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San Antonio Spurs

Is LeBron James threatening Kobe Bryant’s legacy?

Last season, with the Lakers well out of the playoffs and primary nemeses in the Boston Celtics and Clippers out of contention, I shifted my ire towards the remaining final four teams. Like everything else in my life, my passion was directed against all that may do my beloved Lake Show harm. Contrary to the emotional slings and arrows of my purple and gold loving brethren, I almost didn’t mind seeing a Miami Heat victory in the Finals. But watching another chip going to Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs? Nothing would upset me more.
 
I conveyed my thoughts in a lengthy post, centered around the notion that we as fans should be most concerned about the clear and present danger to the legacy of Lakers and one Kobe Bean Bryant.That of course, was the Spurs.
 
With a fifth title for Timmy and Pop, San Antonio would tie LA for the most chips this millennium and Duncan–with two MVPs, five ‘ships and what would have almost certainly been three Finals MVPs–would supersede Kobe for the informal title as player of his generation. Double stampies, no takebacks.
 
However, thanks to a most unlikely (and mostly hated) source–a Ray Allen three-pointer–the Spurs and Timmy couldn’t add those accolades to the argument. The Miami Heat prevailed in an epic seven-game classic, giving LeBron James and Allen their second titles and Dwyane Wade his third.
 
This year, the conversation should be largely the same for me, no? Duncan has already built his resume to the point where I don’t even know if you could call Bryant the player of his generation anymore, especially after Kobe’s lost 2013-2014 season. Another championship would etch this in stone.
 
As a Kobe Bryant fan, I can’t root for the Spurs in this Finals matchup. On the surface, they are still the clear and present danger to the Lakers (and Kobe’s) legacy. Those things, more than any lingering hatred I have for The Decision, Jesus Shuttlesworth or Wade’s errant elbows, are what dominate the frontlines of my protective basketball fandom.
 
(Silver Screen and Roll has got the rest…)

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A Lakers fan’s guide to rooting in the 2014 playoffs

For the first time in nearly a decade, it’s late April and Lakers fans everywhere have nowhere to be. It’s a strange feeling for a fanbase that hasn’t seen a television set bereft of purple and gold more than a half dozen times in fifty years. Even as I sit and watch these incredible playoffs unfold, with titanic matchups like this spectacular Memphis Grizzlies/Oklahoma City Thunder series or the “no holds barred” battle between the Clippers and Golden State Warriors, I know there’s still a very foreign feeling of basketball emptiness in the hearts of the Lakers fans everywhere.
 
I feel you, brothers and sister. I really do. So what is there to root for? Is there anything to root for? Why should we care after the worst season in Los Angeles Lakers history?
 
Well, that’s why we’re here, kids. After a couple of weeks reconstituting myself from too many minutes of Wesley Johnson throughout the year, I finally recollected all of my hoophead passion and redirected it towards all the hate and bile in my heart. No, there are no Lakers to cheer on this spring. However, that doesn’t mean that Lakers fans don’t have anything to root for.
 
Going through the playoff bracket, I found ways for us to be collectively emotionally involved with hate binding us together. Is this the most positive exercise in the world? No, it’s not. This is pretty much the worst thing we can do karmically. But my friends, the hate will sustain us through the long summer. Let’s hit it: who can Lakers fans root for in these playoffs?
 
(Read on at Silver Screen & Roll)

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“One More Run”, Pt. 17: San Antonio Spurs Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Tony Parker, SG Danny Green, SF Kawhi Leonard, PF Tim Duncan, C Thiago Splitter
 
Key Bench Players: SG Manu Ginobili, PG Cory Joseph, SG Marco Belinelli, PF Boris Diaw, PF Matt Bonner
 
Offseason Additions: Marco Belinelli
 
Offseason Subtractions: G Gary Neal
 
FACT OR FICTION: The Spurs have enough in them for their fifth consecutive “one more run”?

 
FACT. But that’s not the real question.
 
