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Spurs’ run finally over? An annual question

Jun 22, 2013, 6:30 PM EDT


Tim Duncan is 37. Manu Ginobili is 35. Tony Parker, the youngest of the Spurs’ famed trio, is 31. All three have significant mileage from NBA regular seasons, long playoff runs and international play.

Are they over the hill to the point San Antonio’s run finally ended?

It sure seems so, but I also realize the Spurs were a minute away from a championship this season. San Antonio was certainly good enough to win, but so were the Heat, and the breaks went in Miami’s favor. Credit the Heat for coming out ahead, but also realize the Spurs were right there.

Also realize declaring the Spurs dead has become an annual tradition since they won their last championship in 2007.

Fran Blinebury of when the Spurs lost to the Thunder in the 2012 Western Conference Finals:

Forget the back-to-back sweeps of the Jazz and Clippers in the first two rounds. Going out by losing four straight in a reverse sweep and blowing the largest halftime playoff lead in franchise history in the finale says the Spurs might be lucky to slide a razor through that window crack next October.

How many times can Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford beat the bushes to drum up supplementary talent such as Gary Neal or Danny Green or Boris Diaw or Jackson to give Duncan, Ginobili and Parker one more chance? How many times can the big three avoid ankles and elbows and knees that break down before the playoffs even begin?

How do the Spurs replicate the lightning-in-a-bottle good fortune of winning Hall of Famer Duncan in the 1997 Draft lottery that has produced 15 years of stability and elite contender status for the small-market franchise?

On a night when the painful realization of what lies ahead had to run deep, Popovich chose the Novocain of praising OKC for running the table against Dallas, L.A. and San Antonio, the teams that had ruled the Western Conference for the past 13 seasons.

“I think it’s pretty cool for them,” he said.

However, when Parker was asked what went so horribly and suddenly wrong for the Spurs, he shrugged and replied, “It might be too early.”

It might already be too late.

Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk (sorry, boss) when the Spurs lost the Grizzlies in the first round of the 2011 playoffs:

The Spurs as contenders are done. The Grizzlies have put the nails in the top of that coffin. San Antonio may again win 50+ regular season games next season. There may be flashes of the old magic. But we know that they cannot sustain it for seven games against a quality opponent.

It’s over for the Spurs.

Bill Simmons of ESPN when the Spurs lost the Suns in the second round of the 2010 playoffs:

To the Duncan-era Spurs: Four titles, 13 straight 50-win seasons (I’m including the stupid lockout season) and a boatload of fantastic memories. OK, not really. But we got to watch Duncan (the best power forward ever), Ginobili (the best international guard ever if you’re not counting Nash, and you shouldn’t, since Canada isn’t really “international”), Parker (who perfected the celebrity relationship), Popovich (the best coach of the past 15 years), and two really fun rivalries (Spurs-Suns, Spurs-Mavs). Look, you can’t stay on top for more than a decade without getting a top-three lottery pick or having Chris Wallace trade you a top-three lottery pick. That’s just the way this league works. So hold your head up high, Spurs. Fantastic run. When players are bawling in their locker room because they finally beat you (like Nash did after Game 4), you know you accomplished something great. And you did.

John Hollinger of ESPN when the Spurs lost to the Mavericks in the first round of the 2009 playoffs:

End of the season … or end of an era?

It’s not just that four-time champion San Antonio lost a first-round playoff series for the first time this decade Tuesday night. What’s shocking is the manner in which it lost to a team that, let’s face it, wasn’t that good.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this series was the dreadful performance of the Spurs’ roster, other than Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. A decade of drafting 27th will do that to you. San Antonio’s supporting cast was so ineffective Dallas couldn’t guard the Spurs’ best player and it didn’t matter.

Worse yet, two of the Spurs’ three stars had physical problems this season, and one wonders how they will affect the club’s fortunes going forward. Manu Ginobili missed half the season with ankle injuries. While he’s still capable of playing at an extremely high level, he’s no longer somebody you can pencil in for 80 games.

