Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
There’s often been a sentiment that the San Antonio Spurs don’t have a superstar, at least not one of LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Chris Paul's caliber.
Tim Duncan is thought to be well past his prime. Manu Ginobili is a sixth man. Tony Parker is rarely listed as the best player at his position.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
To understand why the Spurs are great is to understand why one player never stands out too far from the pack. It’s why budding stars like Kawhi Leonard remain virtually hidden among storylines.
When you share the ball like the Spurs do, it’s rare that eye-popping statistics carry superstar appeal.
But don’t let the box score or casual NBA conversation fool you.
San Antonio has superstars.
Duncan, a lock Hall of Famer, may no longer average upwards of 40 minutes per game, but he is equally as efficient in his 30 minutes, and he continues to rebound the ball at one of the top rates in the league.
Duncan is averaging 17.8 points per game this postseason on 50.2 percent shooting. He also averaged 9.9 rebounds per game. He is regarded as the best player at his position—ever.
Ginobili’s career has been as a sixth man with an electric ability to carry the team in given stretches. His reputation is built on his knack for hitting late-game shots. Ginobili popularized the Eurostep and, had he arrived in the NBA at a younger age, his career arc would have been much more memorable. (Watch the younger days of Ginobili and his ability to throw down after spectacular drives.)
He is not the same player he was, but don’t be surprised if Ginobili has more monumental moments this postseason.
The truest of the team’s superstars is Parker, though. His quickness and talent are matched only by his smart drives and sharp cuts. His athleticism is matched with top-tier decision-making, and he’s one of the best point guards in the league.
Watching his play in Game 1, after what seemed like a month of Eastern Conference basketball, was refreshing. His fast pace and ability to run the Spurs’ offensive system is supreme. It's often by this time deep into the postseason that Parker finally gets his due.
Parker’s leadership was caught by cameras in Game 1 when he checked with his coach on a detail before leading a Spurs huddle eager to listen to their on-court general.
That’s as superstar as it gets.