FACT OR FICTION: The 2013-2014 Spurs can’t win a title unless Kawhi Leonard takes a leap.
 
FACT. We saw a little what the Spurs look like with Kawhi Leonard as a borderline All-Star-caliber player in the NBA Finals last season. He dropped 15 points, snatched 11 boards and 2 steals on a .513/.248/.702 slash line in the most pressure packed moments of the season. Leonard did all of this while serving up premium defense, maximum concentration and an eerie robotic calm that belied the fact that he hadn’t even turned 22. He wasn’t the best Spur in the series–that honor goes to the extraordinary Tim Duncan–but he wasn’t that far behind.… Read more...

Kobe Bryant or Tim Duncan: Whose legacy is greater?

One roll of the basketball, and this would be a short article. In an epic Game 7 last Thursday, Tim Duncan had the ball in the post for his San Antonio Spurs, staring elimination in the face. Time was running out–48 seconds to be exact–and the team’s all-time franchise player made his move to the center of the key, and attempted a right hook shot over the 6’8″ Shane Battier that would tie the game. This shot was the very same one he’d make 99 out of 100 times, maybe even 999 out of 1,000 times. But that night, that one odd number seemed to rear its ugly head. The shot rolled off the back iron, into the outstretched fingertips of Duncan, who managed to tip the ball back towards the hoop…another maneuver that’s defined his long career of dominant offensive rebounding. But if the original miss was a 1 out of 1,000 chance, the second shot double downed on bad luck.
 
The ball popped wide over the rim, and Chris Bosh secured the rebound. Seconds later, LeBron James nailed a 19-foot jumper over Kawhi Leonard, and it was all over. Had Duncan’s shot simply gone in moments earlier, the Spurs would have tied Game 7 with two possessions left on the clock. The possibilities were endless…including sealing the argument of who the best player of his generation was. It would have been Tim Duncan. And it wouldn’t have been close.
 
But thanks to that fateful roll, the debate is still wide open. With Tim Duncan performing so admirably on basketball’s highest stage at the age of 37 and Kobe Bryant dragging a lifeless Lakers team to the playoffs this past season, the discussion is just as relevant as ever.
 
Poring over the awards, statistics and team records, these two have some of the most sparkling resumes of all time. Their accomplishments are massive no matter who you look at, and should no doubt result in a top-10 standing in NBA history for both men. In fact, the tale of the tape is so close here that I’m tempted to call it a tie.
 
But this isn’t soccer. This is basketball. We don’t do ties.
 
So, whose career has been greater? Kobe Bryant or Tim Duncan? Let’s break it down piece by piece.
 
(Read on at Silver Screen & Roll!)

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NBA Finals Wrap-Up: Some legacies defined, others left alone

I’m sweating blood, crying stomach acid and secreting brain fluid through my pores. A completely normal reaction considering the seven game gladiatorial brawl we just witnessed over the past two weeks.
 
Game 7 concluded Thursday night with an emphatic finish, a 48 minute slugfest living up the symphonic excellence the previous six games had composed before it. With less than a minute on the board, we had a two point ball game with both teams trading blows like the Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin applying finisher after finisher to no avail. It seemed that in a series where the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs countered each other game to game to game to game, that still no team had an edge over the other.
 
Still, at the concluding bell, I wonder: did the best team truly win? Or was the dramatic, heart-rendering finish of Game 6 so emotionally resonant that we’ve all tricked ourselves into believing that Miami’s had the slightly upper hand? Was it all an illusion born of adrenaline and the singular greatness of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade?… Read more...

NBA Finals: Game 6–A Survivor’s Tale

“I’m going to the gym. I’m all jacked up.”–MAMBINO Contributor El Mariachi, 12:17 am Eastern Time
 
We didn’t watch Game 6 everyone–we survived it.
 
