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Tim Duncan, Page 2

Same Old Spurs (emphasis on "Old") — San Antonio Spurs Season Preview


Starting Five: PG Tony Parker, SG Manu Ginobili, SF Stephen Jackson, PF Boris Diaw, C Tim Duncan 

Key Bench Players: SF Kawhi Leonard, PF Tiago Splitter, SG Danny Green, F Matt Bonner, G Nando de Colo, SG Gary Neal, PG Patty Mills, G Cory Joseph

Key Additions: G Nando de Colo 

Key Departures: SG James Anderson

New NBA season on the horizon, same ol’ Spurs.  Gregg Popovich still patrols the sideline, Tony Parker still runs the offense, Manu Ginobili still provides unlimited #SWAG in the 4th quarter, and Tim Duncan still mans the paint, quarterbacks the D, and goes glass at least once a game.  This is essentially the same Spurs team as last season’s team, only one year older.  

This is not to say that being the same team as last year is a bad thing.  Last year’s team won a league-high 50 games, was the #1 seed in the West, steamrolled through the first two rounds in the playoffs, and gave Pop some nasty in taking the first two games in the Conference Semi’s, until the Thunder simply found another gear and the Spurs could not keep up.




So what can we expect if the Spurs in 2012 are going to be a lot like the Spurs in 2011.  Well, we can assume they will monitor the minutes of Duncan (36 years old) and Ginobili (35 years old) even more so than last year.  They’ll shoot a lot of 3’s and score a lot of points, and a crew of unheralded bench reserves (Danny Green, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, de Colo, et al.) will alternate as the hot hand from distance.  Tony Parker will have more freedom to attack, while  Kawhi Leonard will continue to develop into one of the better two-way players in the NBA.  Steven Jackson and Boris Diaw will become more comfortable in the Spurs system.  The Spurs will win a lot of regular season games.

“Key additions” is a misnomer for this preview, as the only “new” player on the roster is 25 year-old Frenchman Nando de Colo, a 6’5″ shooting guard who played for Valencia in the Spanish ACB League last season.  De Colo was underwhelming in the Olympics, looking like a competent guard who is above-average in most facets of the game but may not have one “NBA skill” that defines him. In the small Olympic sample, de Colo looked like just a decent athlete, a good but not superb ballhandler, a good shooter but not a sniper by any means.  The lack of an NBA skill may mute de Colo’s overall effectiveness in year one.  Regardless, the Spurs could use some fresh legs, and de Colo should receive some backcourt minutes behind fellow Frenchman Tony Parker, Ginobili, Gary Neal, and Danny Green.

With the Lakers and Clippers both adding reinforcements and the Thunder improving from within, the lack of more “Key additions” could be a telling theme for the Spurs as they are passed in the Conference hierarchy.  The most important players on the roster — guys like Ginobili and Duncan and Parker, and even Jackson and Diaw — these are players who are what they are, players in or past their prime who will not play beyond the level they have been at for the past few years.  Given that, the Spurs desperately need their young guns to improve.  

Kawhi Leonard is a 6’7, 225 lb. wing who will be 21 this season.  8 points and 5 rebounds was a nice line as a rookie, but Leonard needs to come into camp with a more consistent jumper and a more refined offensive game in order to progress into something more.  6’11” big Tiago Splitter will be 27 this season; is he anything more than the 9 point/5 rebound guy he was last yeRead more...

Tim Duncan or Kobe Bryant? Who has had the better career?


It’s no secret that THE GREAT MAMBINO features a number of Simmons disciples here. We drink the Kool-Aid, heavily so, and listen to the musings of a man who spends an impossible amount of time thinking about basketball as a mere hobby.

Of course, with a false prophet, you’ve got to have the good book. And of course, in this sacriligious perversion of an analogy, the bible is The Book of Basketball. For the uninitiated, Simmons wrote a mammoth 700 page dissertation, the premise of which was that the Basketball Hall of Fame should be organized into a pyramid. In this concept, Simmons sets 96 players into five groupings, moving numerically upwards from several-time All-Stars, to the immortals of the NBA. In other words, Bill found a neat, clean (and profitable) way to rank the greatest ballers of all-time from bottom to top, with justifications, disguised as chapters, for each man.

It shouldn’t surprise any loyal reader of MAMBINO that we’d naturally gravitate towards the particular ranking of one Kobe Bean Bryant. Simmons begrudgingly respects Kobe, though every part of his green and white being is dead set against ever truly liking the Black Mamba. Thus, when I read the updated paperback rankings in 2010 after the Lakers’ 16th championship, I was surprised to see that Kobe had been elevated from the 16th spot, all the way to number 8. Just behind Tim Duncan.

