You Have to Respect Old Man River

This year’s NBA playoffs were nothing short of maniacal. I can’t remember another playoff season in history that contained a series where many sports journalists and analysts (who I didn’t really disagree with) picked a series to go seven games after consecutive margins of defeats of 27 and 28. But then again, nothing about the Thunder or the Warriors really screamed conventional. It’s also obviously the first time in NBA history where a team came back from being down 3-1 in the NBA Finals to win the series, nonetheless over the team who had the best regular season record in NBA history. This unfortunately solidified the Warriors in memeland as being the New England Patriots of the NBA; for their sake hopefully they can recover.

Anyway, there was one team in the NBA playoffs that was rightfully and quickly forgotten. Anyone who reads this will have to forgive me, as I intended to post it like a month ago when the wounds were still fresh. But, I think you’ve probably seen enough shirtless pics of J.R. Smith and Instagram posts from Lebron to last a lifetime, so maybe talking about something else NBA-related will not be the worst thing. After these playoffs finally came to a close, I couldn’t help but think of one team that I never thought I would be disappointed to not be coerced into watching into June: the San Antonio Spurs.

What can be said about the San Antonio Spurs? They are like the anti-NBA: boring, overly-structured, old, and not flashy, not in your face. They’re just kind of… conventional? Would that be the right word to describe them?

I remember getting Sports Illustrated for Kids cut-out posters in the late 90’s with players like Kobe, Jerry Stackhouse, Grant Hill, Iverson, and Duncan? Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Tim Duncan played with David Robinson and against MJ and Scottie. He really has been around that long. Unfortunately, he gave us a reminder this playoff season, as his jumper looked like more of a flat-footed shot put than a jumper worthy of one of the greatest players of all-time.

Fear not. I won’t hate on Tim Duncan. Why would I? I mean for the longest time the Spurs as a whole were one of the easiest teams to hate due to consistently-grumpy snarling dog Poppovich and his clan of white guys and black guys that kind of played like they were white. A few years ago I did learn to respect the Spurs though, and it wasn’t just because they were the only threat of stopping the Lakers in the Western Conference during the mid-2000s, but because they kind of played the game the right way. They weren’t going to leave you rolling your eyes after press conferences (with the exception of their coach). They weren’t going to almost run journalists over in their Bugattis as they exited arenas; and that’s still personified by their new star who drives a ’97 Blazer even though he has enough money to live like a king for the rest of his life without ever working another day.

The Spurs are the last remnant of the olden days of the NBA. They’re the only dudes around that can remind us of the days before flopping, extravagance, ridiculous max contracts, everything being a foul, and super teams. Call me a young man trapped in an old man’s body, but I miss the NBA of the 90’s. I miss the grit and even the dirty plays. I miss the outlandish Dennis Rodman’s of the world.

But at the same time, we can’t forget about the Tim Duncan’s of the world, especially in this season that just ended which saw the most prolonged farewell tour ever, followed by one of the most narcissistic players in the world winning the title. (Call me a hater and I’ll only agree with you, even though I did gain a lot of respect for what Lebron did this season.) Tim Duncan truly is a legend. He’s won multiple rings and never once made it about himself. It was always about the team. Tim Duncan was a back-to-back MVP and a 15-time all-star, although you wouldn’t know it by looking at him. A quick glance at Wikipedia also reminded me that Duncan stayed in college for all four years in an era where ALL of his peers were coming straight out of high school. While the Spurs could be classified by some as conventional, Timmy is anything but.

There’s a word that’s been thrown around a decent amount this season. It’s just been attributed to the wrong player; and I know it’s not very realistic to expect many more Tim Duncan’s to come around, but then again, he is a once-in-a-generation player.