More worrying, perhaps, are Duncan’s knee problems. With 30 points Tuesday, he showed he still can be a capable player even with the injury. The problem is, this isn’t an “injury” so much as a chronic condition, and it’s limiting his ability to be a defensive dominator. He blocked one shot a game over his final 20 contests this season, after averaging well more than two for his career, and his rebounding also has slipped.

This much is clear: Without a major infusion of talent and youth at some point in the next two years, the Spurs’ quasi-dynasty of the past decade will come crashing to an end. We’ve had it in the back of our minds for a while, but this series, and Tuesday night’s game in particular, hammered that point up to the front.

The Associated Press when the Spurs lost to the Lakers in the 2008 Western Conference Finals:

San Antonio’s elimination might signal the end of its era of dominance. With Duncan leading the way, the Spurs won championships in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007, but with a rotation made up solely of 30-something players except for the 26-year-old Parker, the future seems uncertain.

So, as much as I think the Spurs are finished, I won’t declare them dead. They were good enough to win a title this year, and although they fell short, they came much closer in 2013 than those who’d written them off previously ever would have imagined.

Besides, I wouldn’t want someone quoting my foolish words in a blog post about San Antonio’s 2014 NBA title.

  1. dolphindubs - Jun 22, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    They are not going anywhere. As long as Pops and Duncan are together, there will always be a chance.

    • daddyghi - Jun 23, 2013 at 12:13 AM

      agree… seeing how duncan played this series(with the exception of the infamous missed game tying shot).. things will be just fine in san antonio for the next 2 to 3 years…

      • thelastpieceofcheese - Jun 23, 2013 at 10:10 AM

        Even if Duncan had made the shot, Lebron made the winning shot next.

        In addition, Duncan has the most zombie like face in the NBA.

  2. savvybynature - Jun 22, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    Best coach in the league. Arguably best PG in the league. Arguably best big man in the league (Duncan earned All-NBA First Team this season for any doubters out there; he just gets it done on both ends of the court). Budding young star forward in Kawhi Leonard.
    Yeah, they suck
    I wouldn’t be surprised to not only see them back next year, but to see them take care of their unfinished business. If you saw Duncan’s post-game presser after game 7, he wasn’t a guy just happy to be there. Count him out at your own risk, because you would be a fool to do so. The man is a competitor and one of the best ever.
    And the audacity of Kurt Helin to tell Tim Duncan he was no longer good enough to lead his team to contender status! Bwahahaha! Seriously Kurt? Did you ever even play basketball? Did you just become a fan in 2009 or something?

    • hehateme2 - Jun 25, 2013 at 12:31 PM

      They put up a good fight but in the end there can be only 1. HEAT.
      Next year they’re all order and less effective. Some of you need to face facts.

      • savvybynature - Jun 25, 2013 at 11:23 PM

        Besides the fact that parts of your comment literally make no sense, are you saying the Heat are the ONLY contender next season?
        I think you need to face facts and stop with the Lebron/Heat jock rodeo you’ve been starring in.

  3. thundersandpackers - Jun 22, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    The Spurs are like the Patriots in football.

  4. patfic15 - Jun 22, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    Wonder what Stephen Jackson was saying after Game 7.

    • thelastpieceofcheese - Jun 23, 2013 at 10:11 AM

      What about Barkley?

  5. cmehustle - Jun 22, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    What people keep forgetting is Khawi Leonard. I know his name is not up there yet, but has anyone paid attention to him this season?? How did this guy last until the 15th pick?

    • spursareold - Jun 24, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      Teams are stupid. They draft for need, or off of college reputation, when that rarely transfers to the next level.

      Hollinger and Ford both had him top 7.

  6. jzone954 - Jun 22, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    Probably what we all said after game 7……that Steven Jackson wouldn’t of made a difference…..

