The winter of the Duncan Dynasty

by

For as long as I can remember, I started every San Antonio Spurs season with the belief that the team could win the NBA title.

Partly because of my youth — I was in elementary school during the David Robinson-Avery Johnson days. And also because of the quality of the teams, especially the ones Tim Duncan led as I’ve grown into adulthood.

But now, in September 2010, I’ve finally lost that feeling. To me, the San Antonio Spurs are no longer title contenders. Some will scream “blasphemy” and close their browser windows in anger. Others will think “duh” and wonder why it took me so long to open my eyes. But admitting the Spurs’ time has passed ain’t easy.

It’s not the end of the world, for the Spurs to have little shot at championship number five. That’s the beauty of the NBA. We get to watch DeJuan Blair defy traditional models of effective big man. All while trying to implement a jump shot into his game. And we can see what George Hill can improve upon this year, after making so much progress last summer.

I’m fortunate to get a chance to watch Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili on a nightly basis, both nearing the end of their careers, do what they do better than most ever have. Tony Parker, he of the only-28-years-old-and-still-in-his-prime fame, should be out for blood this season. Somehow Parker turned into a bit of a villain in the past year for some Spurs fans and without a concrete reason.

We also get to see Tiago Splitter, the international man of mystery, discover his status in the best basketball league in the world, after being the top dog in the second best basketball league in the world. Then there’s James Anderson. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy will make his home in the land of the Longhorns and Aggies and Roadrunners and Bobcats (eat ‘em up cats). If he works as hard as we hear, Anderson won’t have trouble making fans.

Unfortunately, the league passed San Antonio by. The Lakers feature five players significantly above average. Two of whom, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, could be considered in the top 10 players in the NBA. The Boston Celtics have four potential All-Stars on their roster. The Miami Heat boast three top 15 players (or top 25, depending on your opinion of Chris Bosh) who are all in their primes.

Several months ago, blogger Matt Moore went on one of his Twitter rants, this one about the Lakers (I can’t find it to link to, the guy has over 30,000 tweets). This was in February or so, and Los Angeles wasn’t playing well. He said that in the end, talent wins out. The most talented team wins the NBA title. And sure enough, the Lakers were champs in June.

These days, the Spurs don’t have that quality. They are still a very good team. San Antonio will probably win 50 games again in 2010-11 and extend their streak of 50-win seasons. They’ll be a team that no one wants to play, be it December or May. But they will never truly be a threat for the title.

It’s strange not to expect a championship at the end of the season. I know at some point, I’ll get sucked in and think, “hey, this team might actually have a shot.” But it will be short-lived. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Only one team out of 30 goes home celebrating when all is said and done. San Antonio fans should feel blessed they experienced that outcome four times.

But the team will go about their business as usual, preparing as if they have another shot at the title. Because in reality, they do. I’m just one person with an opinion, albeit with an outlet for that opinion. The Spurs will fight tooth and nail for that fifth ring. I’m just here to tell you that if they fail to get it, don’t fret. There’s plenty more reason to follow along this season.

  • whhaaa?

    Damn.

    Pour one on the curb for the homies.

  • Gomezd

    BLASPHEMY!

  • BigJ

    Andrew, this is what is wrong with blogs, statistic divers, unabated free time, and the wandering mind; over analysis.

    Let’s not forget that sports is about the unknown, the uncontrollable, and surprise. It is also important to believe in something even if your mind tells you not to do so.

    I say…GO SPURS GO!

    P.S. – Although, for a long time Spurs fan, that Durant kid should be fun to watch this season. Just saying?!?

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    @BigJ

    You see it at over-analysis? When writing it, I simply thought of it as a realistic look at the season ahead.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Timothy Varner

    I have these moments too. And I definitely have that zen-like so-what-even-if interest that Andrew outlines. James Anderson is enough reason for me to watch attentively this season. I’m excited for whatever era comes after the Tim Duncan era, but, for my money, it can keep waiting, at least for a season or two.

    Doomsday was imminent in 1998 and that ended up a Y2K-sized blip on the Spurs’ radar. I don’t think the window is closed. The Spurs still have a fighting chance. The odds aren’t the same is all. But longer odds bring greater glory. I’m embracing my inner underdog.

