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The End For San Antonio?

The San Antonio Spurs may or may not be preparing for their final game of the season tonight at AT&T Center. The defending champions trail 3-2 against the New Orleans Hornets and need to win the next two games or prepare to hand off the Larry O'Brien trophy to one of the six remaining teams in the playoffs.

That isn't bad news to most people I know. I've had a number of conversations in the past few weeks with people who are rooting heavily against the Spurs and hoping that they won't advance against the Hornets.


You don't want us gone, do you? (REUTERS/Sean Gardner )

Most of the complaints center around wanting too see some new blood. Some folks think the Spurs - Bruce Bowen, in particular - are dirty. But the primary reason they give for not wanting to see the Spurs anymore is based on a common theme that I believe is based mostly on perception than reality: The Spurs are boring.

You've heard it before. Heck, I've written it before. After the Spurs defeated the Phoenix Suns in the conference semifinals last season, I wrote that the fun was gone from the postseason. And it was.

The teams that make it to the conference finals and the NBA Finals are the ones that play suffocating defense, and unfortunately, that usually leads to a championship series with few games reaching triple digits. Plus, we all know that defense it not entertaining.

That being said, the Spurs are not boring. They are anything but. How can a team with two of the 10 most exciting players in the NBA - Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili - be boring?

I can't think of a player who gets from the three-point line to the rim faster than Parker. When he lowers his head and decides to accelerate, there really is no stopping him. It's a thrill to watch when he gets on a roll.


No, Eva. Not you, too.(Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

Ginobili is what you get when you mix a running back with tornado. He runs and twists into the lane, spinning and bouncing off of people. He's also left-handed which makes his drives even more unorthodox and unpredictable.

If you had to list the 10 most exciting players - and this is strictly from an entertainment standpoint - in the NBA, it would go something like this, in no particular order: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Steve Nash, Dwyane Wade, Allen Iverson, Chris Paul, a healthy Gilbert Arenas, Parker, Ginobili and either Josh Smith or Monta Ellis. I might be missing somebody, but that's just off the top of the dome.

But the reason why most casual fans consider the Spurs boring is because they have the most unassuming superstar ever in Tim Duncan. He rarely lets people who aren't close to him inside his personality. I've been around him in smaller settings and I've found him to be pretty hilarious.

I remember going to San Antonio during the preseason before the 2006-07 season, and Tim was in rare form. He answered every question with a funny joke. I asked him about why the Spurs have such great chemistry and he told me it wasn't true.

"We fight all the time," Duncan said, without changing his expression. Then he said that he duked it out with Tony Parker the night before and gave him a black eye. "You see that he didn't do media today."

He kept a straight face the entire time.


I'm really funny, people. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

One of my favorite stories about Duncan was when I was covering the 2004 Athens Olympics. I was talking to Duncan one-on-one and right in the middle of the conversation, he stopped, started picking up his shoes and sweats and scooting away.

He didn't say, "I have to go." Or "I'm done." He just stopped talking and jetted. I thought that he was upset with my line of questioning - since Team USA didn't really represent in getting the bronze that summer - but when I turned around, I saw about five reporters and a TV camera headed towards his chair. He was cool just talking to me, but he didn't want to do the group session.

Since Duncan isn't willing to be much more than the Big Fundamental and destroy opponents in his methodical fashion, the Spurs are branded as dull. It's evident by the terrible ratings whenever the Spurs reach the NBA Finals. I've covered their past three trips and I will admit, those series against New Jersey (2003) and Cleveland (2007) were horrific to put it lightly. But I can't think of a more thrilling three-game run than the end of that Spurs-Pistons series in 2005.

I also think the Spurs have been a part of two of the best playoffs series in the past three years - the seven-game Western Conference semifinal against Dallas in 2006 and the six-gamer against Phoenix last year.

I'm not writing this because I think the Spurs are done tonight - or in this series. I still think that they are the champs until they've been knocked out and the referee signals that it's over. I just think that folks should have a greater appreciation for this team and its ability to play and succeed playing every style imaginable. It's not their fault that the final rounds come down to defense - okay, maybe it is a little, but that's only because they do such a great job of shutting down their opponents.


You got what I want Tony and Tim. I'm coming after you. (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

But given the Spurs' playoff history, it shouldn't be a shock if they take a bow against New Orleans. Here are some interesting numbers to consider.