  7. dgbk - Jun 22, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    Spurs will be back…. Funny how usually the only time they get attention is in articles declaring them dead or discussing their lack of attention. Leonard will get better Parker will get healthier and Duncan will still be around for another two or three seasons and they will add.

    • thelastpieceofcheese - Jun 23, 2013 at 10:15 AM

      Even if all return healthy, they’ll be a year older and you cannot beat father time.

  8. baymac408 - Jun 22, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    Those ol spurs gained my respect as a warrior fan! Especially tony Parker.. He hit a lot of jumpers.. I hope my warriors can establish runs like the spurs have in the future! Great Playoffs this year all together

    • melkipershero - Jun 22, 2013 at 9:27 PM

      The Warriors gained a lot of respect by everyone with their run. As far as trams go I root for the Grizz and now Warriors.

    • loungefly74 - Jun 24, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      wait a sec? BayMac408 was the guy in Miami wearing the Warriors’ jersey yelling at Pop! awesome man, you made it on bunch of highlight shows.

      The Spurs will be back! The old kids still have 1 more year in them as a trio and they have a few young kids with big potential. also, having the best coach and smart management helps out too.

  9. melkipershero - Jun 22, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    I read somewhere the Spurs could carve out enough cap space by renouncing their rights to Manu and Splitter to make a run at D12. I dont think it would be a max deal but would be close. If D12 was smart (which at this point doesnt seem like hes the sharpest tool in the shed) he should take less to play for Pop and with Duncan in a very low key NBA market.


    Thats a scary starting 5 (dare I say favorites to win it all) and you know the Spurs can find talent to round out the rotation.

    All in all I think SA could be a darkhorse in the Dwightmare sweepstakes.

    • daddyghi - Jun 23, 2013 at 12:16 AM

      what in the world are you smoking, man?! i would love to try it

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 23, 2013 at 11:57 AM


      • 00maltliquor - Jun 23, 2013 at 3:41 PM

        Bath salts

    • fredagsedb - Jun 23, 2013 at 6:35 AM

      They are not gonna throw away Ginobili like that. If he wants to come back, they will resign him, But he will take a big pay-cut. But that could leave them in the race anyway. However, don’t know how interested R.C. and Pop are in getting Howard. They know how important team chemistry is, so I have a hard time picturing them going out they’re way to get him. If they have the cap-space I’d anticipate them giving him a call, but they are gonna wait for the whole back and forth in the media.

    • thelastpieceofcheese - Jun 23, 2013 at 10:17 AM

      Spurs have a better chance of bringing the Admiral out of retirement than landing Howard.

    • cmehustle - Jun 23, 2013 at 11:01 AM

      The problem there my friend, why would Howard go somewhere thats looking at a huge turnover in personnel in the next year or two? Why do that? I mean if thats the case why not stay in LA? LA>>>>San Antonio

  10. nycalldayz - Jun 22, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    I don’t think they’re run is over. Let’s be realistic the Spurs blew game 6 in an opportunity to win it all, they had the Heat on the ropes, but poor decisions by Popp and Manui lead to an epic collapse. So no I don’t think the Spurs run is over. For a team with aging veteran they’ve been competitive especially in a difficult conference. Just another typical overraction piece by the media soon we’ll hear the same about the Miami Heat.

    Veteran teams win championships it’s simply true. This notion that veteran teams can’t compete or win is so false. Past 9yrs veteran(Lakers, Pistons, Spurs, Celtics, Mavericks, Heat) teams have won in it all or been the two the NBA Finals 2x.

    • thelastpieceofcheese - Jun 23, 2013 at 10:14 AM

      Spurs didn’t blow game 6 opportunity to win it all, the Heat took it away from them.

  11. bamj6 - Jun 22, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    The Spurs run in terms of NBA Finals are OVER. This was the last hurrah. The playoffs and a series victory will always be there for them for as long as those 3 and Pop are there, but no further anymore

  12. floridascuba1 - Jun 22, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    Spurs didn’t play good enough to think they can last. OKC if healthy is the team in the west. And very young.