    Andrew and I can jostle over this tit for tat, post for post as the season progresses.

  • Glib Grouse

    harshed. my. mellow.

    That’s one to keep for the private journal or to reflect on afterward.

    And besides, sports are 38% psychological. And 21% pure happenstance. I think the talent and bodies in our other 41% got a puncher’s chance.

  • micah

    I don’t know if the Spurs can win it all, but I do know these two things:

    1. The West is much weaker this year than last, especially if Melo moves on.

    2. No team in the league gives the Lakers more problems match-up wise than the Spurs. Not the Thunder nor the Celtics. I’m not a psychic, but I’d be willing to wager quite a bit that last playoffs the Lakers were much happier to face the Suns in the Conference Finals than the Spurs. The Spurs just have to beat the Lakers next year, and with the Lakers getting a year older as well and with a questionable bench I think the odds are pretty even if that series comes to fruition.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Timothy Varner

    @Micah

    Why do you think the West is weaker? I would say with confidence that the East is stronger, but I’m not sure the West is weaker?

  • ian

    hey andrew, big ups

    i’d hate to say it too about my favourite team, but sometimes, the writing is on the wall.

  • Ryan

    In protest, I’m done with this blog.

    For a few days.

  • http://theorangerock@blogspot.com therealkman

    I smell a setup!

  • ITGuy

    “I was in elementary school during the David Robinson-Avery Johnson days.”

    “But they will never truly be a threat for the title.”

    I was a grown man at that time and watched the Spurs win big in the regular season ( only to be done in the playoffs ) for at long, long time but I never gave up on them. And not once did I think that they would NEVER win the ‘chip.

    At the end of the day, that’s what being a true fan is all about.

    I will not give up on my team, the time will come once again even if YOU feel like it won’t. And, at least, I’ll still be loyal to my team because I’d rather be loyal to a team with troubles than be a bandwagoner on a team with success.

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • Chris

    If Tony comes back with a vengeance. If Tiago is anything near a Brazilian version of Robinson (at the end of his career; think 2003). If James Anderson comes in and is that dead eye shooter the Spurs have been lacking. If Tim & Manu stay healthy…
    … then the Spurs have a great shot.

    Lot of if’s, which is the reason for this blog, I suppose. You never know, though, stranger things have happened (like the Spurs EVER winning a championship). Until Timmy actually retires, I’m not ready to take on this defeatist attitude. Someone needs a hug.

  • quincyscott

    I think the Spurs are about the same as the Celtics, who last year came within a hair of beating the Lakers. Three aging stars, good roll players, depth at most positions, quality coaching, and championship experience. With (A) a little luck, (B) good health, and (C) development of young talent, the Spurs are in the same position. Nobody picked the Celtics to go to the finals last year, and in fact they had a lackluster season right up until the playoffs began. So I don’t think anyone can say the Spurs have no chance. They are certainly not prohibitive favorites. But if A, B and C hold true, I would not bet against the Spurs come playoff time.

  • Chris K.

    We’ve said it before, but only a re-commitment to top-class defense will give the Spurs a chance this year. If we’re in the top 3 in def. ppg by the end of the year, we have a chance. If not, then not.

  • Tyler

    @ ITGuy

    I think there’s a major difference between being realistic and a bandwagon fan. Just because you believe your team isn’t a contender doesn’t mean you are any less of a fan than one who believes you’re destined for a title that particular year.

    What about the hardcore fans in Minnesota or Golden State? Are they any less of fans because they know their team has no shot at a title this year even though they live and die with every game?

    Maybe I’m misinterpreting your comment, but it sounds like you’re saying that anyone who doesn’t believe SA is going to win a title this year isn’t a loyal or true Spurs’ fan?

    And no one is giving up on this team. In fact, Andrew pointed out the reasons why he’s in fact, optimistic about this team – Splitter, Anderson, Blair, etc.

    And FWIW, at the end of the season, I think we’ll be playing like the 2nd best team in the West, and meeting the Lakers in the WCF.

  • Juanroberto

    The truth hurts..

  • Juanroberto

    It hurts you kn0w?!

