A motivational message from SiMA to our Spurs.
TO: the San Antonio Spurs
PRE-GAME, 2008 NBA Playoffs Game 2
Guess what? You lost on Saturday night. You lost in a blowout to a younger team. Angry? No?
Well, you’re the defending World Champions with nothing left to prove. But you’re old and slow and inconsistent and dirty. Your coach is overrated and your players distort the rules of the game to be successful. You just got embarrassed and shown up on national TV by the newly anointed media upstarts. No one outside of your immediate fan base is pulling for you, and most don’t believe that you can even do it. Your time has past, and you did so much but were never even truly a dynasty.
Now are you pissed off? Good, because that fire and passion and focus will be critical during Game 2.
Each time the stoneworker brings that hammer down to meet the rock in a violent collision, his hands bleed and pulse with pain unimaginable. Each time, to seemingly no effect, the hammer strikes the rock and more pain shoots through the stoneworker’s body. Each time he faces fear that his efforts are fruitless and aloof. Each time the pain and frustration threaten within to overpower him.
But each time, the rock grows weaker. Even when he cannot see it or feel it, the rock is already slowly breaking. Each time, he moves onward out of grit and determination. Each time, through the pain and fear and frustration, he knows he gets closer to completely breaking through.
The Hornets are good. They’re fast and determined, and they have threats on the floor at all times. They beat you in EVERY way on Saturday, and showed you that it will be more than challenging getting through them. They are worthy of praise and respect, and should be taken very, very seriously.
That said, there is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING that New Orleans brings to the table that you haven’t seen before.
Please. He’s a great player, and a fantastic talent; but he’s nothing you haven’t vanquished before. Remember Jason Kidd in his prime? Steve Nash? Allen Iverson? Deron Williams? Chauncey Billups? They were all darlings of the pundits as well, each touted as the prototypical guard….. and shredded by your game.
Who? Know how every year there’s an athlete that makes the All-Star Game as a mercy pick, and then fades back to being just an above-average player the next year? Guys, I’d like to introduce you to David West. If you can’t guard David West and recognize his game and glaring weaknesses, you have no business putting on the uniform. The mascot that caught the arena on fire before halftime of Game 1 could narrowly survive a bear attack and simultaneous heroin overdose, and then immediately go on to post up David West. You can handle Dirk, Amare, Bosh, Brand, Pau, and Boozer….and David Freakin’ West hands you your ass. This cannot happen. It must not happen. It’s one thing to allow your reign at the top to fall by the hands of a proven and viable big man. But David West is NOT the Achilles Heel of this team. Rotate men on him, push him away from the basket, do not allow ANY put backs or alley-oops. We WILL stop David West.
Remember both Nuggets series’ of several years ago. Remember the world’s collective love for the ‘exciting,’ and ‘new,’ and ‘dangerous’ and ‘promising’ Denver team. Remember losing Game 1 each time. Remember the fear and the doubt. Remember that each of us felt that it could be the end, that we could be too old and too incomplete to compete anymore. Remember the adjustments made, the passion you re-entered the series with, and remember the following overwhelming victories. We have done it before, and it will be done again.
The rage you feel is good. It hones and polishes us. It makes us stronger and less full of fear. But the fear is there; there’s no denying that. The fear that this New Orleans team is younger and stronger and faster and more confident looms within each one of us. But it is THAT fear, if kept small and controlled deep within, that will propel us forward. We must continue to bang away at that stone. We must continue to swing the hammer and bring it down, however painfully. You will be hurt and you will be tired. But there’s no such thing as a testimony without a test, and these guys will be testing us for 7 games.
The only thing beating you is desire. Little league teams around the country using your team as an example paused in confusion on Saturday. You do not hustle. You do not box out. You make passes so weak and risky that the elderly could intercept them. You play with no urgency or understanding of what it takes to be a champion, while the rookie team on the other bench laughs at you and collects your turnovers! You MUST protect the paint! You MUST challenge all shooters! You MUST rotate on defense and understand that we are not defending as individuals, but as one unit. We are each carrying a portion of the load, and we each need to see that the entire load will fall if one fails in his task. Provide smothering help D. Go under the pick and rolls. Take charges. Play SMARTER than New Orleans. Many times we beat teams with more talent, more speed, only because we are smarter. We are more experienced. We must add desire to that, and play with all three in harmony. When we do this as you know, no one in the world can compete with us.
We WILL win this series. We are better suited for 7 games, and know what it takes to overcome adversity. Call upon that knowledge right now! We HAVE better individual players, but must only play as one to defeat New Orleans.
