What a championship would mean for the Spurs


The Spurs’ odds of winning a championship this season are ridiculously good.  The stat geeks and odds makers seem to agree that the math likes San Antonio. John Hollinger is calling for a 16-5 stomp through the postseason. And one smart lad gives the Spurs better than 50% chances against the field. All good things, so far as I’m concerned.

Bill Simmons is framing the Spurs’ coming postseason run in terms of legacy. “As for Duncan and Popovich, they have a chance to win titles 13 seasons apart — something that’s never even come close to happening in the NBA.” And he’s right. Various legacy considerations are in play.  Big, historic conversation stuff.  But let’s wait until July—or next week, depending on my mood—to pick up that discussion.

Before we get on with those conversations, let’s get practical.

Here’s what a championship would mean for the Spurs:

  1. Tim Duncan might retire. Duncan has given no indication of this, but it’s not hard to imagine him not taking a moment to reflect after securing a fifth title. Let’s file this away with other unlikely scenarios, but don’t discard it entirely.

  2. San Antonio is an attractive destination for free agents once again. At the start of last season, I wrote that as Duncan’s production continued decline, the lure of playing with him would also decline. Good free agents are not attracted to San Antonio for the tacos and traffic on I-35. The attraction of playing in San Antonio has always been the opportunity to win a championship, and Duncan was the bow on that dress. If the Spurs win a title, San Antonio should enjoy a renewed interest from productive free agents eager to win a title.

  3. Turnover. Teams will come calling for Mike Budenholzer. Phil Jackson, Mike D’Antoni, Nate McMillian, the Brothers Van Gundy, and Coach Bud are the league’s ‘A’ list candidates to occupy a vacant head coaching  position. And depending on how this postseason plays out, some of those positions should present a significant temptation for the Spurs’ head coach in waiting—think Magic, Knicks, Clippers, Blazers, whichever team lands Anthony Davis, and, perhaps, the Thunder or Heat. One would also expect Buford assistants Dennis Lindsey and Danny Ferry to receive  consideration for vacant GM positions.

If the Spurs win their fifth title, the legacy conversation will morph into bar stool mythology. Corporately and individually, the Spurs will place themselves in the most rarified of sports air. But the immediate aftermath will require a long series of bittersweet decisions and, with those decisions, the creation of new opportunities.


  • Stijl

    One can never get enough of championship titles, but after (if) they win number 5, who’s to say Pop wouldn’t want to go out a winner as well? So… to tie into #3…scenario #4 just may be Budenholzer becoming head coach while Pop retires off into the sunset of vineyards and vino.

  • Mike

    Wouldn’t Ginobili have to consider retirement too? He’s always one injury away and 4 championships where he was arguably the 2nd best player might be enough to get him in the HOF

  • DorieStreet

    First, an aside….
    Congratulations to the Austin Toros, 2011-12 NBA Development League Champions.

    A fifth championship would make the Spurs the ‘antithesis standard-bearer’for a sport and league that embraces and favors the spectacular, freewheeling style in both court play and persona in its games and throughout its seasons.
    As the fans and sport media of the NBA acknowledge and acclaim the stars’ feats, they still realize the ultimate goal to achieve is a team championship, and that the Spurs franchise has further puts itself in the elite category, and as Timothy Varner stated in his article, getting No. 5 makes it very attractive for other players and coaches to come in and continue the accumulation of titles.

  • mla2131