The San Antonio Spurs, and their fans, are the epitome of how a franchise and it’s supporters relish in success year to year. The Spurs, over their journey of championship greatness, have changed it’s personnel as many times a baby has it’s diaper changed during the first year in life. Yet, year after year the Spurs are in the hunt. In the playoffs. And In our hearts they can do it again.
What keeps us fans hopeful? Well Duncan, Parker, and Giniobili have always been the cornerstone. Each year they have produced memorable performances which had us thinking, here we go again. Another trip down the San Antonio River filled with joy, exuberant fans, and a satisfaction that WE, the family of this organized group of staff, players and well wishers come together in a moment of thrilling climax and ecstasy. And OH what a feeling that is. One that never gets old. A feeling that after one, two, three, four championships, keeps it in our desires we thirst for one more.
But what if that doesn’t happen again within our expectations? What if the wheels fall off? Duncan morphs back into a high mileage player that shows his age next season? Ginobili’s struggles in the finals repeat throughout the following season? Parker can not maintain a level of all star performance? And Kawhi Leonard regresses to the means of having such expectation of becoming the savior of the future?
Have the Spurs, this off season, generated enough (better) than who have departed in Gary Neal and DeJuan Blair? There is something to be said for "corporate knowledge" in a system that has historically proven it takes new players time to fully understand and be trusted. Fully be at their best to provide their best. The big three in the past
could did make up for those tendencies of unsureness while the lack of experience of a new player, be they rookies or seasoned vets, took time to manifest into a dependable asset.
And Not Just The Players
Another question regarding the Spurs is not just the players that have left and players brought in as their replacements. The coaching staff has once again changed. And this time, not a medial departure. Right hand man Mike Budenholzer and proven player development specialist Brett Brown have moved on to what they perceive as an opportunity for greener pastures and possible greatness on their own accord in the NBA. Well deserved for them and the problem such greatness as the Spurs (or any team of proven success) has to endure as time goes on. Do the replacements of these fine gentlemen have the same acumen, knowledge, experience, or more importantly...the ability to work with not only the players but Greg Popovich in a way that proved successful as their predecessors?
Last Years Finals Appearance
Last year was the time. The Spurs made it through some injury riddled teams in the Lakers and Warriors before putting to rest the assumption the Grizzlies were a formidable opponent worthy of their unexpected series win against the Spurs just two years ago. Also, the OKC Thunder suffered a major loss of their own when Russel Westbrook was out for the playoffs due to a torn ACL. That would have been an interesting series to witness if the Spurs did play them. But, the Spurs had some luck along with a very formidable and well balanced team which placed them against the odds on favorite Miami Heat in the finals. Game one was one for the history books with Tony Parker sinking a bank shot with time running out to give them a 1-0 series lead on the road. But not surprisingly, the whole series was full of last second heroics and lucky bounces. OK, enough of going over that heartbreak. Maybe the point being made is this...the Spurs were at the pinnacle. They had all opportunity to achieve the goal. Shots not made; Rebounds not garnished; Coaching decisions that may or may not have been correct were decided in the last seconds. But they made it there. They were in it till the very end. Which is far better than many gave any other team facing the Heat.
So again we face a forth coming season. The big three, rightfully so, still in place. Other teams have improved (or so they think in ability to make a difference) their roster. And once again, pundits, seasoned journalists, and the many opinionated bloggers in the vast world wide web will, and have, come to a conclusion about next season. Many think the Spurs let slip away their best opportunity last year, in the waning moments of game 6, and then again, in game seven, to capture their 5th title. But can you count them out next season? If anybody has learned like I over the past 35 years of following a team is this...you can never count the Spurs out. It’s the beauty of this franchise. Will they have the same chemistry being some players have left? Will the new players adjust sooner than a two year window? Will a new coaching staff have the same impact as the one’s who parted?
For great teams....that’s where they go from up. They find a way to improve, or in the least, remain competitive. There is nothing I’ve seen that has made them worse compared to last season. So...hope springs eternal being the Spurs, over the past 12 years, have given no reason to doubt.
What you say pounders? Still of the faith? Or believe their opportunity vanquished after game 6 of the finals?