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Which San Antonio Spurs' Legacies Were Most Damaged by NBA Finals Loss?

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2016

Which San Antonio Spurs' Legacies Were Most Damaged by NBA Finals Loss?

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    Gregg Popovich is as good a coach as you can find in the NBA today, but his legacy took a hit after Game 7, as did the rest of the star players on the San Antonio Spurs.

    28 ticks of the clock would have turned Popovich into one of the four best coaches in NBA history beyond doubt, joining Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach and Pat Riley. 

    Beyond that, Tim Duncan would have easily become known as the best player of the post-Michael Jordan generation, giving him an edge on Kobe Bryant.

    Manu Ginobili would have padded his lead as the best sixth man in the history of the game, and Tony Parker would have put a lock-down on being the league's top point guard for the time being.

    For Pop and Duncan it would have been a fifth title, while Ginobili and Parker would be up to four apiece. Oh, and Matt Bonner would pick up his second.

    The biggest saving grace for the Spurs is that the series was a close contest. It was about as close to a seven-game tie as you could imagine.

    However, everybody took a little hit, but whose hit was the biggest?

5. Danny Green

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    Through five games, Danny Green looked to be the favorite for the NBA Finals MVP Award if San Antonio could have mustered another win.

    Green had 25 three-pointers through those first five games, the record for the most long-balls in an NBA Finals, and time to pad the lead with a few more open shots.

    Unfortunately, Green made just one of his five three-pointers in Game 6, and one of six in the final game of the series.

    He went from having the greatest, series-changing shooting shows in the history of the league to falling down in the final two games.

    While history is going to remember him for having the best five-game shooting stretch in finals history, it's also going to remember the shooting coming in a losing effort.

    It's definitely a step up from his D-League basement a few seasons ago, but the bright light he's now basking in could have been much brighter.

4. Manu Ginobili

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    Manu Ginobili was a full-fledged starter for less than half of his career, and an excellent sixth man during the rest of his time with the Spurs, which could be coming to an end sooner than we expected.

    In his days as the San Antonio sixth man, Ginobili was constantly in the running for the Sixth Man of the Year Award, and won it in 2008.

    Generally speaking, players don't remain among the league's best sixth men because they become starters, which is true in Ginobili's case.

    However, he happily bounced back to the bench and got back into his sixth man groove several times after being the team's full-time shooting guard in 2005.

    This finals was rough for Ginobili, shooting 43 percent and scoring 11.6 points per game, and his Game 6 was one of the worst he's ever played.

    Looking back in a few years might give him a bit of a reprieve, however. His age definitely played a factor in his poor play, as did the constantly-injured status that he resides in.

3. Tim Duncan

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    It was Tim Duncan's time to claim the title of best post-Jordan player over a sustained period of time with a fifth NBA Championship, and perhaps a fourth NBA Finals MVP Award.

    The only problem is he missed a scoop-hook to tie the game in the waning seconds of Game 7, LeBron James went to the other end and put the Heat up by four points and that was the end of it.

    It's almost painful to think of Duncan losing a series, especially after he averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds on 49 percent shooting, numbers that have stayed steady for over a decade now.

    Even more painful, his defining moment wasn't Game 6 when he led the game with 30 points, giving the Spurs a championship. It was a missed shot that he seems to make 99 times out of 100, frittering away a Spurs championship.

    Duncan is 37, so history is going to be kind to him for this one. But if he would have hit that shot and led San Antonio to that fifth title, his legacy would have gone up to legendary heights.

2. Gregg Popovich

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    Only four men in the history of the NBA have won five championships as a head coach: Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson, John Kundla and Pat Riley.

    Popovich was very nearly the fifth.

    A few too many flubs over the course of two games did Pop and his Spurs in.

    Tim Duncan wasn't in for want of wing defenders in the waning seconds of Game 6, leading to a huge offensive rebound by Chris Bosh and the Ray Allen three-pointer to tie things up.

    Tony Parker missed out on key possessions in Game 7, sitting on the bench as Manu Ginobili turned the ball over.

    Despite hitting his jump shots, LeBron James remained open on the three-point line, all according to Pop's game plan. 

    We can go back and look at the decisions he made over the course of the final two games to pick nits, but the series unfolded because of the players.

    Popovich is still the greatest coach in the NBA today, but it's hard to argue that he's better than Pat Riley.

1. Tony Parker

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    This was Tony Parker's team, it was Parker's season and it was Parker's turn to prove that he really should be considered one of the best point guards of his day.

    Parker was the FInals MVP in 2007 when the Spurs took down the Cleveland Cavaliers. In other words, he was the best player when the Spurs won their easiest championship.

    2013 was his chance to show that he was more than that. Instead he fell apart on the big stage, no better a series than Ginobili.

    In the final two games, Parker shot 26 and 25 percent respectively, shooting San Antonio into a hole in Game 7, and playing with reckless abandon in Game 6.

    He's a guy who was supposed to be the second-best player in this series, but ended up looking rather pedestrian on many occasions.

    Perhaps his hamstring was troubling him more than we'll ever know, but all we can say with certainty is that his final two games of the 2013 season left a ton to be desired.

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