Debunking Biggest Myths Surrounding San Antonio Spurs' 2013 Title Run
The San Antonio Spurs have been subjected to plenty of distortions throughout their long-standing dynasty.
You’ve heard them all before.
Among the top myths: They’re too old. They’re too boring.
However, as the narrative of the Spurs continues to unfold through what could become the team’s fifth championship in 15 seasons, we continue to debunk the many falsehoods that have been tagged to the Spurs.
Release your preconceived notions; this isn’t the Spurs team you thought it was.
The Spurs Are Too Old
The thought of the San Antonio Spurs as an “old team” is embodied by the aged white hair of coach Gregg Popovich.
He’s old; he's 64.
But his long tenure of baggy khaki pants and dark sports jackets doesn’t embody a team, even one with a core that seems to have been around forever, one that was already deemed too old when it last won in 2007.
Tim Duncan is 37 going on great and was an All-NBA first-team selection this season. He continues to do what he's always done, and he is averaging 17.9 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks this postseason.
Tony Parker is still just 31 years old, directly in his prime and sensational this postseason, averaging 20.3 points and 7.6 assists per game as the most valuable player of the Spurs.
If there has been a decline, it’s been in 35-year-old Manu Ginobili, who is certainly seeing the effects of his age in his least productive scoring postseason since his rookie season, at 11.6 points per game. At 26 minutes per game, though, Ginobili is averaging 5.2 assists.
The reason Ginobili’s decline has been nearly irrelevant, however, is because San Antonio is more than its old core of veterans led by its even older coach.
The Spurs have good young talent, including 21-year-old Kawhi Leonard, 21-year-old Cory Joseph and 25-year-old Danny Green. Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal are both 28 years old.
It’s a myth that the Spurs are too old. Their Hall of Famer and sixth man may be old, but the rest of the team—outside of the rarely played 34-year-old Tracy McGrady—is made up of athletic youth.
The Spurs Are Too Boring
A taste is being developed for the San Antonio Spurs as even casual fans gain an appreciation for watching their elegant execution of offense.
In a basketball culture that has forever celebrated the slam dunk, the desensitization to big plays has occurred due to the endless TV highlights and YouTube clips.
The NBA fan is interested in digesting something more sophisticated, and the Spurs’ offense becomes an intriguing point of absorption.
It’s the simplicity of a pick-and-roll executed with a lock-step precision so focused that it’s easy to overlook by the untrained eye. It’s floor spacing and sharing that seems easy by design, yet few teams manage to accomplish it like the Spurs.
The Spurs play quickly, getting the ball up early in the shot clock to begin cycling through their offensive options. It’s the complexities of misdirection and off-the-ball movement that excite a fan geared toward more than just towering slams and three-point shots.
Winning is never boring, and case studies are quickly being compiled to show exactly how San Antonio is doing it again, for what would be the fifth time since 1999.
The Spurs Don't Have a Superstar
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.
The Spurs Aren't Athletic Enough to Keep Pace with a Team Like the Heat
The idea that the San Antonio Spurs aren’t athletic enough may be an offshoot of the myth that they are too old.
Teams are often identified by the face of their organization or style of play, and the thought of Tim Duncan hitting mid-range bank shots doesn’t scream athletic.
The steady feet of Duncan, for as nimble as he can be in his offensive footwork and in his shot-blocking, don't create the same element of athleticism found in a Blake Griffin or Dwight Howard.
But the Spurs’ big man doesn’t set the tone for a team with athletes on the perimeter.
Tony Parker is one of the more underrated athletes in the league. Athleticism doesn’t isolate itself to the rim, and Parker’s lack of dunking can’t be misunderstood as a lack of athletic ability.
Parker is one of the most agile players in the league, and his overall quickness to the basket and vigorous speed around the court is of incredible value. His athletic ability was evidenced through his spectacular final-second shot of Game 1 of the finals.
Kawhi Leonard is the Spurs' most athletic player. A wing at 6'7" and 225 pounds, Leonard is long, quick and strong, and he’s the team’s most athletic offensive finisher. He is also able enough to maintain pace in defending LeBron James.
Danny Green has also displayed enough athleticism this postseason to defend quicker guards like Stephen Curry and now Dwyane Wade.
The NBA Finals have been labeled as the experience of the Spurs versus the athleticism of the Miami Heat. While it’s true the Heat are more athletic, that doesn’t mean San Antonio is without athletes.
Plus there’s Matt Bonner.
The Spurs Lack Personality
Do yourself a favor: Go to YouTube. Type in "San Antonio Spurs commercials."
Turns out, these guys can deliver a line.
The trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili offer the perfect combination of comedic timing and accents in a variety of commercials shown in the Texas area.
Duncan is definitely not a robot. And even if he is, he’s apparently a sarcastic one. It’s hard to catch a camera shot of Duncan on the Spurs’ bench without a nearby teammate chuckling.
It starts from the top, as Gregg Popovich leads the league in witty interviews and caught-on-camera moments.
If you enjoy personality, the Spurs may actually be leading the league.