys8819

      If you want to discuss flopping, look at game 5 and the Spurs…good riddance…

  7. dunkindan - Jun 7, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Spurs what a great run they have had over the last 13 years. they developed through the draft and won championships. its nice to see someone else in the WCF other than SAS, LAL and Dallas.

  8. diablito0402 - Jun 7, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    Cowboys8819, haha are you serious, thw heat, THE HEAT are the flopmasters, they dont call him KING FLOP JAMES for nothing, wow, ive heard it all.

  9. furio2929 - Jun 7, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    Good year you had San Antonio. Although u didn’t advance, we here in south Texas salute you. You guys gave us some exciting moments this season. I’m not going to divulge how I feel about the officiating, but congrats on a great year.

  10. iknowzeroaboutsports - Jun 7, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    Good lord, does anybody proof these articles? “They used they youth” “End of the rea” “athleticism cut off Parker”

  11. jwlemarine - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    Hey San Antonio, remember chanting ,OK sucks OK sucks, after game 1&2?! Yea enjoy watching the finals SA.

  12. furio2929 - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    iknowzeroaboutsports Good catch. Makes u think who wrote dis article.

  13. steelymcbeam6 - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Watching the spurs collapse made me so happy :)

  14. BigBeachBall - Jun 7, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    how many players can say that they started and finished out games in the Western Conference Finals in their rookie season…. kuaii leanard can…. guy is a beast.

  15. ezwriter69 - Jun 7, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    Funny thing, I read this exact same article four years ago… deja vu all over again.

  16. furio2929 - Jun 7, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    There could only be one champion. San Antonio went as far as the Western Finals. Yup .didn’t win but are still champions in the hearts of all spurs fans. Like everything. It all come to an end at some point. Spurs will rebuild and it might take awhile, but we will get our 5 th. the OKC team is a good example. Good luck to the Thunder. Keep it in the West.

  17. coats2m - Jun 7, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    This sentence is so terrible I couldn’t stand to read the rest of the article:

    But the Thunder won because they started playing well enough as a team and because they used they youth and athleticism cut off Parker’s penetration and blow up that beautiful Spurs offense.

    Seriously, this is absolute garbage. If I turned this into my professor he would hand it back in disgust with a big fat F on it…..

  18. 1historian - Jun 7, 2012 at 7:53 PM

    The Spurs are done, and it happened the right way – out on the court, being beaten by their successors. The Thunder beat them, fair and square. Good for them, and the Spurs reign is over.

  19. badintent - Jun 8, 2012 at 1:38 AM

    somewhere, Mark Cuban is sticking needles in his Dave Stern doll ……………………….

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