  • idahospur

    Boston Celtics: 17 NBA Championships.
    Minn/LA Lakers: 15.
    Chicago Bulls: 6
    Spurs: 4.
    Other 3 teams are in large markets that can attract almost anyone. Spurs made some great decisions and managed 4 titles, mainly with role players by not going over the cap.
    We had some great years, and I wish we had some more to see, but reality is what it is.
    I’m grateful to see risks in the FO. RJ didn’t perform in year one but it was better than watching other teams in the playoffs while the Spurs sat at home.
    Let’s hope this team gets a few lucky bounces, stays healthy, and beats the living crap out of the Lakers!!!!
    GO SPURS GO!!!!!!

  • td4life

    “Somehow Parker turned into a bit of a villain without a concrete reason” ???
    Actually I’m not sure he was ever thought of as much of a villain, but our reasons for disloyalty were spelled out again and again. In brief, the fact that his game is more suited to a 6th man role, than that of QB means that most everybody else’s offense suffers when he’s on the floor. Ginobili is the only true playmaker on the squad, making everybody from RJ to Blair much better. These arguements were validated when TP went down last year and the Spurs started kicking ass.

    This year is TP’s last chance to silence the critics.

    “Sports are 38% psychological”
    That might actually be an understatement, and is one of the reasons the Spurs aren’t contenders. Ice Cold plasma is what makes (my least favorite player) Kobe Bryant the leagues best player, and also feeds Gasol and the rest of the guys, even if Gasol’s talent is what makes Kobe a champion and MVP. Chauncy Billups and Dwayne Wade are right there. Rondo is the man on his team. Our guy is Ginobili, who plays too few minutes to be The Man. Pop doesn’t let Blair play enough to lean on his confidence, and we’ll see what Tiago is made of. But just like the Celtics in their last Finals game, too often, the Spurs willingly fall into the trap that the we can’t win certain games. Actaully, Tony’s confidence rarely wains, but his offense is just not varied enough to take over in any situation.

    I know Spurs Nation doesn’t want to admit it, but I’ve seen Pop and TD’s teams give up and pout too many times, we just aren’t the most confident group. All the more reason to build around DEFENSE!

  • Jamie

    Excellent article. Your points are correct.

    ESPN published an article a month or so ago about how the current Lakers was built on the trade of Shaquille O’Neal to Miami after falling short in the 2003 Finals.
    Not many teams would have responded to making the NBA Finals by trading a Hall of Fame player still near his prime and firing a Hall of Fame coach like the Lakers did. The consequent decisions made by that head office has led them to today. They were willing to break apart a team to set up tomorrow. They were willing to sell off players and personnel who had contributed to their organization substantially.

    We are not. And I thank God for it.
    The question for us is not whether it would be better for the Spurs in their drive for another championship to trade one or all of the Big Three while they still have high value. Of course that is what you would have to do.
    The question is whether that is the kind of team/organization/community we want to be?
    I would rather be a fan of the San Antonio Spurs than the Los Angeles Lakers any day.

    I would rather care for and support a Tim Duncan as he ages and laugh with my children at those HEB commercials with Manu, Tony and Tim than have to explain to my kids what happened between that girl and Kobe that night in Colorado.
    Your point is correct. We are making strategic decisions that are not completely based on being the best basketball team. We are making strategic decisions to do the best we can with these men that we have all fallen in love with.
    And may God bless our city for it.

    Tim…you deserve every ounce of our loyalty.

  • ITGuy

    @Tyler,
    Being that I’ve been hardcore Spurs fans since before ’99 (pre- chips) I disliked the comment which stated that;
    “But they will never truly be a threat for the title.”

    Last year I knew the Spurs were in trouble and I even predicted the season was over before the playoffs but, I won’t ever say that the Spurs will never contend for the title again.

    Didn’t the Spurs prove that statement wrong about 4 times already?

