The San Antonio Spurs as John Adams: “I will outlive (Thomas) Jefferson”


“I will outlive Jefferson…

…Thomas Jefferson still survives.”


Fierce political adversaries whose rivalry bred mutual respect, and eventually friendship, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson are forever linked by the final words of Adams, the second President of the United States.

Defeated by Jefferson—his opposite in nearly every political aspect—as an incumbent, Adams was said to have proclaimed that despite having several years on his longtime rival, he would outlive Jefferson. Both reached their end within hours of each other, with “Thomas Jefferson still survives” being attributed as Adams’ last words (unbeknownst to Adams, Jefferson had in fact died earlier that day).

For nearly a decade the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks have stood as roadblocks in the path to each others’ success. Two veteran-laden teams sporting the longest 50-win regular season streaks in the NBA, at this point one has to simply wonder what it has to do to get rid of the other.

In that, the Spurs and Mavericks are like two bitter old rivals struggling to outlive each other simply for the opportunity to dance on the other’s grave.

 To complete the analogy, it’s hard to say which teams is Jefferson and which is Adams. Like Adams, the San Antonio Spurs are a little older and probably better positioned to outlast these Mavericks. But Jefferson is probably the more prominent historical figure (he only wrote the Declaration of Independence after all).

What is more certain is that in a perfect world it would only be appropriate for these two teams, this rivalry, to meet a similar end when their time does finally come. Hopefully with Tim Duncan muttering something along the lines of “Dirk Nowitzki still survives,” while completely oblivious to Dirk announcing his own retirement plans on Twitter just moments earlier.

Are these two teams on a collision course? It’s harder to see the Dallas Mavericks advancing to the Western Conference Finals than it is for the Spurs right now, what with a second round date with the Los Angeles Lakers looming for the Mavs barring a complete collapse from one of the top three teams. But it’s not out of the realm of possibility, because the rivalry between these two franchises deserves a spotlight of that magnitude for a potential swan song.

Behind the gifts of their respective franchise power forwards, the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks have outlived many of their contemporaries.

The Sacramento Kings, Portland Trailblazers, Phoenix Suns, and, yes, even the Los Angeles Lakers, have faded in and out of relevancy over the period of time the Spurs and Mavericks have sat atop the upper echelon of the Western Conference.

But their time is short. That’s the reality of being built around players on the wrong side of 30, age eventually diminishes everything. Everything except great rivalries. And though ultimately the goal is still an NBA championship, between these two teams there is almost a secondary need to outlive the other. To dance upon the other’s grave.

Even if it is only for just a couple of hours.

  • SpursfanSteve

    Pretty sure the Mavs average age is older than the Spurs. Their only promising player under 30 is Roddy. I think Chandler is still relatively young too, but he’s reached his potential.

  • DrKXM

    @SpursfanSteve…you are right the Mavs avg age is older than the spurs: 29.3 vs 27.6.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Yeah will be waiting to see who goes first. Hope its them.

  • DieHardSpur

    What a fantastic analogy. Not only can you write about other topics, but you do it quite well. Color me surprised.

    In regards to basketball, as far as being relevant is concerned, the SPURS are without a doubt the more dominant and “built to last” team. TIM DUNCAN has forever etched his name in the sport of basketball.

    Dirk has been a fantastic baller, but has yet to hold the only trophy that counts. He will be in the hall of fame, but his name will not read “Dirk Nowitzki – NBA CHAMPION”

  • DieHardSpur

    I hope you don’t take offense to my first comment, it was meant as a compliment.

  • Flavor

    awesome read…. These are the type of articles that got me hooked on this website. Excellent writing!

  • SpurredOn

    Glad you wrote this piece. This has been the best NBA rivalry of the past ten years, far exceeding the short lived Lakers-Kings competition, yet receiving far less attention. Spurs-Lakers have been the two best franchises as far as dominant post-season play and championships, but Spurs-Mavs have had entertaining regular and post-season games. Plus the best seven game series in perhaps twenty five years.

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  • Bankshot21

    I’m just hoping the fine editors @ Espn took the time to add a line or two from this fine writing and put it in the true hoop blog compilation. I’ve actually been educated by this article. Thank you.

  • rob

    Hope the longevity of the Spurs goes on longer than the death of the Mavericks.

    Political statements and basketball…gotta love it.

    Seeing this is a (great written) piece conjuring the “eventual death” of the Spurs…let me add…the Spurs have been more like the birth of this nation. Fired and willed to victory by both great leaders and uncommon valor working together in unity to achieve the ultimate goal.

    The Mavericks have been more like the aristicratic nemesis (England) compared to the revolutionary and independent people of America (Spurs) when this nation was first being formed.

    I can’t wait (if it happens this way) for the “Boston Tea Party” as the Spurs dump all that precious cargo harbored by the Celtics into the ocean and raise yet another victory for what many nations and foreign leaders back in the day of Jefferson and Adams thought would only be a short lived (small market) nation that could not survive or compete.

  • Len

    Only at 48MOH would a basketball junkie find an article like this. Nice job.

