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The future of the Spurs through the lens of Keldon Johnson

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The stoic, unassuming Spurs may be a thing of the past.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at San Antonio Spurs Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not gonna lie, every time I saw Draymond Green flex, my stomach turned.

What an uncouth move. How full of oneself does a player have to be to pose for the camera.

Then I saw Keldon Johnson do it.

Before anyone snaps a gasket, I am not comparing Keldon to Draymond. What Draymond does is his role in being a showoff. As the third (or fourth) best player on his team, he is making sure to garner some of the attention.

What Keldon does comes from a deeper place.

When Keldon flexed, he didn’t look for the cameras. He didn’t turn to face his opponent. He didn’t seek out fans requesting approval. Keldon is caught up in the moment.

Keldon is continually tapping into his inner Walt Whitman, simply sounding his “barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.” And let’s be honest, it’s hard not to appreciate the depth of the passion when you adore the player.

Johnson’s vocalization of his excitement paired with his raw intensity is the ringing in of a new movement in San Antonio.

For the past two seasons, a resounding call for the youth movement has persisted. But along with the youth comes the vitality. An excitement brews and once the sneakers hit the floor, it is apparent the Big 3 era has really passed.

It’s easy to recall the Tim Duncan Spurs being called “boring.” There were moments where Timmy made fun of himself.

But Tim was stoic and methodical when he entered the league. Aging did not increase the Spurs excitement level from a franchise standpoint. The addition of Kawhi Leonard all but ensured the Spurs would never be exciting, passionate, and pumped.

But now the Spurs are helmed by Dejounte Murray. The wiry point guard is unflappable in the face of his opponent, willing to throw the ball down, shake-and-bake, or put his defender on his heels. Defensively, he steals and creates his own highlight reels with regularity.

Lonnie Walker IV’s youth and vitality only heightens Murray’s energy level. His increased intensity ignites a packed arena and motivates his team in one swift, simple movement.

The addition of Johnson, the most frenzied member of the team, leaves Derrick White as the lone throwback to the mellow, peaceful, easy feeling, Duncan-era Spurs and ushers in an almost exclusively clean slate. The sky’s the limit for these striplings.

The one major characteristic that defined the personality (outside of consistency and championship pedigree) of the San Antonio Spurs has been altered. It’s quite an embraceable attribute as the Spurs look to claim a new generation of fans, step back into the limelight under a new legion of players and personalities, and make a long-term plan to earn their first title without the titular superstar.


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