The Spurs have never won a championship in an even numbered year (thus, no back-to-back titles).

The past three times they won the championship, the Spurs were eliminated in the second round the next season (in 2002 and 2004 against the Lakers and in 2006 against Dallas; in 2000, the Spurs lost in the first round because Duncan was out with a knee injury).

They have never come back to win a series after trailing 0-2. It's happened four times before and in each instance, their opponent went on the win the NBA championship.

The Spurs are 4-6 when facing elimination in the Tim Duncan era.

San Antonio is hoping that being home will provide a big enough boost, because their play in New Orleans - especially in the third quarter of those games - has been unbelievably bad. They've lost by 19 in Game 1, 18 in Game 2 and 22 in Game 5. Yet somehow, they've whipped the Hornets by 20 in Game 4 and 11 in Game 3.

It's just hard to imagine the defending champs letting their season end in their own building. It should be a fun game to watch.

By Michael Lee  |  May 15, 2008; 3:40 PM ET
 
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Comments

it's about time. I can't stand Ginobli and Parker.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 15, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse

This is CP3 time people! R.I.P. S.A.S.

Posted by: N.O. Way San Antonio | May 15, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

If the Spurs were in New York or Chicago, they'd be the toast of Madison Avenue. They'd be cool. They'd be hot. The problem with the Spurs is location. They play in San Antonio. San Antonio ain't cool. No one outside of San Antonio really cares about them. But I love Timmy!

Posted by: Duncan Donuts | May 15, 2008 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Mike, you left some big names off of your 10 most exciting players. How could you forget about Jason Kidd and Vince Carter? Are they too old for the list? You have Nash and Iverson, but no Kidd and Carter?

Posted by: njnet(s) gains | May 15, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

The Spurs don't look done to me. . .

Posted by: bigups2allmyhaters | May 15, 2008 10:42 PM | Report abuse

the spurs are boring

Posted by: R.L. | May 15, 2008 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, the really looked cooked as they were rolling N.O. by 20 plus.

This has been a weird series. Every game has been a blowout. Logically, the odds favor N.O. at home in game 7, but I wouldn't count the Spurs out.

Posted by: kalorama | May 16, 2008 12:41 AM | Report abuse

I like the Spurs a lot, but sometimes the perception of a stoic and controlled Tim Duncan makes me think these guys don't play with passion. But they must have passion, otherwise would they have won three championships?

Posted by: rgz | May 16, 2008 7:01 AM | Report abuse

"the spurs are boring

Posted by: R.L. | May 15, 2008 11:18 PM "

Spurs could be one of the best teams of all time.

Check the last few champs..Spurs, Pistons, Heat, Bulls, etc...all of their stars play defense and share the ball.

You can dazzle with highlights and game winning shots, but if your stars don't play D, or if there is no team D, then you don't win rings.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 16, 2008 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Reason No. 8,743 to hate the Spurs. Did anybody see Cheap Shot Rob drill David West in his injured back last night? The game was already over. That was terrible. He should be Darius Songaila'd for Game 7! I'm not saying Songaila should've been suspended, but if D.S. got kicked out for an inadvertent tap on LeBron, then C.S. Rob has got to go for an intentional double-elbow shot to an injured player's injury. Boo Spurs, boo.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

I can buy Parker being exciting but Ginobili? No way you can tell me he is more exciting than:

Vince Carter
Andre Iguodala
Richard Hamilton
Chauncey Billups
Deron Williams
Tracy McGrady (healthy)

and that is off the top of my head.

By the way they are normally boring. Yes about once a week they put up 99 but then roll off 3 straight sub 80 point games. Their sub-80 point BORING games not because of defence (not boring) but because they use up the FULL 24 seconds which makes the game take forever.

Posted by: NFeKPo | May 16, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Ginobili is a good player, no doubt, and he is exciting as well. He has the ability to finsh with either hand at the basket. At times during the regular season he was called upon to be THE guy on offense, and he came through, oh yeah, and as a SIXTH man. Yeah, I know he isn't really a sixth man, but he played that role and played it very well.

