Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker win. More specifically, they win playoff games.
It's all they know how to do.
Against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals Monday night, the San Antonio Spurs' Big Three won again. This time, though, their lone victory put them in the NBA record books, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Even now, multiple championships in hand, San Antonio's Big Three is sometimes overlooked. The Spurs themselves are overlooked. But what this Spurs team has done with Duncan, Ginobili and Parker remains incredible.
The trio has been together since 2002-03. During that time, the Spurs have never won under 60 percent of their regular-season games. They've made 12 consecutive playoff appearances. Seven Western Conference Finals appearances. Four NBA Finals appearances.
They've won three championships.
Not to diminish the exploits of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper, but you just don't see that type of sustained success anymore. As Ball Don't Lie's Eric Freeman notes, the Los Angeles Lakers triumvirate did win five championships between 1980-89 and failed to make the NBA Finals just once.
But as he also explains, what Duncan, Ginobili and Parker have done together is arguably more impressive:
Nevertheless, what the Spurs have done is arguably just as impressive, particularly when you consider that Duncan, Parker and Ginobili have been the team's top three scorers for all but their first and most recent two seasons together and figure to team up in at least one more postseason. Plus, their careers have occurred over a period of widespread player movement — it's pretty much unheard of for any three teammates to play together in 12 consecutive seasons.
Of course, this isn't a time for comparisons, or even reminiscing. San Antonio's Big Three is still together. They're still winning.
Following their Game 1 win over Oklahoma City, the Spurs are now just three victories away from their fifth NBA Finals appearance of the Big Three era, which is unequivocally absurd. After all these years, they're still a powerhouse, constantly reminding you that neither time nor conventional wisdom can rattle their cage or fleece them of their dominance.
And they're not done. There's still time for San Antonio's trio to make noise. There's still time for them to win yet another championship.
The future, however abbreviated it ends up being, is still bright.
“We did what we always do,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after Game 1, per the San Antonio Express-News' Jeff McDonald. “At this point in the season you have to be who you are. You can't change your stripes.”
Twelve years into the Big Three era, changing who they are is something the Spurs needn't do.
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