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • Monty

    At this moment, SAS are not the chamionship contenders, that’s for sure. But, there’re still plenty of occasions to upgrade (think of where was Bryant before Gasol trade) and lots of the unknown (think of where was Boston when Garnett blew his knee 2 seasons ago and where were C’s when he was more or less healthy last season) that giving up, now, before the ’10-11 season even started is… reckless.
    Before every season, I play with my friends with a ”who’s the best prophet?” game. The questions are various, like: how many double-doubles would Shaq have at the end of the season? (with the possible answers like: less than 5, 6-10, 11-15, more) or ‘who’s going to be the best 3-pt shooter?’, etc., etc.
    Right know, we might as well betting on how many points would Bron score against Cavs in Cleveland, but my guess is… he’dn’t show up (DNP: flu-like-symptoms :-D). Of course, he might as well play some modest 20-15-15 game and say after the game that he’s especially proud of those 15 assists (‘I needed the guys who can really score’ wink to Cavs fans). Right now, it’s just guessing, nothing more.

    I believe in Spurs or as you usually say: Go Spurs, go!

    We’re just one Oden-like season of Kobe to enter the Finals, again, and one Arenas-like behaviour of LBJ to face Orlando in the Finals and win, again.

    Greetings from Europe,

    Monty.

  • micah

    @ Timothy

    I will temper my comment a bit by saying the West is ostensibly weaker.

    The Lakers are the best team; however outside their best 6 players there is a precipitous drop in talent.

    Phoenix replaced Stoudemire, Barbosa, Amundson with Turkoglu, Childress, and Warrick. Possibly marginalizing Dudley in the process. (if that ends up being the case, the Spurs should try and trade for him despite his annoyingly unfortunate affiliation with TMZ)

    Portland could be good. But they should have been good 2 seasons ago and with all the front office unrest, trades and trade talk, injuries, and what seems to be wavering belief in Roy, they may have reached their potential.

    Oklahoma City will undoubtedly be better and I believe will challenge for a top 3 spot in the West.

    Dallas will be the same as they are every year – not too afraid of the Chandler addition

    Houston will be a wild-card depending on the health of Yao. With a healthy Yao they could be a top 3 team as well.

    Utah lost a lot of talent and with Okur hurt they aren’t the same team. Jefferson is a good player and a good addition to that team, but who is going to run the pick and roll with Williams?

    Injuries and drama I believe have and will marginalize the Nuggets

    Basically, aside from the Thunder, what Western teams really look like they have gotten better? There are too many question marks about the top West teams at this point to really say any of them have gotten stronger, and question marks to me at least make it easier to assume they have gotten weaker.

    The teams I see the Spurs having the most competition from, aside from Kobe and co., are the Rockets and Thunder; and the Rockets are not a sure bet at this moment.

    Caveat: by mid-season trades, injuries, chemistry or, fortuitous events may alter my pre-season perception of the West, but at the moment this is how I see it (which really doesn’t matter much).

  • Badger

    Great article!
    The reason I will enjoy this season a lot more than last year is that the odds are actually better to win it all this year than last, in my opinion, and there are so many interesting stories, new people, new developments on the team and in the league. Truth is, Spurs and a few other teams are really only one Kobe or Gasol sprained ankle or season ending injury away from hoisting another Larry Obrien trophy. That’s what makes it seem within reach to me.

  • GitErDun

    Several things about the evaluation of players by writers drive me nuts. If Hill, Blair, Splitter, Anderson, Neal were on either the Lakers, Heat, Magic, or the Celtics, they would be being talked about as budding superstars. On the Spurs they are just complementary players. The Lakers drafted Derrick Caracter – writers have gushed about what a steal he was in the draft. Anderson – not so much as a mention. The Lakers signed 3 new role players including Matt Barnes who has played on 8 teams in 8 years and 37 year old Theo Ratliff. Why would the best, most talented team need to sign 3 additional players?? The Celtics who played for the NBA championship needed to sign Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal?!?!? Look at all powerful Dallas – does Mahinmi make them better?? How about Tyson Chandler – does he make them contenders – if you think so, look how he did at the worlds. He averaged more fouls than points or rebounds.

    I don’t think the Spurs are that far out of playing for the Championship. As usual, I think it is going to come down to team health. One major injury and that team is down for the count. What would the Heat be with one of the big 3 out for an extended period of time?? Could the Lakers win it all with either Kobe or Gasol out??

    If players play for the Spurs they are always considered to be fringe or average – never budding stars.

  • DaveMan77

    Omg! You’re dead to me. Just kidding I’ve been watching too much Jersey Shore. I think the (situation) with the height of Duncan and Spliter is going to cause a lot of problems for opposing teams. But you’re right teams aren’t gearing up to beat the Spurs anymore. If I’ve leaned anything about watching basketball is that the chase is always more fun then the result.

