Reading About Timmy

Given that Tim was one of the all-time greatest NBA players, his retirement was met with a lot of #content. Some of it was good and some was just piggy backing on the topic of the day. Here is some of the best stuff I found, including the article Pop really enjoyed from the WSJ.

Goodbye Timmy

I picked up my Sports Illustrated for Kids and saw a picture of Wake Forest player Tim Duncan. There was a red arrow pointed to him with a cartoony caption that read ‘He’s good’. It was very typical of SI for Kids. The blurb said he was the likely number 1 pick in the draft coming up. When I got home from school and showed my dad, he said ‘yeah the Spurs are probably not going to get the first pick’.  

That was pretty typical Spurs Fan thinking. Sure, the team is in the league and they have had great players (Ice Man, Dave) but nothing like _that _would ever happen to San Antonio.  

The entire extended family was at Pear Apple County Fair when the NBA Draft Lottery was on. My uncle ran into the pavilion to check on results. He came out beaming and shouted (as he does) “They got Duncan. They got Duncan.” Now they didn’t’ _actually _get him then but it was a foregone conclusion. 

Tim’s first official NBA game against the Nuggets in Denver was very Tim — He was efficient and effective but understated. He scored 15 and grabbed 10 and while Dave grabbed 21 and 13. Also Avery Johnson had 19!  I’m not sure why I don’t remember Tim’s second game against the Cavaliers. It was pretty memorable in that Shawn Kemp made his Cavs debut and gave Tim and Dave 26 and 10. Whatever. Tim had 9.

Tim’s third game was against the Bulls who just had come off two seasons averaging 70.5 wins and boasted former Spur Dennis Rodman. Tim grabbed 22 rebounds — equaling Rodman — and the Spurs only lost by 4.  This game, more than anything Tim did up to that point — or even the stuff he did in the weeks to come — gave kid Adam hope that the Spurs were going to be different.  Everyone said the Spurs were regular season All Stars but Playoff chokers.  Dave was embarrassed by Hakeem a couple of years before, and the Spurs lost the WCF despite having Home Court. Tim was a new era. He could compete with the best and be unfazed. All time great Mike Jordan? Meh. Here is 19. Future HOF Dennis Rodman? I see your 22 rebounds. 

Later, when the Spurs faced the Jazz, a squad who had manhandled the Bob Hill Spurs two years previous, Tim scored 33 and 26 in Utah and the Spurs lost two games by a combined 4 points. SA lost the series in 5 because Tim hadn’t completely taken the Best Power Forward mantle from Karl Malone just yet, but that performance let him know it was coming very soon. Tim was more than the real deal. He was different. 

The NBA Title the next year was more of a confirmation of Tim’s abilities. He was a rookie that played like a veteran in his first. He played efficient, smart, and ruthless basketball for the next 18 years after. Aside from a decline in minutes, a blip in FT shooting percentage, and a gradual decline in dunk highlights, he was the same guy all 19.  He played the best the game had to offer with the same face he used to destroy the worst. Tim Duncan saved San Antonio Spurs basketball and he started by giving some Spurs fans hope in 1997.

Thanks Timmy! Have fun in the garage. 

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Well the Spurs aren’t dead yet. They also aren’t stopping a guy like Kyrie Irving last night. He dropped 57, including 7/7 from Three Land. Of all his shots, the most ridiculous was the falling-away triple as part of his personal 9-0 run to close out the game.

Here, for posterity, is more of that ridiculousness.

I am wary of this new Shaq-spouted idea that Kawhi isn’t clutch or some such. Sure, his two missed free throws leading to the Kyrie game-tying shot were big. So was Tony Parker’s missed jumper. Leonard got the rebound and was fouled. Where’s Tony’s tsk tsk?

I understand the desire to put everything onto our best player, but basketball remains a team game.“LeBron” got a win over “Timmy” because Kyrie dropped a ridiculous 57-point bomb on the Spurs. See how ridiculous that sounds?

Tonight the Spurs all but won that game. In the regular season that is okay, in the playoffs it will be a different monster. Kyrie was good preperation for the equally riculous, fellow-three-point champ Steph Curry.

Last night we saw some great basketball players go all-out against each other. The rules say someone has to lose. It was the Spurs.

I’m not even mad about last night. I’m impressed, actually.

Here’s to more great basketball.

Season Preview

In my brief time as Air Alamo guy I wrote in last year’s season preview that Spurs fans should not be mad at the situation, that OKC had too much youth and athleticism, and we shouldn’t be surprised when we got dumped by a young squad of athletes, whether that was Memphis again or OKC’s youth troupe.

I was still sad when we were eliminated- especially by the way we were dumped. I’ll even admit that I didn’t take my own advice and was the tiniest bit surprised. I thought we had unlocked the secret of eternal basketball life. Instead OKC used our powers of ball-sharing against us and undid all the good that was built up throughout that weird lockout-shortened season.

