Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

June 17, 2014

Spurs could stick around, even if Duncan doesn’t

SAN ANTONIO — Tim Duncan conducted his postgame interview flanked by his two children. Someday soon he may decide that they, and not Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, will be his full-time running mates.

Duncan’s eventual retirement — whether it’s next week, next summer, or after the next championship — probably won’t end what’s been a 15-year run at or near the top for the San Antonio Spurs.

San Antonio appears to be positioned to keep rolling along.

The Spurs looked better than ever in demolishing the Miami Heat in five games for their fifth championship, finishing it off with a 104-87 victory Sunday that set off a horn-honking celebration that lasted deep into the night.

With good players in place and perhaps unmatched leadership at the top that will find more, the Spurs don’t figure to go away, even when their big man in the middle finally does.

“I think I said it many times. There was not one season since I’m in the NBA that I really didn’t truly believe that we could have won it,” Ginobili said. “Every year we were up there. Sometimes we were No. 1 and we lost in the first round. Some other times we were seventh and we had a shot at winning it.

“But playing with the teammates I’ve always played, coached by the guy that is coaching us, I always felt that we had a shot, and I truly never believed it was the last shot.”

This probably wasn’t, either.

True, the 38-year-old Duncan realizes the end is near, though won’t say and perhaps doesn’t know how close it is. Ginobili will be 37 next month and may be entering the last stage of his career as well.

But Parker shows no signs of slowing down, NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard looks ready for an even bigger role, and coach Gregg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford, whom Commissioner Adam Silver called “perhaps the greatest GM-coach combination in all of sports,” have shown they can find good players and make them better once they don the silver and black.

“My secret is these guys behind me, Coach Pop and R.C. That’s my secret,” owner Peter Holt said. “It doesn’t start at the top, it starts with them. And it’s a wonderful group to be with.”

The only prediction about the future Sunday night came from Popovich, and it was about the Heat. Though the former champions are heading into an uncertain summer with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all eligible for free agency, he said Miami would be back.

It wasn’t long ago people had stopped saying that about San Antonio.

Beaten in the first round by rugged Memphis as the No. 1 seed in 2011, the Spurs didn’t look strong enough. Ousted by Oklahoma City the next year after building a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals, San Antonio didn’t seem quick enough.

Yet the Spurs made the necessary tweaks, and when it wasn’t quite good enough last season against the Heat, they came back even more focused and left no doubt this time.

“We’ve adapted and come out here and been able to win another championship,” Duncan said. “So proud. It’s unbelievable.”

Popovich’s ability to manage minutes in the regular season, keeping his stars fresh and providing valuable experience for his role players, could position San Antonio for another lengthy playoff run. But there will be eager challengers ready to pounce, particularly if the Spurs just don’t have the same hunger after being driven through this season by the pain of last year’s finals loss.

Right within their own state, Houston or Dallas could change the balance of power by adding Carmelo Anthony. And of course James could stay in Miami with much stronger pieces around him, or join another club that would become an immediate title threat.

So the league could look very different. But with the Spurs on top again, it sure seems familiar now.

“The Spurs continue to get better. Obviously they kept those three guys intact, but they continue to put guys around them, high basketball-IQ guys around them, high-energy guys around them that fit into the system of what Pop wanted to do,” James said. “Obviously, it’s not just about the Spurs, it’s about the whole league. The whole league is excited about returning next season and we’ll see what happens.”

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • 0728-Lowndes practice4.jpg Vikings working out with padded practice, scrimmage on the horizon

    The look was familiar Monday at Martin Stadium.
    The Lowndes High football team’s conditioning practice was essentially a duplicate of the workouts the Vikings have completed throughout the summer.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thomasville_Ryals.jpg South Georgia special for high school coaches

    Phillip Johnson remembers when he had a “Wizard of Oz” moment.
    The North Carolina native moved to Georgia when he was 26 and Johnson, now Lanier County’s second-year head coach, recalls a 7-on-7 tournament leading to the realization that he wasn’t in Kansas — or in his case, North Carolina — anymore.
     

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Nolin settling in as new VSU soccer coach

    Meet Rebecca Nolin, VSU's new soccer coach.

    July 28, 2014

  • Induction Crowd: Honorees were genuine, down to earth

    More than 48,000 people gathered under the scorching sun at The Clark Sports Center for the 75th National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Sunday, including one woman who carpooled to the event with more than 40 other people.

    July 28, 2014

  • Braves trio all business at inductions

    The Braves seemed almost businesslike in their approach -- something you might expect from a trio that won so consistently.
    Managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa also remained calm and collected throughout their addresses.
    Frank Thomas took care of the emotional side, his voice breaking and his eyes moist during a heartfelt speech Sunday at the Clark Sports Center.
     

    July 28, 2014

  • Cooperstown Merchants: Weekend was a success

    Cooperstown merchants are elated about the exceptionally prosperous Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, several storekeepers said Sunday.

    During an afternoon lull in business, when the National Baseball Hall of Fame's induction ceremony was taking place, area shop and restaurant owners took a quick breath, reflected and expressed satisfaction with their sales for the weekend.
     

    July 28, 2014

  • Hall of Famers thank fathers for stepping up to the plate

    Great ballplayers thanking their dads at a Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is about as original as oil and vinegar are to an Italian restaurant.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hall_Maddux.jpg Hall of Braves

    The weird part was that Jeff Idelson didn't take a lot of time to answer.
    "Is there any word or description that unifies this class?" was the query posed to the National Baseball Hall of Fame's president.
    "The common thread among the six is profound humility," Idelson said of former managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, and former players Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, all of whom will be inducted into the Hall today. "I don't think I realized that fully until I spent time with them in December. It was uncanny to me, for the cumulative star power in that group, the humility among them. I think that's felt really strongly with baseball fans."

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • Hall_Cox.jpg Cox’s willingness to defend players stands out to local coaches

    Bobby Cox will be able to add Hall of Famer to his resume when he is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame today in Cooperstown, N.Y.
    But the former Atlanta Braves manager’s legacy will remain the same to area baseball coaches: his willingness to defend his players.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Valwood_Henderson.jpg Area teams hoping to get over the hump

    Past successes lead to present and future expectations.
    That’s the task faced by pretty much all 12 area high school football coaches present Saturday at In The Game Magazine’s South Georgia Football media day at the Holiday Inn conference center.
    It’s a task that also has the elite group searching for answers as to how to get past the state championship road block in recent years, aside from Valwood’s GISA Class AA crown in 2012.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

Blazers Blog
More