Sports

Spurs Settle Dynasty Debate With Fifth Ring In Duncan-Popovich Era

| by Jonathan Wolfe

For the fifth time in the last 15 years, the Larry O’Brien trophy will call south Texas home.

The Spurs championship-clinching win last night left no doubt in the minds of basketball fans who the best team in the world is – and it’s not even close.

The Spurs didn’t just win this series. They completely dominated it. Miami could only try to keep up as the Spurs masterfully passed, defended, shot, and schemed their way to a fifth title in the last 15 years. LeBron James and co. kept it close as times, but those times were far and few between. The Heat simply ran into a basketball machine far too powerful and polished for them to keep up with. They knew it, too.

“They played exquisite basketball this series,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They are the better team. There’s no other way to say it. They played great basketball, and we couldn’t respond to it.”

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After the game, Manu Ginobili – who threw down a dunk last night that no man with 36-year-old legs has any business doing -- spoke about his teams unrelenting play throughout this series.

"We played at a really high level, defensively and offensively, making the moves, attacking the seams," Ginobili said. "Everybody contributed. It wasn't about Tim Duncan or Tony Parker. It wasn't about Kahwi (Leonard) or Danny Green. It was about team, and that's what makes it so, so nice."

All the debate over whether the Spurs run over the last decade-plus qualifies them as a dynasty needs to stop. Now. Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili have more playoff wins than other trio in NBA history. The Spurs have made the playoffs in 17 straight seasons, in which their “low point” – if you can even call it that -- was a 50-win season in 2010. The Spurs are a basketball machine that has dominated the league with five titles in the last fifteen years. If all of these accomplishments don't collectively constitute a dynasty, what does? That debate should be over.

One of the best parts of this championship for San Antonio has to be its implications for the future. This wasn’t a team of wiley old veterans stringing together one last series. Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker were flanked by a full squad of young, hungry players who look eager to ensure the Spurs are just as dominating a force for the next 10 years as they were for the last 10.

On a team with multiple future hall-of-famers in their 30’s, it was 23-year-old Kawhi Leonard who was the team’s MVP. The emergence of a new wave of young Spurs talent sends a loud and clear message to the league that this team isn’t about to ride off into the sunset. It looks like the prolific Parker-Duncan combination is set to make a seamless transition to the Parker-Leonard era

Not that San Antonio’s veterans plan on leaving, though. Here’s what Tony Parker had to say about the incredibly successful run Popovich and Duncan have strung together over the last decade and a half.

“It will come to an end but I don’t think next year,” he said. “I think everybody’s gonna come back.”