Having said all that, I loathe Manuel Ginobili. He cries ALL THE TIME. Yeah players whine, gripe, and moan all the time but he does it when he's clearly wrong about the call. And IF you're going to b*tch, at least be a future HOFer. To me guys like Kobe, AI, and Duncan have earned the right to gripe. Manu, not so much.

He also had critical things to say about the way the US plays basketball. I don't remember it verbatim, but it was something along the lines of his team won because they play as a team and American basketball players (Black guys) don't understand that concept. He just appears to be full of himself. To me he is a self indulging, self serving douchebag.

Posted by: I brought you agent dildo and the new Gilturd moniker | May 16, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Cheap Shot Rob
Posted by: | May 16, 2008 8:45 AM

You mean Horry?
He's got 7 NBA rings: 2 with Spurs, 3 with Lakers, and 2 with Rockets.

There must be a reason why he is sought after as a playoffs guy. You're saying he is a dirty player - yes,he's done that sort of thing before. Remember the hard foul on Nash that bloodied his nose?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

hey dildo, if the Argentine team won and the USA lost, there must be a reason - not because Ginobili is full of himself. On the contrary, maybe the USA players were full of themselves and forgot the rest of the world has caught up?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Y;know, I thing Manu does some great contortions around the basket to get the ball in, and plays smart, & is versatile. The flopping is eally annoying when I'm rooting for the other team.
But the thing that bothers me about his offensive game is the same thing that bothers me about watching the LeBaby; they both just kind of run through people on layups sometimes; they are too big for real finesse, they just run into a clogged lane, or run a defender down and knock them over, & get the call. Same with Boobie Gibson in his coming out against the Wiz in the playofs, what was that 2 years ago? Just started driving and jumping into big men's chests.
That's where T Parker and Dwayne Wade (healthy) & start seeming really amazing; splitting teams sprinting around defenders, real finesse, unbelievable athleticism. Anybody can run into somebody under the basket and thrown the ball up.

Posted by: Manu and the charge | May 16, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Can we get some of those boring and cheap shot artist Spurs on the Wizards next season? Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

would anybody else here love to see the Cavaliers have their season end in Cleveland, just like they ended our season in Washington?

Posted by: misguided bullets | May 16, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Totally clean and non issue play by Horry. If David West doesn't want contact, he shouldn't be on the court.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 16, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

As a ball fan and Wiz fan specifically, how great would it be to see the Hornets beat the Spurs and advance? I say that because the Hornets are a team that has all stars at the PG and PF positions and are more of an inside-out team like us. Everyone thinks that you need a dominant big man to win because teams that have one have traditionally had those. The Cavs (though I hate them) are another example of a team that could break the mold . A team with one big star surronded by average complimentary players hasn't been this good since Hakeem (pre Drexler) in Houston or Moses in Houston.
I think that a running team can win the championship and I think that Suns had the right formula but didn't give it a chance this year. If the Hornets get to the Finals, at least everyone would start to think outside the box since all coaches are copycats and emulate what works. I'd love to see a more wide open game rather than the stale defensive minded Pistons/Spurs games.
Break the mold, Ernie and EJ. Lets' do what we did 2 years ago, try to score 110 every night and hope we can keep the opponent at 105. With the athletes on our squad, we'd be able to run with the best of 'em.

Posted by: mark | May 16, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

If we run, all we need to do is worry about rebounding and transition defense. It's much easier than trying to defend guys pounding us down low in a half court set.

Posted by: mark | May 16, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"If we run, all we need to do is worry about rebounding and transition defense. It's much easier than trying to defend guys pounding us down low in a half court set.

Posted by: mark | May 16, 2008 2:29 PM "

What makes you think the other team will run also?

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 16, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

NFeKPo.....what is exciting about Billups or RIP hamilton or anyone on the Detroit team.

Ginobli is more exciting than the entire team put together.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

If you like real basketball instead of one on one garbage, flashy dunks, and fade away 3's with 2 people on you than the SPURS are really exciting. Instead all people want to see is dunks...people like that aren't even real basketball fans.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

"Break the mold, Ernie and EJ. Lets' do what we did 2 years ago, try to score 110 every night and hope we can keep the opponent at 105. With the athletes on our squad, we'd be able to run with the best of 'em."