  • John

    @Tim:

    I do think that the West is getting weaker. Stoudemire and Boozer moved East, essentially taking their teams out of contention (unless you believe in Turkoglu or Jefferson). Dallas returns essentially the same team that folded in the first round, with Dirk, Kidd, and Marion another year older. Same with Denver, except that it’s Billups and K-Mart that are aging and Melo is clearly a lame-duck this year. And as for Portland and Houston, every year they come into the season with high hopes, but how many years in a row do key players like Oden, Yao, and Roy have to keep getting hurt before they stop being “fluke” injuries and we just realize that they are injury-prone players who I wouldn’t bet on to stay healthy?

    Given all of that, I would say the only two teams in the west that are clearly better than the Spurs are the Lakers and the Thunder. Sure, if healthy, we will be hard-pressed to beat them. But injuries happen. Thus, while I’m not optimistic about this season, we’ve got as good a chance as anyone to get out of the West with a little bit of help.

    And just a reminder: we weren’t really considered contenders going into 1999 or 2003 either. Those seasons seemed to turn out alright.

  • micah

    @John

    I completely agree with you except for one point which I’m sure to get a lot of flack for: I think the Spurs are still better than the Thunder despite what the pundits say.

    Sure they have a transcendent player and the Spurs have two transcendent players past their prime, but the Thunder have some glaring deficiencies that even all of Durant’s brilliance cannot make up for.

    The Thunder are considerably weak up front. Green is a good player, but he is a good role player and a tweener. Krstic is their starting center, which needs no comment. They have Ibaka who may take a leap at least defensively this year, but is offensively challenged. Collison is a perpetual underachiever, and they have that rookie Cole who has been categorized as a career role player.

    So while not the worst front court it in my mind does not compare to the Spurs, Lakers, Blazers…

    I also think they are too inexperienced and outside of Durant, inconsistent, to make a strong playoff push, they need more of a veteran presence on the team to do so.

    They also lack consistent outside shooting, but that may change this year with the additions of Cook and Peterson and the development of Harden.

    They are a dangerous team and getting better all the time, I just do not think they are there yet. Time will tell though.

  • zainn

    you’re crazy. tony and manu are still gonna be as dominant as they’ve been becuase they are gonna be rested through the summer, as they’ll both be better than ever. duncan will go through the smae game plan as before, playing low minutes until the playoffs, and splitter will be the dominant force we have been waiting for. adding all the pieces with the big three with we always have had, will make a GREAT team. the thunder or lakers will be our only challenge this year, i don’t really think the trailblazers are as good as they are projected to be. They will be like the magic, too much talent in one team, and the right player will not get to ball enough (howard) for their team to win. We will always be giving the ball to duncan to post up, and we will win. (barring injuries) good day

  • John

    @micah

    I understand where you’re coming from. But just remember that Westbrook just compared very favorably to Derrick Rose in the World Championships and seems set for an all-star coming-out party this year. Ibaka did a great job of guarding Tim down the stretch in some of the later games we played last season, and the fact is that nobody can really contain Durant at this point. Beyond that, the Thunder have a cast of able role players like Green, Harden, Thabo, Collison, etc, that may not be flashy but can play solid defense and are at least good enough on offense to keep opposing teams honest. And honesty, have a transcendent superstar is just such a huge deal in basketball; when two teams are somewhat closely matched as I think the Spurs and Thunder could be, the team with the best player on the court generally wins.

    But like I said… it’s close enough that anyone claiming the demise of the Spurs before the season even starts is a little premature. The Spurs are right there in that level below the Lakers (and arguably, the Thunder), so that if we catch a few breaks, we could give Tim one more nice playoff run.

  • GitErDun

    Who knows how good Neal, Blair, Splitter, Hill, and Anderson can be?? When he was drafted, no one knew that Durant would be that much better than any of his peers. Who knew last year that Wesley Matthews who was UNDRAFTED would play well enough to get a 5 year, $32 Mil contract? Hill was runner up for Most Improved. Does that count for something – NOT if you are a Spur. I think the Spurs are quietly happy with their team. They don’t seem to be panicking about signing any additional players (something you can’t claim about contributors here and at PTR). One thing for sure is that we will start finding out in 2 weeks when training camp finally opens.

