Imagine an alternate universe:
The NBA lockout it is at its low point. David Stern decides to implement a crazy strategy to save some revenue for a lost season. He has the Tottenham Hotspurs switch places with the San Antonio Spurs. Tottenham might complain heavily about this. ( The average height of their squad is about 5 feet 9 inches) So Stern thinks “Let’s decide this by counting trophies!” and then after a quick Wiki search he goes “Um on second thought let’s not…” Sweet Caroline, the Tottenham Spurs have won at least fifteen significant championships in soccer. In all fairness European soccer crowns a significant champion every week, and the club was founded when Chester Arthur was the U.S. president. So instead the E.P.L. chairman David Richards and Stern agree on a deal as long as Lebron James stays away from Liverpool and that every United States citizen agrees on calling “soccer” by its proper name. Unfortunately David Richards figured out that David Stern is in fact not the King of America after he signed the deal. Much has been said about the international peonage of the Spurs. So what would happen if they played that most international of games? This is a good fit. They certainly would be better than the Miami Heat. ( A soccer game can’t be won by three guys who would celebrate every time they successfully pass the ball.) So what would this team look like on the pitch?
Note : This article makes two huge assumptions right off the bat.
1. The Spur’s basketball skills translate directly to soccer skills. This is not possible, but neither is anything in else in this article, so shut it realists.
2. The Jackson/Diaw/and Mills moves would have happened even if San Antonio was in the E.P.L. during these deals.
Back in the day the Spurs would certainly be a 5-4-1 kind of team. All defense with one stud kicking it to the back of the net. (Side note: can you imagine Bruce Bowen playing defense? "Holy splintered shins Batman!") These days the Spurs would benefit more from a 3-5-2 formation. This formation is very unique. It has a focus on attack but doesn’t leave any obvious holes on defense.
Your Starting Eleven:
GK Tim Duncan * (US Virgin Islands)
CB Tiago Splitter (Brazil)
CB Stephen Jackson (USA)
CM Manu Ginobili (Argentina)
LM Gary Neal (USA)
RM Patrick Mills (Australia)
F Adam Hanga (Hungary)
* Denotes Team Captain
Goal Keeper and Captain- Tim Duncan
When the feces hits the fan, you need someone to protect the very outcome of the game. A rock so to speak. That is Timmy. Goalkeepers by their nature are not flashy. However they are vital to their team. When the feces really hits the fan he could even pull a Rogério Ceni and be an attacking GK. You need someone reliable between the posts, and with over 3 billion solid starts (citation needed) Timmy defines reliability.
Center Back- Stephen Jackson
Center backs need to be gritty. Skill is not necessarily important, but intelligence and hustle are. So with that in mind Captain Jack gets the first nod. He has a brilliant eye for an opponent's moves, and his ability to play well with Duncan really makes him a cornerstone on defense.
Center Back- Tiago Splitter
The second CB needs to be someone with young legs. Someone who can surprise the offense with bursts of intensity. He is a bit of a gambit because of his size. But how could you sit your only Brazilian player?
Sweeper- Kawhi Leonard
This formation requires an excellent sweeper. This position is a rarity because it calls for a special kind of player. Someone who can absolutely dominate on the defensive end, whilst having enough energy to floor it to the other side of the field and set up the offense. Kawhi fits this position perfectly.
Left Midfielder- Gary Neal
At this position Neal could very well provide a spark that changes the course of the game. One furious drive from the far left that leaves the crowd speechless. During most of the game he would facilitate passes to the middle. He would also be a consistent threat to pick passes from the opposing midfield.
Center Midfielder- Tony Parker
Sometimes your best offensive player needs to be in the middle. That is if your team can afford it, and the Spurs can. Tony would absolutely break ankles in the middle. He has a proven ability to pass. He would instantly make any player at the forward position 1,000,000 times better. And he has a proven ability to tear through an entire defense if need be. He would be comparable to none other than Pele when the great one played attacking midfielder.
