Different Kind of Dynasty
Usually when people speak of sport dynasties, those teams have won a certain number of titles in a short time frame, usually 4-5 years. But then you have those ones that can dominate a decade, something like the Lakers did in the 80s. Those are different kind of dynasties, to win for that long, be consistent, and also keep your core players together is not an easy feat. Not many teams have reached that plateau, time to add the Spurs to the that list.
I said all postseason long that the Spurs were hungry for the Heat. After what I thought was their last run at a Finals last year, they come back this season finishing with the best record in the NBA, winning 60 games, made it through a very tough Western Conference, called out the defending champs, and beat them in 5 games. And it wasn't like the Spurs made any big time acquisitions last off-season, they let go Gary Neal and gave Patty Mills some added minutes. Other than that, you are looking at the same team from last year. And not only did they beat the Heat, they embarrassed them. The final 3 games of the series ended in blowouts, 2 of which were on the Heat's home court. For that I give credit to Coach Pop, the mastermind behind this 5th championship.
Pop's best decision in the Finals was starting Boris Diaw in game 3. Putting Diaw in the lineup really change the dynamics of this series because the Spurs became a much better passing team with Boris in the paint. Decisions like that are what make a coach great and better than most. This isn't nothing new though, Pop has been doing this for years. Unlike most coaches who are sometimes put into a good situations with great players, Pop actually coached his up. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginoboli, and Tony Parker will all be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and all three can thank Pop for making them into that. I can't think of another coach that coached their hall of famers from the very beginning. You would have to go back to Red Auerbach with the Celtics back in the 50s and 60s.
Still, it must be nice to have 3 players with an unlimited upside. As old as they might be, they still know how to get it done. Timmy D without question is the anchor of the Spurs big 3 but Manu and Tony are the engine that keep the ship going. Tony Parker had a great series last year in the Finals while Manu struggled, but both showed up this year. Manu didn't put up monster numbers, only averaging 14 points and 4 dimes, but his presence was much more felt. His shooting percentage went up from 43% to 50% and he was more protective with the ball. Parker came into the series with hamstring issues but still managed to put 18 points a game, Manu took over the role of running the offense and penetrating the paint, while Tony showed off his shooting ability.
Where do you put Timmy D on your all time list? Prior to this 5th title he was already in my top ten, now I have to bump him up a couple of notches. When you put Timmy D numbers up against the greatest to ever play, it's not many you can say are better. Even 16 years in at the age of 38, the oldest player on the court, he can still give you 15 and 10 in the NBA Finals. He controlled the paint and like I said, was that anchor you need to win an NBA title. His 15 years between his first title and this one is second behind Kareem Abdul Jabbar who saw 17 years between his first and last title.
As great as the big 3 are they still needed help from their young boys. Kawhi Leonard had two bad games this series, game 1 and game 2, but after that he was the best player throughout the series. He outplayed LeBron for 2 games in Miami and matched his efforts in the series clinching game. Last season Kawhi averaged 14 points and 11 boards in the Finals last year so this wasn't nothing surprising from the young boy. The only knock against Kawhi last year was that he missed the free throw in game 6. But like I said, he and the rest of the Spurs were hungry and thirsty for revenged. Kawhi accepted the challenge of matching up with the best player in the world and probably played the best defense we seen all season on LeBron. We are looking at the future of Spurs basketball.
Spurs have now won 5 titles in the last 15 years with the same coach and 3 core players. Reason why I say this is a different kind of dynasty is because they never 3-peated but their run has lasted for a very long time. For 17 consecutive years the Spurs have made it to the playoffs and for 17 years they never had win percentage less than 60%. 16 times they won more than 50 games and 4 times they won 60 games or more. This is a long lasting dynasty, even in a rebuilding stage, the Spurs still are one of the best teams year in and year out. They are the definition of team basketball, and even though they have 3 future hall of famers, all 3 sacrificed their numbers for the team, Manu even coming off the bench. I don't know whether or not this could be it for the Spurs dynasty because I thought it was over last year. For now, we'll just have to wait and see.