  • paul

    thats the spirit!

  • Bentley

    I’ll be the first to admit that on paper the Spurs do not look like contenders…however we found out harshly last season how you look on paper doesnt always translate to what the production on the court will be. And that goes for the rest of the teams in the West too.

    LA is the only sure team in the West right now. There’s no way just because OKC took LA to 6 games that they can automaticaly be catapulted from the 8 seed to the 2 seed. They have virtually the same guys, albeit Durant and Westbook will be better.

    So I say, hold all teams outside of LA to the same standard. We have no idea until we actually see some games being played. Give our guys a chance to show if they too are better in their next year. I wouldnt predict us as chance, but im damn sure not ruling that out.

  • Jim Henderson

    Thanks for your candor, Andrew. It’s not always easy being a fan, and also dealing with reality. You’re just acknowledging that the Spurs have a very slim chance of getting a title this year. And while you certainly don’t say that with joy, trying to stay in touch with reality is more important to you than being a cult member, and I applaud you for that. The following pithy quote says it all:

    “But admitting the Spurs’ time has passed ain’t easy.”

    micah
    September 14th, 2010 at 6:27 am

    “The West is much weaker this year….”

    The West is not weaker this year. OKC, Blazers, Rockets, Mavs, Lakers, Grizzlies, Kings, and the Clippers are all the same or better this year (even the Warriors are probably better!).

    “No team in the league gives the Lakers more problems match-up wise than the Spurs.”

    I disagree. The Rockets & Blazers are tougher match-ups for the Lakers than the Spurs.

    quincyscott
    September 14th, 2010 at 7:29 am

    “I think the Spurs are about the same as the Celtics, who last year came within a hair of beating the Lakers.”

    We don’t play team defense like the Celtics. That’s the main difference.

    Chris K.
    September 14th, 2010 at 7:48 am

    “We’ve said it before, but only a re-commitment to top-class defense will give the Spurs a chance this year. If we’re in the top 3 in def. ppg by the end of the year, we have a chance. If not, then not.”

    Well put. I agree.

    Tyler
    September 14th, 2010 at 8:05 am

    “I think there’s a major difference between being realistic and a bandwagon fan. Just because you believe your team isn’t a contender doesn’t mean you are any less of a fan than one who believes you’re destined for a title that particular year.”

    A point that obviously can’t be reiterated often enough.

    GitErDun
    September 14th, 2010 at 9:45 am

    “If Hill, Blair, Splitter, Anderson, Neal were on either the Lakers, Heat, Magic, or the Celtics, they would be being talked about as budding superstars. On the Spurs they are just complementary players.”

    Those players are in fact not budding “superstars”, and it has nothing to do with what team they play for.

  • Tyler

    Off topic, but….

    Erick Dampier just released from Charlotte, which begs the question, would he consider the Spurs??

    I have to think we’d jump at the chance to sign another big of his caliber. Even at his age, he’s still an above average interior defender. It would be a coup if the FO could pull that off. Fingers crossed.

  • Jim Henderson

    Tyler
    September 14th, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Agreed. Currently we don’t have the size (youth or athleticism) to compete against the front lines of last season’s finalists. At least Dampier would give us the size to compete.

  • Dave

    Lakers, Bulls, and Heat are my only serious tile contenders. The Celtics have a shot. So do the Magic. The Spurs shocked the hell out of me when they got swept by Phoenix. I agree with 50+ wins. I think Duncan should move on if he wants to win more championships. But he has more character than that. I would say I’m 95% sure that Duncan is going to finish his career with San Antonio. I think that after Duncan retires so will Popovich and I also think that Manu will leave and Parker would be traded for sure after that happened.(If he was still on the team).

  • GitErDun

    Jim Henderson….

    ““If Hill, Blair, Splitter, Anderson, Neal were on either the Lakers, Heat, Magic, or the Celtics, they would be being talked about as budding superstars. On the Spurs they are just complementary players.”

    Those players are in fact not budding “superstars”, and it has nothing to do with what team they play for.”

    Unless you have a crystal ball that only speaks to you, you have no way of knowing what each of these players will or won’t turn out to be. Stop being the self appointed 48MOH know it all.