It’s been echoed over and over again all night and all morning. It’s not hyperbole: this was one of the greatest Finals games ever. Off the top of my head, only a handful of games are in it’s company over the last 30 years: Mavericks-Heat Game 5 in 2006, Bulls-Jazz Game 6 in 1998, Pistons-Lakers Game 6 in 1988 and Lakers-Celtics Game 4 in 1987. There are others, of course, but there’s no doubt about it: last night’s epic Game 6 already ranks in the Top 10 of greatest Finals games ever, perhaps even penetrating the sacred sphere of greatest contests in American sports history. It was that good.
 
It’s not just the dramatic finish and the toe-curling proximity to which San Antonio was to a championship, but rather the ebbs and flows of such an excellently played contest that really makes this game stand out. Even the last two Game 7s (Boston/LA in 2010 and SA/Detroit in 2005) lacked the 48 minutes–make that 53 minutes–of artistry that last night’s bout had. Celtics-Lakers was a sloppy affair, with both teams shooting poorly, Kobe Bryant chucking away a 6-24 night and the final combined score ticking in at just over 160 combined points. Spurs/Pistons had the same feeling of inertia, slogging towards a 4th quarter that was largely out of reach for Detroit. Game 6 was dynamic from beginning to end, with each team playing crisply, trading blows and fighting to a standstill up until Bosh emphatically landed the controversial finishing blow. This game was so finely played, with so many featured players, that it’s hard to remember one seminal moment in a myriad of them. That’s what sets last night’s game apart–painting a masterpiece without muddling the colors. … Read more...

NBA Finals: One game away from…Danny Green, Finals MVP?

Danny Green wasn’t ever a blue chip NBA prospect. Unlike many of his North Carolina ilk, Green was highly recruited, yet not the type of college player whose talent would propel him towards an early entrance into the NBA Draft. He spent all four years at UNC, capping off his collegiate career as a key role player on the 2009 NCAA Champion Tarheels. Embedded as deep into his amateur career as would be in his professional career, Green was overshadowed by the better players on the floor. Surrounded by Ty Lawson, Tyler Hanbrough, Ed Davis and Wayne Ellington, Danny played his part while his teammates grabbed national headlines and lottery pick status. Green finished the year nearly getting skunked in regular season accolades, barely making an All-ACC team (Third Team, no less), let alone anything as lofty as an All-American selection
 
He found a place in the NBA, but just barely. The Cleveland Cavaliers took Green with the 46th pick in the 2009 Draft, giving the swingman the opportunity to make the team out of training camp without any guaranteed money. With a sweet long range shot and the requisite defensive chops to make Roy Williams’ tough rotation, he certainly had enough skills to make it as a NBA player, but only with a ton of hard work and the right system to take advantage of his very specific talents.
 
But, as Adam Morrison, Joe Alexander and Shelden Williams will tell you, all the potential in the world might not save your NBA career. Green languished in the Cavs system for his rookie year, playing in only 20 games with the big league club, whilst being sent down to the D-League throughout the year. He was cut as soon as the 2010 season started, a dubious distinction considering how rancid the post-LeBron James Cavaliers were. Green was then picked up by the San Antonio Spurs, but he was far from the steady professional he is now–in his first year with the Spurs, he was waived within six days of his first signing, then spent months in the D-League on a non-NBA contract, and the signed again in March 2011 for the stretch run. He only played 8 games that year for San Antonio, but obviously someone on the coaching staff or the front office saw something significant in the young guard’s game.
 
Last season, Green broke out into a full fledged contributor, starting in 38 games and playing 66 regular season contests for the Spurs in 23 minutes a night. His defensive acumen wasn’t just reputation–it was fully formed in it’s execution. Moreover, Green was every bit of the shooter he looked in college. At the close of the 2011-2012 campaign, he threw down an unreal .436 3P% from the 3-point line, forging himself a permanent role on the reborn run-and-gun San Antonio offense. Green was the perfect component for what coach Gregg Popovich wanted to run: a young, long athlete who was willing to run the floor, play defense on every possession and could knock down a jumper anytime the ball was in his hands. He averaged 9.5 ppg and 3.4 rpg, career-high marks only topped by this year’s numbers: 27 mpg with 10.1 ppg, while starting all 80 of his appearances.
 