    Really, I mean it Jesse. Great piece of writing.

  • DorieStreet

    Great literary piece.

    The Spurs -definitely John Adams: accomplished; crucial in the formation of this nation, but less famous in the same roles as his counterpart, the ‘reknowned’ Thomas Jefferson -the Mavericks: high profile, controversial; “quoted” often. (By the way, Adams assisted Jefferson in drafting the Declaration of Independence.)

    Time is short, to be sure; many of the political pundits have dismissed the Spurs as the old soldier, inferior to the revised, reinforced Mavs.
    Others say the successor to the king out west is the young charge that thrives on the same road (IH35) further north. Soon the battles will commence–and to the victor goes the spoils.

  • Jacques

    I would definately say the Spurs will outlive Mavs.

    If everything goes properly, three years from now (2014), we still (can) have a starting lineup of
    Anderson (25 years old!)
    Ryan Richards?

    Which would be better than
    Dirk (turning 36 )

    Agree? Of course w/o draft picks, free agent signings…

  • Money

    The mavericks are the only team with 8+ seasons of 50 wins without a ring. Every team on the list had at least 3 rings. I almost feel bad for them.

  • Bruno

    This is the real Big Three!!!80 points!!

  • andy

    March 18th, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    agreed. i vote for the spurs as adams. his writings helped form state constitutions even though he was a staunch federalist (spurs have spawned copycats in other front offices and with stretch 4s even as they have won championships).

    a more complete ending to the analogy would be that like jefferson and adams (who reconciled by the way), the spurs and the mavs ultimately respect one another as foes.

  • Mitch


    Right now, I’d rather see the Mavs in the second round instead of the Thunder. How nice would it be to see the Lakers play the Thunder in the second round and we get the Mavs!

  • TBDigital

    Great piece. When I read the title, I thought you were referring to the Spurs surviving Richard Jefferson’s poor production of late. Hopefully they’ll be able to outlive that as well…

  • Colin

    Good win. Next.

  • DorieStreet


    You might get your wish.

    3) Mavs 48-21 \\ 5-5 in last 10
    4) Thunder 45-23 \\ 9-1 in last 10

    Good, gusty win by the Spurs.

  • Nima K.

    Los Mavs fueron derrotados. Excelente!

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ DorieStreet

    “Good, gusty win by the Spurs.”


    I couldn’t have said it better… i was actually tying to think up a work to describe the win and then I was what you wrote……It wasn’t the prettiest, or cleanest win of the season, which is why I think this is our BEST win of the season…… Mavs were finally at full strength and we were still aable to frustrate and basically out scrap them when we needed to…… NICE JOB all around…….

  • Bruno

    @TD = Best EVER

    Is because that i am not worried with our D in playoffs, TD and Dice playing 30-35 minutes together, is what we will to see in playoffs, Solid D, less bonner+blair combo.

    But this game bench struggling, Blair+Bonner+Hill+Neal= 9-36 from the field.

  • DorieStreet

    @ Jacques–

    You started your weekend on some powerful stuff.
    Bonner can’t start now. Jefferson and Parker both will be in their 13th year; add on Parker’s earlier pro years overseas–I can’t see either of them keeping up their level of play enough to be starters.

  • Nima K.

    Assuming that we are capable of repeating tonight’s output level again in the playoffs, I agree with Mitch: The Thunder are a tougher matchup for the Spurs.

  • grego

    As expected, that rest really helped the Spurs. they looked gassed in the Miami game.

    As long as the Spurs can pace themselves, they should do fine. Duncan still has it, proven by this past game. Good to see Manu with rest bring a good shooting game out.

    Parker, if he plays like this will be the MVP of the team in the playoffs.

  • Wes

    Ah, but I think you may have missed the most significant part of Jefferson and Adams’ departure, that it happened on the 50th anniversary of our independence.

  • DorieStreet

    @TD=Best EVER

    +100 on this being the best win of the season:
    didn’t see game but followed on gametracker—
    I think the best part of the tilt was the 3rd qtr–the Mavs cut the lead to one, 52-51, then tied it @ 60–but the Spurs didn’t relinquish the lead.

    Let’s follow it up by sweeping the Bobcats; they are coming off a loss from up the road in OKC, but are still fighting to get the 8th spot in the eastern conference playoffs.

  • bong p.

    The game in a nutshell: The Big 3 – Timmy, Manu and Tony – and the Big D were responsible for the grounding of the Mavs on their home court. These two constants, which hopefully continue the rest of the way, plus a productive bench should make others, in the end, believers of these Spurs.

  • DorieStreet

    @ Mitch, NimaK.

    Jon Barry (ESPN) has gone on record that the Thunder can take the Spurs out if they meet up in the playoffs. That’s a great leap from one season to the next –1st year, 1st round exit to WCF.

  • Flavor

    OKC would have to beat Denver… and Denver is 7 and 3 in their last 10… OKC should win this matchup, but I could see it go 7 which would be good for the Spurs.

    Good win tonight.