  • rob

    I’ll hold comment on this article until about the end of the season.

    My die hard fandom thinks they have a shot at a title. The decline of who the team has won championships around may be the reality that’s being spoke here.

    But…the season hasn’t started. The new faces haven’t proved good or bad. And there’s the heart of a champion that always seems to find a way to win.

    We’ll see. But I understand the just of the article. Combining emotion with doubt seems to inevitably breed future mental preparedness in times of anxiety of the unknown.

  • http://yahoo.com R YBARRA

    I recall when the Lakers use to break my heart, when Majic brought his act to town. When Portland came back, while I went to grabbed a burrito. I thought, if I only had skipped the last desire for heartburn. When Rodman brought us hope, only to put on a white wedding dress and leave us at the alter. I was dreaming when I saw Ice and the Doctor J go mano a mano, only to wake up to a Washington Bullet between the eyes. If the eye covets what it sees, I witnessed Kobe Crying, Shaq murmmering, and the Mighty (Jackson) making up excuses why the Spurs got lucky. The punishment of a liar, is when he tries to tell his truth nobody beleaves him. Go Spurs Go.

  • mikrobass3

    “He (Matt Moore) said that in the end, talent wins out. The most talented team wins the NBA title.”

    i disagree. in the 2004 finals, the pistons beat (actually, trounced) a more talented lakers team. plus, we all saw the travesty of the 2006 finals. there’s a reason they play the games. the spurs have as good a chance as any and a better chance than many to win it all in 2011. they need a ‘perfect storm’ season to win the championship. here’s to them.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com/2010/09/02/death-of-tradition anonymous

    You saw what happened last year once Ginobili was in full stride. They were beating all the top teams on their home court. Well. things want be the same this year. They are even better. If they don’t break Ginobili’s noes again and put that big white bandage glaring in his eyes, we got them right where we want them.

  • Two Cents

    the number 8 seed took la to 8 games… all of a sudden they are going to be the number 2 seed? based off what?

  • Easy B

    I like the reality check. After being dismantled defensively by Phoenix last year, we have well and truly assumed underdog status….which I think the fan base need to embrace. For us to make the WCF this year and face off against the lakers would be somewhat punching above our weight as things on paper currently stand. But thats the beauty of the team this year, we have a good injection of youth with alot of upside potential……..thats why they play the games!

  • Vikombe

    I like our chances; I honestly do not think we’re done yet. Last season was an injury plagued season full of adjustments, yet we still managed to make the playoffs and beat the number two seed. The spurs met their demise at the hands of a motivated and red-hot Suns team that was playing killer pick and roll (PnR) basketball. Our Achilles heel was our pick and roll defense. As constituted last season the spurs were more suited to defend against isolation offenses and that is why we got past Dallas. Dallas offense is predominantly an Iso offense that runs through Dirk. Though they run some PnR plays they are not as effective as the suns. Dallas PnR plays often end up as Pick and Pop because Dirk does not roll as hard and opts for an elbow jump shot. Additionally their lack of 3-point threats allows the spurs to adjust with help defense. My point is the Spurs defend well against none PnR teams. Last season the Suns were the perfect storm for the spurs. If you factor in TP’s injury plagued and ineffective season, Manu’s broken nose and TD’s “burnout” and subsequent lack of lateral speed to defend the PnR, one begins to understand our second round loss. These combinations of circumstances are fixable and we addressed them this offseason. By bring in Tiago and the development of Blair, the Spurs can lighten TD’s load to save him from “burnout” and we have also improve our PnR defense. Additionally, though we can’t take credit for this, the spurs stand to benefit from the weakening of the PnR western conference teams (Jazz and Suns). This season the spurs are better suited to deal with injuries with their depth and the versatility of the current players to play multiple positions. We are also more athletic and have more promising three point threats than last season. The moves made this offseason may not have the same sizzle of last summer, but at least on paper we are a much better team than we were last season. The only team that’s a notch above us in the west is the Lakers, this is the only team in the west we should be worried about and I still like our chances against them. We match up well against the Lakers. The spurs have made subtle and significant changes this offseason. I believe we’re still in the bunt!

