Tuesday, April 28, 2009

San Antonio Spurs: The End of an Era

With the Spurs losing to the Mavericks late last night, the book might have been slammed shut for this version of the San Antonio Spurs. For the 2nd straight year, the Spurs have struggled in the 2nd half of Playoff games and they have not gotten anything from their bench or the supporting players.

It was a great run.

4 Championships, 4 Conference titles, 7 Divisional Titles and 12 consecutive Playoff appearances since 1997 can definitely take its toll on a professional club. No matter how many times Tim Duncan and the Spurs have defied the odds by overcoming tremedous adversity, there is no way to beat out Father time or the mileage maturity brings.

TD is on the brink of being the greatest basketball player that ever played the game yet you would never know it because of his humility and continued focus on performing at a high-level. Sometimes this leads us erroneously to believe that the Spurs are legitimate contenders every year. But let us be honest with each other, 12years is a long time to run laps on a hardwood day-in day-out.

Really, I had planned to make a tribute to this team for their excellent play and the value they have brought to basketball. For a while the Spurs were the only team in the NBA that promoted the fundamentals of the game. They promoted all the good things: hard-work, dedication, commitment, knowledge, integrity and, competition. The solid foundation for any sport. It only makes sense to recognize what they have meant to the sport of basketball for the past 12 years. However, after watching them lose these last 2 Playoffs, I am convinced there might be 1 last run in these Spurs so I will hold off for another day.

Right now though, the Spurs as we know them today are finished. Tim Duncan, understandably, is no longer able to win a series all by himself. The pressure is too much for him to live up to at this point in his career (and we are all to blame). It is too bad because Tony Parker is in his prime right now. Ginobili is also pretty much on his last leg. The future has been realized for the fantastic trio. So what next?

The Spurs need to blow up their entire roster. Unfortunately, they are not going to win anything with Kurt Thomas, Michael Finley, Bruce Bowen, Drew Gooden, Ime Udoka, Roger Mason, Jacque Vaughn, or Matt Bonner. These guys are done. In the past the Spurs had sparkplugs like Robert Horry, Sean Elliot, Mario Elie, Hedo Turkoglu and, Brent Barry to pick up the slack during the dull moments. These days, the supporting cast leaves way too much to be desired. Drew Gooden and Roger Mason leave so much to be desired that I do not think they should be brought back next season - if possible.

The Spurs might still be able to get a run before TD rides off into the sunset but it will be with a totally new team. This version of the Spurs is worn out, played out and, done. The run is officially over - the Mavs closed the final chapter tonight.


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