For all my friends in San Antonio, the dynasty is over. Give up. However, you did have a good run and put together some great teams of the right guys in the right positions to rack in four rings. R.C. Buford and Greg Popovich have done a great job at transferring the power from David Robinson, to Tim Duncan, to Tony Parker. But where do they go from here?
We often joke about the old man Spurs. The fossilized bench of Robert Horry, Brent Barry and Michael Finley was always something to joke about. However, they won. They would have quiet seasons, do surprisingly well in the Silver Boot and go into the playoffs hot. From 2000-2009 the highest seed they started the Western Conference playoffs in was third. That was during the 06-07 season. They went on to sweep Lebron and the Cavs in the finals that year.
A combination of defensive specialists in Horry and Bruce Bowen mixed with the offensive preciseness of Parker, Barry, Manu Ginobili and Michael Finley made this team dangerous on both sides of the ball. In addition, Tim Duncan provided a solid support and Popavich outcoached nearly every other coach in the league. Unselfish play and smart players characterized this team (though dirty at times: Horry and the hard foul on Nash in the 07 playoffs and Bowen’s cheap shots).
The team looked perfect. That ended in 06. The Mavericks, led by Avery Johnson and Dirk Nowitzki’s fade away, defeated the Spurs in game seven just to go on and do what we aren’t going to talk about right now. They came back the next year but didn’t have to face the Mavericks. It has been reported that several members of the Spurs’ roster personally called members of the Golden State Warriors to thank them for defeating the Mavs in the first round.
It wouldn’t be the same for the Spurs. They lost to the finals bound Lakers the next year before loosing 4-1 in the first round to the Mavs in 09. This season, they are looking at the No. 7 seed. This is their worst playoff spot since they didn’t make the playoffs back in the 96-97 season.
This past offseason, they made a very questionable pickup in Richard Jefferson when you consider their previous theme of unselfish play. R.J. is having the worst year of his career since his rookie season. Scoring is down, assists are down and so are his rebounds. He just can’t figure out how to fit into the Spurs’ offense and just looks lost on the court at times.
They have good young guys but the team cohesion seems off. George Hill and DeJuan Blair are very talented but I would like to see them more. They are the future of the Spurs, not Keith Bogans and Antonio McDyess. In addition, either the starters show up or the bench does. It’s never both.
Tony Parker is starting to show that flopping around has its price. He is out right now with a broken bone in his hand and has missed spurts here and there in the season with various other injuries. Floppers don’t last and the refs have tightened up how they call games with Tony flying around all over the place.
Lastly, the Popavich and Duncan era will end soon. Spurs fans know this and are waiting for the day. If any season should convince them it’s time to throw in the towel, this is the one. They are entering the playoffs with a terrible seed with Memphis drooling over the playoffs and Portland begging not to have to face the Lakers in the first round. This postseason won’t fair well for these Spurs with the possibility of series starting out in Dallas, LA or Denver. They only have two wins on the season against these three teams.
With a good core of rookies and two legends on the way out, why not start over. Of their 20 remaining games, thirteen are against playoff bound teams with one against Memphis, which will be trying to make a move for the postseason. They will not have Parker back until mid-April and no matter how much I love George Hill, he cannot bear the burden of taking this team into the playoffs. It’s time to bite the bullet and accept the fact that they need to start over with a new coach, new players and a new way to enact the system that has made them so successful over the last ten years.