1) Do you ever catch yourself wishing, deep down inside, that Tim and Manu retired after Game 5 so that our final on-court memory of them would be of them winning their final game and going on top a la David Robinson?
Michael Erler: Professionally I'm glad they didn't retire because it'll be a more interesting team to cover. As a neutral outsider, I think it would've made for a nice narrative if they retired, but as Jordan showed, these things don't always have perfect endings and that's fine too. As a fan I'm happy to see them again. All I want, if they're not going to go out on on top, is to please just lose conventionally. Just a regular, routine 4-1/4-2 series loss where nobody does anything heartbreaking and there's no tragic blown play/blown lead, etc. But yeah, 2014 definitely changes a lot of things forever.
Taylor Young: Had they barely squeaked out a Finals victory and looked ugly doing it then yes. But, they both played some of the best basketball of their careers. Manu's throwdown over Bosh made me want to see him play for 10 more years. I would have wanted them to retire in 2013 if they had won Game 7 following the heartbreak of Game 6.
J. Gomez: No. Never. I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority here but I don't need the perfect ending to enjoy something. So if the choice is between no more Tim and Manu or more Tim and Manu, I'm always going with the latter.
Bruno Passos: I must have profound abandonment issues that outweigh any sentimentality. Although I briefly entertained the idea of them retiring on the highest of highs, I'm happy having them around at their current level of play for one more season, even if (gasp) it doesn't end in another title.
J.R. Wilco: I can't imagine what it's going to be like after they go, so I want to delay that date a long as possible. Going out on top last year would've been great, but not as great as going out on top after finally repeating.
2) Jim Boylen was the lead assistant last season and things seemed to work well enough, the team won a title. Then Ettore Messina was hired and the press have already christened him as Pop's successor. Can you imagine any behind-the-scenes friction on the bench between Jim Boylen and Messina?
Erler: I can imagine friction, but they're pros and they'll keep it hush hush and behind the scenes. We'll never ever know about it, but if one or the other moves on after this season for a lateral position instead of a promotion a la Don Newman in Washington, well...
Young: I am sure like any workplace there is some competition. But, the reality is that coaches in the Pop tree are going to get jobs somewhere around the league. The press won't pay attention to either of them with Becky around next season.
Gomez: I guess it's possible. Ime Udoka might not be thrilled, either. But Messina seems humble enough despite his success to understand that he is the new guy and act accordingly. If push comes to shove and they can't coexist, based on track records I'm taking Messina, for what it's worth.
Passos: To be honest, I haven't paid much attention to what goes on in the background (aside from Chip Engelland's jump-shot sorcery), but I just assume any issues of that nature are screened before someone signs on the dotted line.
Wilco: Pop does such a masterful job of creating an environment where great work gets done, that I can't see something like this becoming a problem.
3) You have only one question you're allowed to ask Pop and he absolutely has to answer it sincerely, thoughtfully and fully, with zero censorship. What do you ask?
Erler: Is there any truth to the rumor that you offered Duncan to the Blazers for the number one overall pick and the rights to Greg Oden?
Young: DID YOU EVER GO UNDER COVER AS A KGB OFFICER?
Gomez: "Were you angry when you got passed over for the head coaching position for Team USA in favor of coach K?" (I don't think he has ever expanded on that and it's probably something he is not happy about.)
Passos: Which makes the best pet: a miniature hippo or a giant corgi? (I just want to see his logic behind it.)
Wilco: If you could change one in-game decision that you've made as coach of the Spurs, what would it be?
4) Same with any current Spurs player. Who is it and what's the question?
Erler: I'd feel a bit creepy, but I'd ask Duncan about the details that led to his divorce with his ex-wife, Amy. What can I say? I'm curious.
Young: To Kawhi Leonard, "Have you been sent here to kill a little boy named John Connor?
Gomez: To Tony Parker, "Do you think you would have been happier having the exact same amount of success playing for a marquee franchise like the Lakers or Knicks even if it meant never meeting Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan?"
Passos: To Tim Duncan: "If you created a comic book character, what would his or her back story be?"
Wilco: To Manu Ginobili, "Would you please let me ghostwrite your autobiography?"
5) What team in a different sport do you root for most passionately and why? Briefly describe your best and worst memory of said team.
Erler: Probably the San Francisco Giants. Best memory would be them finally winning the World Series in 2010 and the worst would be them blowing Game 6 of the World Series in 2002, when they were up 5-0 in the 7th inning and 3-2 in the series. The Philadelphia Eagles have never won a Super Bowl though so I'd like to see them win before any other team I root for at this point, even though I'm ambivalent about football. Oh, of course the Turkish national soccer team winning the World Cup would trump anything, but that's never gonna happen.
Young: The Texans, though nothing compares to my Spurs fandom. However, growing up I was a huge Texas Tech fan and I went there freshman year of college. The Crabtree catch against UT has to be my best non-Spurs sports memory. We camped out for a week, didn't go to class, had front row seats and Crab caught the pass right in front of us. The worst? The Texans constantly disappoint. It's almost comical how frequently they fail in the exact same ways.
Gomez: The glorious San Lorenzo de Almagro of the Argentine soccer league. I'm young enough that I didn't see the team lose its stadium or being relegated (it's not easy being a San Lorenzo fan) so my worse memory is probably this mistake from our goalkeeper from 2008, which cost us a shot a the semis of the Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of the Champions League. And my best memory came a few weeks ago when the team finally won the Libertadores for the first time in its history. Vamos Ciclon!
Passos: My parents are Brazilian, so I catch the national soccer team's games with my dad whenever possible. Watching them win the World Cup in '94 is one of my fondest (and earliest) sports memories. As for the worst? If you watched the tournament this year, that answer should seem pretty obvious.
Wilco: The currently awful Tennessee Titans, who (as the Houston Oilers) were the very first sports team I ever loved. Worst memory: the 2nd half of the 1993 AFC Wildcard game against the Buffalo Bills when they blew a 32-point lead. It'd be bad enough if I'd seen the whole game, but it's even worse than you'd think because I didn't see the first half. I got to my dad's place late and only saw the