    • nycalldayz - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:39 PM

      The salt-water in Florida is melting your brain or whatever is left of it. That is ridiculous comment, but doesn’t surprise assuming your a Miami Heat fan. Clearly if the Spurs won you would not of made such a comment. OKC if healthy would of lost to Miami in 4 or 5 games. They’re very young and that is the problem.

    • spursareold - Jun 24, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      Spurs would have beaten OKC, even with Westbrick healthy. Their defensive efficiency climbed from middle of the pack to #3, and OKC lost Harden, apparently for a late lottery pick.

  13. quickrespond - Jun 22, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    Spurs will be back……they need a new center that is tough, rebound,shoot and good with the pick-and-roll. Let go Blair for Thomas Robinson from the rockets. Let one of the point guards go and get a shooting back up SF

  14. funktron2x - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:54 PM

    I think they have one more run in them as currently composed. The biggest issue will be health of big three. However, when Timmy retires, their future title relevance likely hinges on how good Kawhi becomes. they will need a big to replace Tim, of course, but Kawhi has a shot at being an all-star for the next decade plus.

    • fredagsedb - Jun 23, 2013 at 6:40 AM

      I agree. Kawhi seems to be the future face of the franchise for the Spurs. But a lot also hinges on what coach they get after Pop retires. He’s hinted pretty strongly at retiring when Duncan does. Parker has said he will try to convince him to stay a couple of years after that, to see out his career.

  15. jbeagles23 - Jun 23, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    Pop taking on Howard? I don’t think so. And why does everyone think Howard is some kindof god. He’s a decent center on offence. Obviously great on defence but he doesn’t add much value to such a great team like the spurs

    • thelastpieceofcheese - Jun 23, 2013 at 10:20 AM

      …and can’t play down the stretch because he cannot make foul shots.

  16. ajw21 - Jun 23, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    I am a huge Spurs fan but we might only have 1 year left for being a serious contender. Duncan signed a 2 yr contract before this year. Maybe getting to the finals & having his best season in 4 years changed his mind but he was planning on retiring next season. Manu has stated he could retire anytime in the next few years & Pop has stated in the past that he will retire when Duncan does. After Duncan I think the Spurs can still make the playoffs but we take some time to get back to a championship level if they ever do get back. FYI: Its already been posted but the Spurs were 30 seconds from winning the finals and blew game 6 so they have still have a chance to get back next year but it will be very tough.
    Go Spurs!

    • spursareold - Jun 24, 2013 at 12:49 PM

      Tim signed a three year deal. The last year (2014-2015) was a player option. If they sign Manu for two years, that’s the length of their big three window. Remember, though: Kareem played until he was 41. Tim and Tony could conceivably extend for another year or two if Kawhi blows up as expected.

  17. jbeagles23 - Jun 23, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    As a heat fan I would love a finals rematch. That was fun to watch. And it’s proves that teams that push the ball compete with the heat better. It wasn’t their size

  18. spursfan10 - Jun 23, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    cmehustle…..problem here is that spurs looking at huge personnel turnover in next year or two?? What are you talking about?? If Dwight Howard were to not choose to play in San Antonio, it certainly shouldn’t be because team facing turnover, are you kidding me? The new nucleus going into the future for this team beyond next year or two would be Tony Parker, Danny Green, and Kawhi Leonard. Howard could be entering a team that would be favorites going forward with a frontcourt of Leonard, Duncan and Howard. No one would stack up against that frontcourt! Could be back to back championships!! And once Duncan retires, a team core of Parker, Green, Leonard, and Howard looks pretty darn strong! So if Howard truly wants to win, couldn’t find a better situation than San Antonio. Now as a hard core Spurs fan, I would love to see Howard come here, but know it isn’t likely. But too say wouldn’t go there because of personnel turnover is crazy talk.

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