Enjoying Duncan, Manu and Parker

by

spurs-tim-duncan-manu-ginobili

Enjoy them while they're here and playing well. Not Ronny Turiaf and Wilson Chandler. They're not around. (Photo credit: Matthew D. Britt on Flickr)

Spurs fans have been fortunate over the years for many things, but a couple really stand out. San Antonio has three great players who have played their entire careers thus far in the silver and black. That’s unheard of in the modern game. Then there’s the quality of those three players: top notch. At one point or another, all three have been near the apex of their position.

This post is my reminder to you, and myself, to enjoy them while they’re here and still playing at a high level. Tim Duncan continues to baffle me as to why he’s still so good. His box score numbers don’t reflect it, but Duncan can dominate a game on command. Duncan now has the fortune of being able to pick and choose when to assert himself, much like an old dog will every now and then pick up a ball and go all out for another game of fetch, even when the years are adding up.

It’s so rare to see a big man with the efficiency and all-around game of a Tim Duncan. So many big men in the NBA are raw athletes with limited skills. Or those with great skills are often limited athletically. Duncan is no longer the athlete he once was (and he was an athlete), but he still has great strength and footwork, even if the quickness and explosion has eroded. A big man with the ability to put his stamp on all facets of the game, both offensively and defensively, is precious. Even in today’s NBA.

We’ve been robbed of some Manu Ginobili games this year, thanks to a broken hand, but they’re coming. As Manu slowly rounds into form, the GINOBLI! plays will return. Like the behind-the-back pass to DeJuan Blair on the fast break from a couple of seasons ago. I tune in to games in hopes of seeing moments like that just as much as I hope to see a win. The win is the destination and no one wants a boring journey. Manu knows only one way to play basketball and we can all be thankful for that.

I’ve long been of the opinion that Tony Parker was San Antonio’s least favorite Spur, at least among the Big 3. Parker will always be ahead of Matt Bonner and Richard Jefferson in the Spurs fan pecking order. Tony Parker had the Hollywood wife for a time and always seemed on the verge of leaving San Antonio for New York or Los Angeles. I always assumed Spurs fans protected themselves against the inevitability of Tony Parker leaving by showering more praise on Duncan and Manu.

Only Tony Parker never left. Even when he was entering a contract year and rumors were swirling of him eventually joining Amaré Stoudemire in New York, Parker re-signed with the Spurs for a more-than-fair deal. Many of us have unfairly expected the worst in Parker and never really given him his due as a Spur.

And now, Parker is having his best season. I, like many others, assumed that Parker was firmly on the downslope of his career. He’ll be 30 in May and guards who rely so much on their quickness rarely age well. Parker carried the team while Manu Ginobili was out and earned a place on the All-Star team. He put a greater emphasis on distributing the ball and as a result, the Spurs not only weathered the storm of Manu’s absence, they excelled. Second in the West, just a game and a half behind the Thunder. ESPN currently has Parker ranked seventh in its own MVP voting.

I don’t pretend to know how the rest of this season unfolds, nor how the Spurs will look in the coming years. So make sure to enjoy the team for what it is now, and while these three great players resemble something near their peaks; or at least the ability to reproduce nights like they routinely had in those years. There’s still a lot of greatness to watch on the Spurs, cherish it while it’s around. There’s no guarantee that the next generation of Spurs will possess the same.

  • http://twitter.com/timmyduncanfan Chris Velasco

    brought tears to my eyes

  • Nick

    Well said re: Parker.  I think one thing that stands apart about Duncan and Manu compared to Parker is that Duncan/Manu can impact the game without putting up big numbers.  Duncan’s steady defense and command of double teams and all of Manu’s intagibles make it easier for Spurs’ fans to forgive them for having a poor statistical performance.   I think TP brings of less of that so if he’s not putting up the numbers fans want, he’s automatically considered trade bait.  I’ve never been a fan of trading him and I’m glad he’s still a Spur. 

    re: Manu.  This play probably won’t make it into the Ginobili top 50 highlights, but it’s one of my favorites because I saw it live.  It’s what makes Manu, Manu.  (they second time they show it captures his vision very few players have)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYkFlrW_cqs 

  • MannyPacquiao

    I love my spurs GO SPURS GO!  Manu, Tony, Timmy, we will forever be greateful!  GO SPURS GO

  • http://profiles.google.com/lordxar Ray Briggs II

    I think the Spurs should retire all of their jerseys on the same night. I know the rest of the league and fans won’t even recognize it but there haven’t been a set of 3 players quite as successful as this Big 3 in the last 25 years.
    Tony Parker was right, if they played for the Knicks or Lakers or Bulls they would be considered basketball gods.

