It’s a shame the Spurs lost last night. No, I didn’t want to see a sweep, and yes, I’d rather see OKC in the Finals anyways. But that San Antonio winning streak was fun while it lasted, even if no one realized it was going on. If the Lakers or Heat or Knicks or a number of other popular teams had won 20 games in a row this year, it would’ve made for the biggest story of the entire season. There would be magazine covers, ESPN specials, nightly trackers, and basketball fans all over the planet would be gushing at how unbeatable they looked. But with the Spurs, the only people who seemed to care were the stat nerds, who continuously pointed out that this team – and this winning streak – was one of the most dominant in NBA history. The crazy part about it is it almost didn’t happen. Shouldn’t have happened.
The Spurs decided long ago they’d never trade Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili seemed poised to end his career along the Riverwalk. But Tony Parker had been involved in trade discussions before, and last year after Ginobili’s wrist injury was a key part of their surprising first-round loss against Memphis, San Antonio’s brass decided they needed to finally make a change.
The New York Post writes:
Spurs management called around the league to let the right people know that every player was touchable, exempting Tim Duncan. Owner Peter Holt, team president/coach Gregg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford were committed to honor Duncan’s reign of scandal-drama-free excellence (four titles) over 14 seasons until he decided not to play for pay anymore.
Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, I must reemphasize, were available for the appropriate equity.
The Celtics never traded Rajon Rondo, but they tried. And, luckily for Celtic fans, they failed. The same thing happened to San Antonio. No deal came along that appeased them, and instead, they came back to the abbreviated season this year with basically the same roster (outside of the swap of George Hill for the No. 15 pick, which became Kawhi Leonard).
If the Spurs had re-armed this summer, no one would’ve batted an eye. They were five years beyond their last championship, and you couldn’t find a soul in America who would’ve predicted they’d go on to win 20 straight games this year, including the first 10 of their postseason run. Instead, they kept the team together out of a last resort, and now look like the runaway favorites to win a fifth championship in the Popovich/Duncan era.
Should Parker, Ginobili and Duncan all retire in San Antonio?
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