Even still, Green never seemed to forget his place in the San Antonio system–he was a role player, plain and simple. He has succeeded despite a career of disappointments and well wishes on future endeavors. There’s very few times where he tries to overextend himself and try to penetrate the lane like Tony Parker, or launch off-balance jumpers like Manu Ginobili. For better or worse, Danny Green is Danny Green, and he’ll c… Read more...

NBA Finals Game 3 Thoughts and Game 4 Notes

Three games gone in the NBA Finals, the “Fo, Fo, Fo, Fo” calls for a spotless Miami Heat playoffs seem like a faraway fairytale, prancing on a cloud with unicorns and mermaids. The reigning champs look to be at a significant disadvantage against the San Antonio Spurs, though they’re down just 2 games to 1. The 4-time champs have owned Miami despite a narrow margin of victory in Game 1–after all, it’s not outrageous to say that San Antonio has controlled the series for 10 of the 12 quarters played thus far.
 
Game 3 was an absolute thrashing on the part of the Spurs. In a completely lopsided 113-77 blowout, San Antone hit a NBA record 16 three-pointers, including and outrageous 13-19 clip from Danny Green and Gary Neal. Now, if you’re a casual NBA fan and you don’t know who those two guys are, their games on the court make them seem as unglamorous as the 9th grade chemistry teachers they’re seemingly named after. However, in a complex series of screens and cuts, the two wingmen were able to shake free time after time, getting uninhibited looks from long. They combined for a backbreaking 51 points, accounting for twice the output of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili (25 points). Though this was the primary narrative of the game, a few other factors stood out:… Read more...

NBA Finals Game 1 Thoughts: It’s a Spurs world, and Miami just lives in it

In the aftermath of an epic Game 1 win last night, a few thoughts stemming from the NBA Finals:
 
It’s San Antonio’s world, and Miami’s just living in it
 
92-88 game, with a 2-point differential in the last 29 seconds? Sounds like a close game.
 
But it wasn’t. Not nearly as much as the final score would have you believe.
 
The Spurs completely dictated the pace of the game, and Miami should be so fortunate that they even kept it that close. The most telling numbers:… Read more...

NBA Finals Preview: LeBron’s revenge denied?

2) San Antonio Spurs vs. 1) Miami Heat
 
How are the Spurs taking this in 7 games?
 
A 27-game win streak, the league’s MVP and the 10th best record ever in an 82 game season at 66-16. Nigh indomitable, no?
 
No. Not for these San Antonio Spurs.
 
The MAMBINO crew got together via e-mail this week and took our prediction poll, as per usual every round. However, unlike all the other rounds, the Heat weren’t a unanimous pick to win the series. They weren’t even the pick to win the series. MAMBINO had taken the Spurs in 7 games.
 
Perhaps the reasons are as simple as they’re the hottest team playing right now. The Spurs annihilated two of their three playoff opponents in two distinguished sweeps, with the war-torn Lakers going down in the first round and the stunningly over matched Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals. There almost hasn’t been any area in which San Antonio has faltered in the past to months; they’ve rebounded extremely well, forced turnovers, scored efficiently and played shut down D (the Spurs haven’t allowed 100 points since Game 2 against the Golden State Warriors). They are executing their offense and defense to the letter, throwing screens upon screens for their cutting wings and using a revitalized Tim Duncan as a deadly force in the high post. It doesn’t seem to matter who the San Antonio is playing either: the uptempo Warriors tried to run the Spurs into the ground with Harrison Barnes acting as a small-ball power forward, while the Grizzlies tried to use Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol to bully their way inside. Both times San Antonio adjusted and re-adjusted, using their versatile roster to combat any offensive strategy their opponents tried.
 
No team has played as consistently well as the Spurs have since mid-April, Right now, they look like the best team in the league. It’s not a coincidence then that they have arguably the second best (or best) player in the playoffs. That’s Tony Parker.… Read more...