clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Can the Spurs repeat the past?

Gatsby believed that the past could be repeated, but was unable to bring it off. Is that because you really can't go back again? Or was it because F. Scott didn't set his tale in San Antonio?

Do Pop and the Spurs only have memories for us to hold onto? Or is there more magic in the tank?
Do Pop and the Spurs only have memories for us to hold onto? Or is there more magic in the tank?
Jed Jacobsohn

"Jay, you can't repeat the past."

"Can't repeat the past?"


"Why of course you can!"

This was going to be my intro for my followup to my first ever PtR article, planned to post in the aftermath of Spurs' having stolen games 3 and 4 in Oakland. It was all planned out, this clip from The Great Gatsby was going to perfectly capture my point. The theme was set: the San Antonio Spurs were doing the unthinkable and repeating the past. Like those lights across the bay were for Gatsby, the Spurs were shining rays of hope in what so many deemed impossible.

For years, the Haters (aka the Tobey Maguires/Nick Carraways) of the world have been saying that the San Antonio Spurs are too old, too washed up, their swan song was finished long ago. The fat and screaming ladies together have both sung and broken the glass on the Pop/Duncan era in the Alamo City. The past could not be repeated for the Spurs, they couldn't hang another banner.

These critics were especially loud after the Spurs dropped game two to a young darling Golden State team after barely squeaking out game one. The Spurs were headed to Oracle Arena (the Thunderdome of the NBA), the place where no road team comes out alive...the place that destroyed Avery Johnson as a coach. Once again, like in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 the Spurs were done.

But what happened? The Spurs looked to defy the talking heads and critics once again! They came out in game 3 furious and looking like the Championship Era Spurs, not like those-guys-who-got-beat-by-Goran-Dragic. Tony Parker had his guns blazing, Danny Green did his best Bruce Bowen impression, Tim Duncan made timely shots, Manu was Manu and Pop made great adjustments that seemed to choke the life out of those young Warriors.

I was ready to write this article Friday night, I was ecstatic. This had all the resemblance of a 2005 or 2007 Spurs team on the road against Denver. In those years the Spurs dropped a game at home to a lower seed Nuggets, but then went on the road to a hostile environment and played Spurs basketball, sucking the life out of a young team with a young star (Melo) and taking the series in 5. This was indeed a 2005/07 Spurs Team in 2013! We were Repeating the Past. Gatsby was right!

But I refrained from writing it then in the wee hours of Friday night, because I knew it would be more effective on Sunday afternoon after we took care of Game Four. My point would be driven home for me with the past repeating itself. We'd be on our way to a Western Conference Finals where Dirk, Kobe, Durant and Westbrook would all be absent and the only thing standing in our way would be a team Tim Duncan would be dying to beat...Memphis. Oh what a story this was going to be, the past repeated...Tobey Maguire and all of the media proven wrong.

There we were, up 80-72 with 4:48 left, the Warriors had no hope. We were on our way to a 3-1 series lead. It hadn't been pretty up to this point, we had missed shots and free throws, but it was the Spurs. Just the way I remembered them, just the way I grew up with them, messy but effective. Gatsby, the old Sport, was right to fly in the face of conventional wisdom. Take that Warriors! Have fun coming back on the Spurs down 8 with four minutes left! Have fun winning game 5 in San Antonio down 3-1! Have fun fishing this Summer, Steph Curry! Have fun asking yourself what went wrong after game two, Klay Thompson!

But that's not what happened.

And here we are, facing game 5, tied 2-2. The Warriors won a game where they shot 38% and didn't score 100 points. The Warriors won a game in which Harrison Barnes missed more shots (17), than any of his teammates TOOK. The Warriors won a game where Steph Curry couldn't move. The Warriors won a game in which Manu Ginobili looked like he drunk from the fountain of youth (for the first half, at least). The Tobey Maguires are back, and the fat lady may be revving up to sing the boys in Silver in Black goodbye again. And Gatsby looks like the delusional jackass F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote him to be, for making me believe the past could be repeated.

But, could Gatsby still be right after all? Is the history of the past couple of years repeating itself? Are we just being the non-Championship era Spurs? Are we letting a younger and more athletic team snatch victory out of our hands like the Lakers did in 2008? Are we running out of gas because of injuries like we did to Dallas in 2009? Are we letting close games slip away as the Goran Dragices/Harrison Barnes of the world beat us like in 2010? Are we a fools gold team who was only built for the regular season like the media like to think we proved to be against Memphis in 2011?

Do we have all the desire in the world, but not enough talent once again like last year against OKC? Are the Spurs simply a shadow of their old selves with enough competitiveness and a good enough system to get there, but not enough left to finish the job? If the Spurs drop another game in San Antonio or even if they squeak this series out and get dominated by Memphis once again, the Spurs of late will be repeating history and the door really will be shut.

I hope that's not the case. I hate that since 2008 I feel like the life of the Spurs fan is comparable to the people who thought the Leprechaun was in their tree. We want to know where the gold at, but the gold isn't there and the gold hasn't been there for sometime. We are disillusioned by the former glory of the Spurs and can't accept the fact that their time may be done. I was sad watching Manu go off on Sunday. I said to my dad, whom I've loved the Spurs with since I was 9: I don't want to not watch these guys play basketball, I don't want to stop watching them defy the Fat Lady. I want to see more Ginobili weaves and slashes, more Parker spins and floaters, and more Duncan steps and banks.

I want Gatsby to be right. I want Danny Green or Gary Neal or Cory Joseph to have a Sean Elliot, Robert Horry or Steve Kerr moment. I want Boris Diaw to feel like Kevin Willis did. I want Kawhi Leonard to grow into Manu. I want this series to be the old past, the good past repeating itself. I want this to be the Spurs team that lets a young team hang around for a while only to crush them (e.g. Phoenix '03, Denver '05/07, Seattle '05). I want to get revenge on Memphis (or OKC) next round like we got on the Lakers in 03. I want to beat Miami in the Finals and beat the Champs again like we did to Detroit. I want to beat LeBron in his prime and watch Tim Duncan smile with the Trophy (knowing he beat the King twice). And I want to see Pop let loose and give his players bear hugs. In short, I want Gatsby to be right.

Please, History, repeat yourself like that.