  • DorieStreet

    Almost got a trifecta: Bulls, Celtics lose; Twolves had a 1 point lead with 5;15 to go in the 4th but could not hang on @ Staples.

    HCA lead is 6 games over the closest team.

  • Hobson13

    March 18th, 2011 at 8:58 pm @ Mitch, NimaK.

    “Jon Barry (ESPN) has gone on record that the Thunder can take the Spurs out if they meet up in the playoffs.”

    Barry was also on board the “Thunder will be second best in the West” train before the season started. That didn’t work out too well for him. These ESPN analysts (Barry, Rose, Jackson, etc) seem to jump on every new bandwagon that comes along. It makes you wonder how smart they really are or if they are just paid to pimp ESPN propaganda. I think the Thunder are a great team and will be a tough out IF we run into them. However, they are no better than 4th out West even with Perkins 100% healthy.

  • DorieStreet


    +100 on the propaganda. The producers have Stuart Scott ask on every pregame show, “Why is everyone overlooking/ignoring the Spurs?” That’s just to acknowledge the record-breaking season and the inevitable HCA advantage. The networks that cover the NBA- ESPN/ABC, TNT, NBA-TV- want the Spurs out of the way (you already knew that-it’s been that way since San Antonio won the first title post-MJ way back in 1999). I want the Silver & Black to wreck shop one more time under TD’s run.

  • bong p.

    This outcome will silence naysayers for a while, but given the nature of the cage cognoscenti on this blog, it will be too good to last. As long as San Antonio keeps on rolling, we don’t mind and rather enjoy the give-and-take here.

  • bong p.

    A close look at the box scores show that the margin of difference was decided by free throws: 18-of-19 for San Antonio, a 94.7 percent clip, compared to 13-of-17 (76.5) for Dallas. Notable, too, was TD’s perfect 6-for-6 from the stripe.

  • junierizzle

    Why are people scared of The Thunder? They’re a good team but no way they beat the SPURS in the playoffs. Aren’t they undefeated against the Thunder? Mentally they already own them.

    Besides I think people are expecting way too much from PERKINS. Without Perk, OKC is just Okay. With Perk, people have them in the WCF.
    Perkins is a fine player but people are talking about him like he is Shaq from ten years ago.

  • andy

    @bong p.

    yes, that is extremely notable, as that rate won’t hold up over time. also notable was marion getting hurt in the first half (after he was tearing us a new one).

    again, the only thing i’m taking away from this game that i wasn’t sure about before, was that our big 3 can still carry the team/decide the outcome of the game if need be. that was still an uncertainty for me (even if the efficiency numbers for them were fine), and it’s good to see them step up and deliver.

    as always, this doesn’t prove we’re contenders, it doesn’t show that we suck. we’ve got a chance at the title, just like a small handful of teams. it’s still great to be a spurs fan.

  • spurholic in Mumbai

    Great analogy. Sports writing taken to another level!

    Satisfying result, beating the Mavs.

    If Spurs beat Celtics, they would go go through this season without losing a series to a top team, Bulls 1-1, Magic 1-1, Heat 1-1, now Dallas 3-1, even Lakers series will be at best 2-2, hope for 3-1, thunder 2-0 or (3-0, not sure). No series loss during the regular season, dont know when it was last achieved.

    HCA through out the playoffs appears a distinct possibility with Celtics losing today!

    For the playoffs,

  • Esrl

    I agree with you Junierizzle, I see no reason to be afriad of the Thunder. Even with Perkins, they don’t have a low post threat. They have two great perimeter players and some decent filler elsewhere. Playoff series are won in the half court sets, and they won’t win those games unless they shoot lights out for a series or Durant finally decides to post up Hill like he should.

  • Colin

    Overall, OKC will be a tough match up in a 7 game series. However, I think that they can’t beat the Spurs 4/7 because of their lack of scoring consistency. Where will the points come from consistently to win 4 out of 7? They look good in the regular season against some teams, but it is mostly due to facing their new line up and lack of preparation against their new “big” line up.

    When any given playoff team, especially the Spurs, are given sole preparation for one series with OKC, they can be game planned against on defense to limit scoring aside from Kevin Durant whom we know will get his. Jeff Green was 15 ppg for them and was a very, very versatile player offensively and defensively. He will be missed.

    Perkins helps them out inside (especially on defense), but I still think that offensively they don’t have enough to make it past the 2nd round. Harden will have to continue playing out of his mind throughout the playoffs to make up the scoring Green vacated.

  • hassan

    Well a good win for the spurs and again defense wins… the spurs missed 13 straight shots but held the MAVS for 3 shots only in that duration so our harpening on defense and recent concerns are very real… we need to maintain this defense into the playoffs and improve the rebounding (by improving our blockout on shots)…I think this is one game the spurs won although they have been outshot in FG%… thier goal should be defensive FG% of 42-43%…..

    Drive for 5… Go Spurs Go…

  • LasEspuelas

    This has been your best writing yet. I love your work. Keep it up!

  • betsyduncan

    Damned fine writing, sir!