This year we have the same squad. Whereas the 2011 champion Mavs have the all-reject roster, the 2012 favorite Lakers retooled with a HOF point guard and the most athletic 7-footer in the game. The Heat replaced shooters with a HOF shooter and a former $100 million man. The Thunder still have the best scorer in the game and a lot of talent that can score and is willing to share the ball. Overall we are one year older and the competition is one year more experienced.

This isn’t unusual. Our unwillingness to tinker is our greatest strength. The Spurs value the corporate knowledge, that oft referenced Popovich phrase. It has also served to render us invisible. There are only so many words that can be written about Pop and Timmy and the Spurs Way. Everyone is content to forget about the Spurs until June, when circumstances force them to re-pay attention.

This season we have something slightly different. The NBA press has long respected yet long awaited the end of the run. Fans here have anticipated The End for a while. Some, maybe even Tony Parker himself, have already declared the end as having come and gone. That debate is for another post. This season and in all the seasons to come instead of waiting to see signs of slippage and looking for a chance to retool, I want to see how far this thing goes. Don’t trade Manu. Don’t trade Tony. Don’t tank. Let’s be like Kramer and the car salesman. I want them to say that the Spurs and that other guy went farther with the same roster (or at least the same big three) than anyone ever dreamed. I want you to be there when it happens.

What will it look like? How far exactly can this thing go?

Let’s say it is the fourth quarter 5:39 to go. The score is tied 89-89. Where does the ball go? The guy with the hot hand? Tim? He hasn’t been the unquestionable choice since about 2006. Sure, he can win the games against the New Orleans’ of the world. Sure he can use his guile and experience to steal points from Anthony Davis and the like. How about Dwight Howard? How about Perkins?

Will it go to Manu? Depending on the night, depending on the week, he may not be up for it. He is in his mid-thirties and doesn’t dispense greatness with the the same frequency anymore. In the four straight losses to OKC he scored more than 13 points once.

Tony? He is 30 now. We know who he is. We know what to expect from him. He can score in bunches early. He can disappear late. It was fun to hate on him for a while because he had so much potential and would show little flashes of greatness occasionally. He is the youngest and has the freshest legs but he is not Russell Westbrook, Dwyane Wade or even James Harden. He is Tony Parker, sidekick.

The correct answer is the open guy. The system that go us here. It creates open shots. The flawless execution and ruthless corporate knowledge will render all opposition talent looking foolish and two steps behind. The obvious problem is the same one that was evident last year: we need Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Gary Neal and all the rest to not only carry the team in the regular season and early rounds of the playoffs as they did so well last year, but do so against the very best the NBA has in the highest pressure situations there are. It is an incredible specific situation to prepare for, and one that won’t appear for seven months.

It is a test of patience and focus. It is trying to beat a video game with no save points. You have to go straight through to the end perfectly. There is no room for slacking. The machine has to be well-oiled and running smoothly or some other team will be holding the Larry. There is no out. There is no guy to toss the ball to and say “Clear out. You are the offense the rest of the way.”

This is the most intriguing aspect of the following the Spurs this and every year from now until the gas tank is empty. It is far easier to manage egos of the Heat guys in their prime, supremely talented guys that can win a game single-handedly, or guiding young talents on the Thunder, who have the best scorer in the game and something to prove. The Spurs have 30-year olds to manage, young guys to groom, and role players to coach up just to have the slightest of chances. Other teams need role players to “step up” when the stars are having an off night. This Spurs team needs them every night or there will be no tomorrow.

Prediction: 55-27. Exit Second round in 6 games to LAL. Bastards.

Dreaming About KG

Impossible is nothing. 

If Sports teaches us anything it is that the impossible is only until it isn’t. In the unlikely scenario that Kevin Garnett, enemy of Tim Duncan, spends his final years in San Antonio it would represent a significant change of course, surprise some people, and make me exceedingly giddy. 

It would take some financial finagling. Hey, LeBron, Bosh, and Wade took pay cuts to get together. Duncan and Garnett have made all the money already. Both are über-competitors. If you told them that all it would take to win another, possibly last-chance title is a pay cut and some hatchet-burying?

The TD window is still open but only just. Tony Parker may just only be Regular Season good. He and Ginobili spark the new fast-break first offense. None of that has to change much. KG is a still-rangy big man that can pass and play the post better than Tiago Splitter.

And really, are we going to compromise a chance at a title for the development of Tiago Splitter?

 Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Manu Ginobili, Stephen Jackson – that there is a list of ballers that don’t quit, don’t get scared, and still can play. We don’t have young guns like OKC and Miami. I can live with a roster of bad asses.