We have the best player on the planet in Tim Duncan. No big man has more rings, more playoff success, more poise, and more basketball wisdom than Timmy. His defensive game is unparalleled. His offense cannot be contained. 1-9 performances are rare, and never duplicated. Anyone can be off for a night. But no one can thoroughly dominate a basketball court like Tim Duncan can. And he does not tolerate failure.
We have the best 6th man in the league in Manu Ginobili. He has won at every level possible, and knows what it takes to be a champion. He cannot be defended, and can single-handedly change a game or series by seizing the situation, and providing a passion that no one in the game can match. But he never plays his best unless down, and he’s down right now. Injuries and pride have sharpened his determination, and nothing will slow that.
We have arguably the best playoff point guard in the game in Tony Parker. His speed is matched by no one, and he doesn’t feel fear. He may not be the jump shooter or facilitator of his adversary, but he knows what winning requires, and he’s ready to prove himself yet again.
We have Bruce Bowen, the game’s best perimeter defender. The man who makes all of the big plays, controls the game on a psychological level, and can be completely relied upon to smother a hot offense. He also cannot be stopped from the corners.
We have Kurt Thomas and Ime. They are terrifyingly scary, and can kick your ass. They MUST be counted on for a physical presence. We need to be more of a bully in this series and stop expecting New Orleans to bow in respect! The Hornets’ youth and lack of control will show through upon being pressured and roughed.
We have the game’s most feared playoff clutch shooters in Brent Barry and Findog and Robert Horry. When doubling or tripling Tim persists, they will destroy New Orleans from the arc.
Every one of our role players will be counted on for experience and production. Our bench is prepared and ready to deliver when called upon.
And finally, we have the game’s best playoff coach. No other coach adapts and prepares for an opponent like Gregg Popovich. No other coach strikes more fear and respect into teams than ours. He has proven his superiority time and time again, and will this series as well. His game plan for Game 2 will include adaptations unimagined by Byron Scott, and unforeseen by the Hornets players. Breaking down an opponents offensive and defensive strengths, ESPECIALLY after a loss, is where Coach Pop excels and consistently delivers.
Do not doubt, and do not fear. Fear is nothing more than the evidence of a lack of faith, and we are faithful to our goal. We have been beaten before, and we will be beaten again. But we WILL eventually break the rock. We will eventually dismantle a New Orleans team unaccustomed to playoff basketball. We will destroy the fragile psych of a team easily stopped by strong defense. No one in the world can or will beat Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich 4 out of 7 games. No one is equipped and ready to do so, and these four will not allow it. We will take Game 2 and even the series. From then on, we have home court advantage and will not allow a loss in San Antonio.
So far as the cliché goes, New Orleans did what was required of them. No series begins until a road team wins, and we hoped to win one away from San Antonio. Game 2 is that game. When we go back to San Antonio tied, this becomes a new series with the pressure completely on New Orleans; and that is something they’ve never dealt with. Get out early, do not let up, and make smart decisions. We’ll have several days to rest, tonight is the time to put everything you have on the floor. Do not allow Paul to become a distributor and involve the entire offense. 30 points from their playmaker is fine, so long as he doesn’t MAKE plays with 10+ assists. Play physical down low, and hustle for EVERY play. Move the ball, and exploit New Orleans’ fatigue on transitions late in the game. We have them where we want them right now, confident bordering on arrogant and feeling secure without adjustments. Execution will be the key to this series, and we will execute to perfection playing as one. They feel that they have contained Tim Duncan, and we’ll allow them to feel that. We will exploit their double teams by rotating the ball, and hitting our shots. We will drive the paint relentlessly, and kick out to the open shooters when they collapse. They want to play physical, and that’s fine. We will play physical in the paint, drawing quick fouls upon their bigs. We will eliminate the fear of back door cuts and alley-oops by removing their post up threats. We will hustle on every play, diving for loose balls and fighting for all rebounds. We will force Paul into shots he doesn’t want with crippling defense and the cutting off of penetration.
I still stand by my prediction of the San Antonio SPURS in 5 games. We will not settle for our reign being stopped by a young and inexperienced upstart team. We’re definitely not through winning championships, and this year will not settle for the lack of a chance. Each of you is important and critical to the goal. We do not need a superstar performance to defeat New Orleans, but it IS critical in our system to have great play from each role. We got these guys, and will win tonight if we play as one. This is the time we’ve built and waited for, and now is the time to again surprise the world. Go out and KNOW that we’re winning, and do not settle for failure. We now know what it’s like to lose and will not accept it again. Keep pounding away, regardless of fear and set-back, and do not concede. You are the World Champions, and only fail if you allow it to be taken away.
GO SPURS GO