  • Deeds130

    Thanks for an old school 48MoH article.

    I hope that Timmy can dominate on command, I’m not sure he can (heck we’d propably win out if he could). Tony seems to come closest to being able to dominate whenever needed, on offense anyway. Remember his late 4th quarter scoring to put the Blazers away earlier this season? 10 points (including a converted steal, actually) within like 70 seconds of subbing back in the game. So money. Just keep working on that jumper, Monsignor. I wish he’d just DECIDE to solve that problem in his game. Follow J-Kidd’s example or something. Heck, ftm, I wish he’d just decide to master defense and hang his hat there too. I know he could do it, I know he should do it…

  • Spurs Obsessed

    I’m close to shedding buckets in the office right now. THESE GUYS!!!!!!!

  • junierizzle

    Great piece. I never blamed the FO for not trading TP or Manu. The reality is they would never have gotten back the same level of talent or passion that TP and Manu play with. I always laugh when someone says “trade TP for a decent big and serviceable PG.” Why?! I guess some people just want a trade for the sake of making a trade. Even more head-scratching was the talk of tanking the season after Manu went down. Yeah, let’s tank the season to get a 25% chance at drum roll……………….Harrison Barnes?

    Not to get too off topic but I think the FO should be applauded not bashed. Let’s face it no one wants to come to San Antonio. (They got TD, Manu and TP in the draft) Yet they still manage to be in the playoffs every year. The fact that TP stayed is SA pretty much says it all.

    I’m glad the Big 3 are still together and heres to another run in the playoffs.

  • DorieStreet

    If you will be fortunate to be in the house when any of them leave the court for the last time – stand and deliver:
    cheer loud – chant their names – clap until your hands hurt – keep going long after the game has ended. Bring it on until they come back for a curtain call.  Tim, Manu, and Tony have competed and conquered in this dynamic league for a decade- and they have done it in their own unique way, individually and together.

  • Drgstarflash

    As a Spurs fan, I will always be grateful for the memories and celebrations, and the heart aches. As a San Antonian, I have been blessed with a great team that demonstrated true professionalism and loyalty. Timmy will always be the ultimate Spur. No disrespect to Big Dave and Iceman or any other Spurs legend, but he was the missing piece for our dynasty. I love Manu and everything he brings to the basketball court, but Tony was always my favorite player. So many people have dogged him for whatever reason they could possibly think of, (he scores too much, he doesn’t pass the ball enough, he doesn’t have a jumper..etc) but he has always been here. He took all the criticism and still did his best, in spite of everyone. I agree with the previous post where they should all have their jerseys retired together. Here’s to the best we can get from the best players we could have ever hoped for. This generation of Spurs have exceeded all of our expectations and given our city a winning identity.

  • http://twitter.com/kmgospurs Kristen Mullen

    Well I think Manu’s going to be the first one to go.  His body isn’t going to last very much longer (retiring from international career after the Olympics this year) like the other Big 2. I have to say I hated seeing him have to spend much of his prime years as a sixth man and not a starter. People said he made a better sixth man but he played better as a starter in the long run. I wonder if he could’ve gotten another AS to add to his resume.  The other too have done so much for our team it’ll be sad to see them go.

  • miggy

     Are you kidding me. In this age of instant gratification and gimme, gimme, gimme and then gimme some more, these guys have been stalwart and professional their entire NBA careers. Graciously they have remained Spurs through those careers. What a blessing it has been to be a Spurs fan through it all.

  • ACE

    TONY PARKER DESERVE TO BE ON THE” MVP” CONDIDATE……!!! TOP 5 MVP………1. KEVIN D. 2. TONY PARKER 3.CP3 4. LBJ 5. OTHERS…….TONY PARKER FOR MVP…MVP……MVP……MVP….!!!

  • STIJL

     This here.

    It is the fact that all of them…unique in their individual talents as players…combined for so many years to produce a unified one that has made them so great.