  • JP

    Whatever the case may be…Just don’t lose to the Mavs in the playoffs and I’m good.

  • quincyscott

    Vikombe: I completely agree with where you are headed on this. I would like to think that, had the Spurs advanced, they would have given the Lakers a better run for their money, even last season.

    Jim Henderson: As far as comparing the Celtics and Spurs, I do not think the Celtics really were a lock down defensive team last season. But they definitely stepped up the defensive intensity in the playoffs, and they had the bodies to do so. I absolutely agree that unless the Spurs can recover their defensive chops from two seasons ago, they will not contend. I think Splitter, Hill and Jefferson will have a lot to say about that. (And, personally, the less of the red haired bomber I see on the floor this year, the better. I am probably oversimplifying things, but my gut says there is an inverse relationship between team defensive quality and minutes played by Bonner.)

  • Jim Henderson

    GitErDun
    September 14th, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    “Unless you have a crystal ball that only speaks to you, you have no way of knowing what each of these players will or won’t turn out to be. Stop being the self appointed 48MOH know it all.”

    “…..only speaks to you….”???

    The suggestion that I somehow went out on a limb because I said that Hill, Blair, Neal, Splitter, & Anderson we’re not “budding superstars”, regardless of what team they played for, is preposterous. Believe me, I’m far, far from alone in that assessment. Just take a poll and you’ll see what I mean. Look, two or three of those guys could make it to “all-star” level (if everything goes as well as possible) in the next 3-4 years, but “superstar”? No way. The only one I’m not “quite sure” about is Anderson, because he’s young AND I haven’t seen him play enough, and not at all in the NBA. But the main point here was that these players would not be seen as budding superstars just because they played for a more high-profile team.

    rob
    September 14th, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    “My die hard fandom thinks they have a shot at a title.”

    I think Andrew is just saying that the Spurs have a very slim shot at a title, not that they don’t have “any shot”.

    Vikombe
    September 14th, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    “The only team that’s a notch above us in the west is the Lakers, this is the only team in the west we should be worried about and I still like our chances against them. We match up well against the Lakers. The spurs have made subtle and significant changes this offseason.”

    The changes were much more subtle than significant. I don’t see us as a clear-cut two-seed in the West, and I don’t think we match-up that great with the Lakers. Our front line does not have a good enough combination of weight (TD, Dice, Splitter), height (Blair), or youth (Dice & TD). I see the Rockets & Blazers as matching up better with LA. As it stands, I would seed us 4th or 5th, at best. We have a very slim chance at a title. Everything would have to go close to perfect, which would include our fair share of luck.

  • Hobson13

    The Spurs have a chance this year to be a good team and an outside shot at the WCF. There was a considerable amount of turnover and injuries among several top flight Western Conference teams. Unlike years in the past where there was a clear cut #2 WC contender, this year there are a number of teams who could take that spot. Also, keep in mind that injuries will inevitably take a toll on 1 or 2 good teams (lets hope its not us) thus increasing our chances at getting deeper in the playoffs.

    I get amused at certain “experts” and several other self appointed hoops gurus who think they can predict next season’s playoff rankings and outcomes 8 months in advance. Lets not forget that last year there was only a 5 game difference between being #2-8 seeds in the West. Had the Spurs started the season in a more respectable fashion, we would have easily been a higher seeded team and could have even gotten to the #2 spot. In the end, the only thing we can really bank on is that the Lakers (barring injury) are the #1 seed. The rest of the WC playoff seeding is completely up in the air.

    Whether we make it to the conference finals or not (and I believe we have a decent chance) this season will certainly be interesting. I can’t remember the last time we had so many new/young faces on the team. Blair, Hill, and Splitter should be decent contributors to varying degrees. However, guys like Temple, Anderson, and Neal are huge unknowns. I doubt any of these three make any real contributions in the playoffs, but if one got hot and won a regular season game or two, that could be the difference in a higher seed.

    In the end, this will be a huge test for Pop and the coaching staff. These young players will test how well the coaches can teach, involve, and develop the new talent. Let’s hope Pop can live up to his reputation.

    P.S. I agree with those who think we should sign Erica Dampier. He would be a nice addition to the team and can eat up some defensive minutes in the middle while Splitter is getting his NBA legs.