Sure, Amber flirts with other guys during their fleeting moments of popularity and occasionally one of them will be lucky enough to take her home. But even when she was with Swag King, (the Heat) the Hollywood Douche, (the Lakers) or even the Foreigner (the Mavericks), something was off. As much as they tried to tempt her, her heart still belonged to the complete package. The man who knew exactly what it took to win her over again and again. Sure, he has made mistakes and squandered opportunities with her, but when they were together, as much as the other guys hated to admit it, it just felt right.
There’s a reason that every troublesome role player finds his home, every high potential rookie works out, and every broken down vet has a career renaissance when they come to San Antonio. The Spurs understand that basketball demands more than shoving talented players out onto the floor and hoping for the best. The Spurs, like every great team, understand that playing championship basketball requires each player to sacrifice their personal desires for the good of the team.
Although the Spurs have been blessed with the transcendent talents of Robinson, Duncan, Manu, and Tony, it’s what they have done with their role players that sets them apart. They take special care in assembling their teams to ensure that their players play to their strengths and nothing more. This can be seen with Stephen Jackson, Gary Neal, George Hill and countless others who have been abandoned by other franchises only to thrive in the black and silver.
The Spurs are less of a collection of individual talent and more of a single evolving organism that can adapt to whatever the basketball climate may be. They started out relying on the Twin Towers of David Robinson and Tim Duncan and won a title by overwhelming other teams with their superior size and strength. Then as Robinson faded, Duncan became the focal point of the team, anchoring the defense and centering the offense. The Spurs developed a whirring attack using the wily styles of Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker to compliment the post dominance of Duncan. Duncan’s consistency allowed Manu and Tony to experiment and develop into the once-in-a-generation players that they are today. Finally as Duncan has aged, the Spurs offense now relies heavily on Tony’s ability to break down defenses. When Parker blasts by his man, the opposing defense is forced to react, opening up a passing lane, which in turn opens up another, and another, and when the defense is in shambles, the Spurs score the inevitable basket, completing the performance art that is their offense.
This season, after a heart wrenching defeat to the Heat in the Finals, which would have lead a lesser team into dysfunction, the tenured professors of the NBA have been holding office hours all season.
Tim Duncan, as per usual, is playing as though he bathes in the fountain of youth while attached to the Na’vi’s Tree of Souls. Tony Parker is slicing up defenses we mortals consider to be formidable. Manu is still making plays that only he is insane enough to try and talented enough to complete. Kawhi Leonard has been superb in his swiss-army knife role and Boris Diaw plays exceptional basketball for a man with the body of a retired police chief. Matt Bonner is still knocking down threes and Patty Mills is only the latest journeyman to become relevant after entering the Spurs’ career rehab program. Tiago Splitter has added a few offensive wrinkles to his game, Marco Bellinelli is having a career year, and Danny Green remains deadly from three. Coach Popovich has conducted this orchestra to the tune of a 60 plus win team, even though everyone called them “too old” about three years ago.
Meanwhile, Miami has been shaky. Indiana’s chemistry is off. Oklahoma City is shallow. The relevant Los Angeles team is unproven in the playoffs. Houston has alpha dog issues. Chicago does not have Rose. Brooklyn is old. Toronto lacks star power. Portland and Golden State are inconsistent. Phoenix and Dallas had fun seasons, but will need several miracles to get past the first round and Charlotte, Washington, and Atlanta should not be in the playoffs in the first place.
The Spurs are the most consistent team we have ever seen in any sport, posting an above 70% winning percentage for a decade and a half. They have been great so long, we have taken them for granted. This year, with the desire to cap Duncan’s legendary career with a title, and the taste of last year’s defeat fresh in their mouths, the Spurs will be adding a healthy dose of contempt to their customary ruthlessness.
They got the talent. They got the chemistry. They got the fire.
And I got them winning the title.
Prom is just around the corner, and we all know who Amber wants to take.
Follow John on Twitter @FlynnDecent