    Not sure if the same chemistry could be duplicated by any other combination of “star” talent Tony, Manu and Tim (TMT) have produced for the Spurs.

  • ManuMVP2004

    We have to appreciate what they’ve done because Manu has already said he is planning to retire next year (his contract is up), and I don’t know how much years are left in Timmy’s body, considering he is even older than him

  • Colin

    I’ve noticed a lot fewer comments with the negative connotations lately.  Hmmmm?  That’s weird, where did all those posters go? 

    Oh yeah, the Spurs have been winning regardless!

  • Len

    Those who know basketball, respect Manu a whole bunch.  The guy is the ultimate teammate.  He helps his club win games in so many ways.  Just look at his track record and it’s truly amazing.

    MVP and champion – Euro League
    By far the best player on the court at the 2004 Olympics when he dismantled the US team
    3 time NBA champion

    I think Manu is one of the most inspirational athletes, I’ve ever seen, and I mean that.  He is in rare, rare company in my book.  It’s been a blessing, a true blessing, to see him compete on the basketball court.

  • DaveMan

    Reading this article makes me want to get the package. I’m tired of reading about the Spurs. I need to watch them before it’s too late. 

  • Titletown99030507d

    Splitter has picked up his game as well. Everything is right with the world for now.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Funny how they all came from outside the US. Are we spoiled as Americans. Maybe foreign players tend to appreciate success when they get it and become loyal. Even though Duncan played here I still consider him foreign. Who knows just my opinion.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Manu will always be my favorite Spur. Who else can claim a Looney Tunes reference?

  • Titletown99030507d

    The closest I ever got to experiencing a winner before Core3 was back in the late 70’s when Iceman and the gang came within 1 game to going to the NBA Finals only to see their dreams disappear when Washington came back at took the Eastern Conference finals 4-3 when we were up 3-1. What a heart break. Those damn Bullets. But everything came full circle with the Core3 and their championships. It was worth the 20 year wait. Will we ever have another Core3 in this modern game.

  • Titletown99030507d

    The day they come out for a curtain call will be bittersweet. Not to mention the biggest party San Antonio has ever seen.

  • Titletown99030507d

    The day Manu is done and he hangs up his wings will no doubt be a sad day in this town. But there’s always the DVD tribute.

  • Titletown99030507d

    That would be cool to see. The three going up at the same time. Never to be replicated.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I’m speechless.

  • http://profiles.google.com/nadeemmoulvi Nadeem Moulvi

    Couldn’t agree more. It will be a sad when we lose the big 3 in the not so distant future.  Tony does deserve a lot more respect.  I really thought that the spurs nation would open up to him after all he did during the 2006-07 championship season. He single handedly destroyed the entire Cavs defense in the Finals. 

  • Bry

    This article is all the more evidence that people demanding silly trades or even the few guys who called loudly to ‘blow it all up’ this season (you know exactly who you are) are totally misguided. This era is special and fleeting. These guys have had a spectacular run together and too soon they’ll hang up their jerseys for the last time. We’ll have to rebuild then anyway (or continue rebuilding as we already are doing); so there is absolutely no reason to jump into that horrible abyss. In fact, it would likely go down as the worst front office decision in the history of our franchise. I hope these guys all play another 2 or 3 seasons, give us occasionally reminders of their glory, take a full and forewarned ‘goodbye tour’ and then all become commentators and ambassadors. Until then let’s enjoy how they continue to win, win, win.

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  • Tim in Surrey

    Sorry, but this is a pet peeve: Timmy didn’t come from outside the U.S. He came from the U.S. Virgin Islands–which is part of our country. He’s not an international player! Remember when he was on the olympic team? He didn’t have to go through any naturalization process for that. He was born an American citizen, just not in one of the states. Because the U.S. Virgin Islands isn’t a state, like Puerto Rico, they are allowed to field their own olympic team if they choose. But natives of the territory always have the choice to play for the U.S.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Regardless of your peave it’s not like he was born and raised in the mainland. He ain’t from Texas so I’ll consider him foriegn. If your true Texan then you understand. If not so what. Geeezzz!

  • Colin

     Do it!  Every year for the past 2-3 could have been their last…….as well as this year. 

  • Mildcrush_95

    Great article. Brought tears to my eyes.

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