The winter of the Duncan Dynasty
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.