WOW the only place that will get them is a seat on their own couches come championship time. If you want to win in this league you have to play D. The hornets might run but they play very good D. That is exactly why this lakers team won't win it all. THEY PLAY NO DEFENSE...just like the suns/warriors/nuggets

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm somewhat of a purist and like to see a combination. I use the old Celtics and Lakers as examples. They could prosper in a half court set but still got out and ran whenever they could.

Posted by: mark | May 16, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Mark, the Hornets played at the sixth-slowest pace in the league this year. They play nothing like the Suns.

http://www.knickerblogger.net/stats/2008/o_pace.htm

Don't believe what Reggie Miller keeps telling you.

Posted by: Pradamaster | May 16, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Anon, some of my favorite players include Isiah Thomas and Bernard King. Although B had ups, he displayed real basketball skill rather than just running and dunking. Ike was a beast at penetrating. Same thing with Elvin Hayes and Kareem. The fadeaway and skyhook were classic skillful shots. I just get tired of the same old Bowen/Ginobili/Pistons grabbing,holding and flopping.

Posted by: mark | May 16, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

My bad, Prada. I'm not trying to compare the Hornets to a running team. I probably wasn't clear. I'm just saying that they aren't big man-centric and I like the fact that a team is winning that way. It shows that it can be done and gives us incentive to try something different. We don't have to change who we are (offensively skilled only) to try to fit the mold. Let's go 80's Nuggets and run. (I know it's a bad example. The 80's Nuggets used to lose in the first round every year. But still.....)

Posted by: mark | May 16, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Anon, I think the reason the Hornets have been good in this series on defense is Tyson Chandler. All you need is one guy who'll embarrass you if you come in the middle to deter the opponents. He's covering up for others' mistakes and rebounding well. A guy like that in the middle for us would work wonders. I'm a BTH fan but he's not the defender that Tyson is.

Posted by: mark | May 16, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I guess what I'm proposing is keeping this team together but not trying to change who the guys are. Our big 3 have made their names and fortunes by scoring. I doubt we'll be able to change their games especially since how they have played has led to their success. The only thing we can do is surround them with 2 more guys who complement what they do. In order to win with a core of GA, CB and AJ, we either have to get 2 starters who rebound and play defense very well (and are happy doing it) or cater to our core skills and try to score more.
again, just my opinion.

Posted by: mark | May 16, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

"I'm somewhat of a purist and like to see a combination. I use the old Celtics and Lakers as examples. They could prosper in a half court set but still got out and ran whenever they could.

Posted by: mark | May 16, 2008 2:49 PM "

Hmmm, maybe if the Wiz had someone at the level of Bird, McHale, Parrish, Walton, Magic, or Kareem, but we don't. Also, EJ is not Pat Riley or KC Jones.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 16, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

"Our big 3 have made their names and fortunes by scoring. I doubt we'll be able to change their games especially since how they have played has led to their success. The only thing we can do is surround them with 2 more guys who complement what they do. In order to win with a core of GA, CB and AJ, we either have to get 2 starters who rebound and play defense very well (and are happy doing it) or cater to our core skills and try to score more.
again, just my opinion.

Posted by: mark | May 16, 2008 3:07 PM "

Uhhh, no...

Gilby made his name from scoring, lack of defense, lack of leadership, and self promotion.

Caron made his name from his toughness, ability to score, no fear, and leadership.

AJ made his name from scoring and rebounding.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 16, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Can we get some of those boring and cheap shot artist Spurs on the Wizards next season? Thanks in advance.

Posted by: | May 16, 2008 11:30 AM

Hear hear! LMAO

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

haha, having Bad Bruce or Cheap Shot Rob on the Wiz team would actually give us the big bad menacing team that the Cavs so successfully made us out to be "Daddy, Mommy they're hurting me!"
Our guys are so nice, so soft and so not ready to be tough that they don't know how to get cheap shots in. When they TRY to be tough, they get caught. Face it, we got comedians and guys who enjoy having a good laugh. Yucking it up in the locker room. Heck they even smile and talk to the opposing team while on the court! Garnett doesn't smile, Duncan doesn't smile... talk to the other guys AFTER the game not during the game. Who cares if you're teammates on Team USA or the East All-Stars, you are enemies on the court!

Posted by: rgz | May 16, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Ok, so people are badmouthing the Spurs because they supposedly get rough. What about the Detroit Bad Boys when they won 2 championships? They were even rougher.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 16, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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