Two years ago, I was saddened by the fact that the San Antonio Spurs era with Tim Duncan had come to an end as far as winning NBA championships went. The Spurs loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008 Western Conference Finals was all I needed to see in order to recognize a changing of the guard.
That’s why it came as no surprise when I said the Spurs were done back in February. Anyone should have seen that. The Spurs have grown old, slow and inflexible. Their inability to sustain a consistent effort for 48 minutes and adapt to subtle changes throughout the course of an NBA game are why they ultimately got swept by the Phoenix Suns last night.
So what do you do? What does one do when an era comes to an end?
Then again, what do you do when an era comes to an end for a second time?
Admittedly so, there was a slight rebirth of the Spurs era at the beginning of this season, when San Antonio acquired both Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess. And when the Spurs beat the #2 seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round, many people thought we were going to have a flashback to the 2007 season when the Spurs made a run for the title. So just for a second, a split second, the Spurs era was alive and well.
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However, after four quick games against the Suns, the Spurs are dead again, and this time, there is no rebuilding. There is no fixing up old parts. Anything the Spurs do to build a team around the likes of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will be the equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig. At the end of the day, those two guys are old, and for the rest of their NBA careers, they will play like old players.
In my opinion, it’s time to put this era to bed—for the second time. The Spurs have no more life in them. Jefferson and McDyess didn’t work out. Tim Duncan is no longer better than Amare Stoudemire. Broken nose or not, Ginobili couldn’t score baskets against the defense of the Suns. The only hope for the Spurs right now rests in the hands of Tony Parker and George Hill. Great players, but they aren’t winning any championships. They aren’t taking the torch from Timmy D.
As for the great Spurs coach, Greg Popovich, maybe he’s not what he once was either. He made several tactical errors in this series against the suns, errors we don’t usually associate with Coach Popovich. His reluctance to start veteran Tony Parker against Steve Nash was costly. His insistence on switching on pick-n-rolls was a defensive mishap of grandiose proportions. And his role in letting Manu Ginobili operate as a facilitator and not a scorer really hurt the Spurs ability to score efficiently and effectively.
Let’s not forget the Spurs were the #7 seed in the Western Conference. Even though it is impressive that the Spurs won 50 games with their big three in and out of the lineup, seventh place is still seventh place.
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It was a good run. It was a good decade. It was a great time. Over the last 12 seasons, we saw the San Antonio Spurs win a third of the NBA championships, and 4 out of 9 to be more specific. Tim Duncan was the catalyst behind all of it. He was the guy that got it started, and he was the guy that finished it off. He’ll go down as one of the greats, and the Spurs of the 2000’s will go down as one of the winningest collection of players of all-time.
Now it’s time to say goodbye. It’s over. The era’s at an end. And boy did it end with a thud. But that doesn’t undo everything they’ve done in the past. It just makes us respect them even more for how long they were doing it.
[[This article originally appeared on thesportswatchers]]