Defensive Midfielder- Boris Diaw
Boris would be a defending midfielder. Someone who can drop back and make sure the ball remains on the proper side of the field. He also has the strength to crank out super long airborne passes. So I am sure Kawhi would appreciate the help when things get rough on that particular area of the pitch. I don’t see Pop putting Boris on center stage during set pieces ,but it would be an interesting thought.
Center Midfielder- Manu Ginobili
Being from Argentina alone gives him a starting nod. But Manu fits well in any position because he has speed, unpredictability and an overall awesomeness that can not be quantified. With passes being fed to him by a superb backfield he would be an unstoppable force. He could fire a holy shit what just happened kind of pass. Or he could move the ball forward so fast, that the keeper would be an afterthought.
Right Midfielder- Patty Mills
To be honest this a bit of a gamble. He is still relatively unknown, and he has the potential to disrupt the passing flow from the right. But what he lacks in overall talent he makes up for in accuracy. Patty provides a scoring threat from way back. This could also translate to pinpoint accurate crosses. And let’s be honest some more, considering who else is at midfield an occasional bout of marvelous activity would be all that is required of him.
Forward- Adam Hanga
Sometimes the best strikers are not the ones who have more talent. They are the ones that the opposition’s defense doesn’t see coming. Someone who is so new that they haven’t developed “tendencies”. Enter Adam Hanga. From what I have seen from Hungarian league highlights on youtube, he is very fast and tall. If he gets to the box quick enough to catch a Parker pass with his head, then set and match. So yeah he is not technically with the Spurs yet, but this whole article is technically impossible.
Forward- Danny Green
With Danny’s inclusion this offense is downright frightening. He would have the ability to make it rain from the deep end while his counterpart is forever in the position to tap one in. He adds balance to this offense. He like Adam is also young, so they are able to keep pace with anyone.
DeJaun could be a very intriguing player. I really wanted to put him in the middle. However he has one “big” downside. Ok so there are not many soccer players that clock in at 270 pounds. But DeJuan would be a good sub if the Spurs needed to focus more on defense. Also look out for Pop putting DeJuan at middle, and moving Manu up front if one of the forwards can’t slice bread.
This is a thin bench so the Spurs need someone who can step into any position. Enter Bonner, the jack of all trades. He would be good at any position. Not great mind you, but a good pair of fresh legs is more than enough at the sixty minute mark.
Overall team assessment:
The opposing keeper would crap in their pants as they would have to deal with a lightening quick Hanga and a precision oriented Green. On top of that shit sundae you got Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli roaming the midfield ready to pounce at any moment. Not to mention there is a potential thirty foot bomb coming from the legs of Patty Mills. This is not an offense to be taken lightly.
The core of Duncan, Jackson, and Leonard make this defense rock solid. If Tiago brings his A game then this is the best defense in the world. What they lack in numbers they make up for in awesomeness. Even brilliant forwards like Messi or Ronaldo couldn’t get a ball through this brick wall.
This is a once in a lifetime midfield. Where to start? Dizzyingly fast and accurate passes. Hard nosed defensive plays. Unrivaled cohesion. Strikes on the goal that seemingly come from nowhere. If the rest of the team was composed of the Fighting Jackrabbits from Westwater Middle School, the Spurs would still rival the top brass of the Premier League.
Player most likely to put it in the back of the net:
While the defense is busy with the forwards, Tony takes a nice pass from Manu or Diaw and tips the scales completely.
Most important player:
Timmy would rack up plenty of saves from free kicks and corners. He would have strikers dreading “the moment of truth”. A number of clean sheets would be more than probable.
Most likely to get a Red Card:
Thank goodness MWP is not on this team. Because of his age, Kawhi might be too over zealous of a tackler. Also his position just calls for some unnecessary roughness.
Most likely to get traded:
DeJuan Blair or Boris Diaw
It might come to fruition that two giant players are one too many.
Most likely outcome:
This team gets every trophy available in the EPL, Champions League, and any tournament that is brave enough to admit this team. Spike Lee directs a documentary called “ Spurs Doin’ Work” but through some kind of magic it is automatically changed to “Shaolin Soccer 2”.