And thus the debate started. While I have the utmost respect for Tim Duncan, who rightly wears the Barkley-ian badge of “Best Power Forward Ever” proudly upon his lean shoulder, I simply don’t believe that he could ever outrank Kobe on the pyramid. The King, an infrequent contributor to MAMBINO and Boston-area scumbag, heartily disagrees.

This debate raged throughout the playoffs, and as both men were unceremoniously dumped from contention (is there any other way?), the stage was set for a late-August post where we scrap for any reason at all to talk about basketball. So here it is: Kobe or Duncan? Who has had the better career?
The King: To answer this question, I think you have to define what makes a player great. To me there are four factors that make a great player:

1)     He is a winner who is essential to his team’s success

2)     He played well during the most important moments
3)     He individual performance was strong
4)     He made his teammates better
Let’s look at how Kobe and Timmy compare to each other on the four characteristic listed above:

He is winner who is essential to their team’s success

If we were talking about beating rape charges, Kobe would be the clear winner here (Editor’s Note: First of all, alleged rape charges. Second of all, low blow, man). However, since we’re talking about basketball, Duncan gets the edge.

Yes, Kobe’s five championships are one greater than Timmy’s four, but when we are talking about all-time greats, the role on the championship team matters. There is no questioning that Kobe Bryant was the alpha dog on the2009 and the 2010 championship teams. The 2000 – 2002 championship teams on the other hand?   Any non-biased fan has to admit that Shaq was Batman and Kobe was Robin. On all those championship teams there were at least three other players in the league you could replace Bryant with and still win the championship. There was only one player in the league you could replace Shaq with and still win the championship. That player is none other than Tim Duncan.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Not only was Timmy the alpha of all four Read more...

The 2012 NBA Finals: One of the Most Historically Significant…Ever

Let’s ignore the usual rhetoric for now. We’re going to take the LeBron fourth quarter statistics and put them off to the side. We’re going to, for the moment, disregard his erratic and immature behavior that even we here at MAMBINO can’t shy away from critiquing. We’re going to stop talking about the questionable nature in which the Miami Heat came together two years ago. This isn’t going to be about how Dwyane Wade has slowly morphed into one of the most despicable on and off-court character in the league. Hell, this isn’t going to be a sychophantic pedestal-job on Kevin Durant, Russ Westbrook and James Harden that we’ve professed to loving so much more than Bron and his ilk.

The prevailing storyline might be if the Miami Heat can finally win their title that they pissed off the entire world while questing to do so. The secondary yarn here is if LeBron James, by all accounts and MVP trophies the best player on the planet, can carry an unorthodox and limited team to a title. And a footnote to all of this is if Kevin Durant, James Harden, Serge Ibaka and Russ Westbrook – all under the age of 24 – can upstage their celebrity opponents and upend them for their first championship.

That’s not what’s important here. Is it a big part of the story? Yes, it is. Very. Extremely. LeBron, Wade and Bosh are all in their ninth seasons, with only Wade capturing the ever-elusive chip in 2006, though with Shaquille and Alonzo at his side. Durant, Russ and Harden surpassing them would be a fantastic story that the NBA-watching public could absolutely engorge themselves with – the thought of the noble, beloved, blue-collar Thunder from the humble breadbasket of America defeating the glamorous villains hailing from the neon-satured, sun-soaked South Beach would be a screenplay come to life.

For the NBA-head though, this isn’t just a tale of the young, hard-working Thunder vanquishing the evil thespians from Miami. This is a match-up of the two best teams in the NBA. Lasting up to seven games, this year’s Finals pits six of the NBA’s best 20 players against each other, highlighted by the consensus top dog in James and the runner-up in Durant. As anyone who watched Tuesday’s Game 1 will attest, this isn’t just about a set with star-power – this is going to be a tough, grinding series that no matter who the victor is, we’ll all agree that the trophy was well-deserved.

The Oklahoma City Thunder versus the Miami Heat isn’t just going to be a great Finals. This is one of the most historically significant Finals ever. And heres’ why.
I’ve spoken at length about the “generationalism” there is in the NBA. Determined sometimes by draft class, age or style of play, groups of players are often banded together with an unmistakable bond that fans always seem to identify them by.

There was Jordan’s generation, and before that, Magic and Bird’s. After Jordan, it was Shaquille, Timmy and Kobe ruled the roost. The specific players mentioned up top is always up for debate, but in the end, no one’s really questioning whether or not these guys were the leaders of their peers.

What’s incredible about the NBA is that unlike baseball, football or hockey, there seems to be rules that adhere to the game decade after decade. One of these rules, or concepts I should say, is that for the past 30 years of NBA basketball, there is a definite breaking point, a specific event, that delineates generation… Read more...

WWE for a NBA Fan – Southwest Division (Part 4)

It has returned MAMBINO-maniacs – the WWE for an NBA series has invaded the Southwest division. As always, this post will give the best comparable for YOUR…favorite NBA team, with metrics based on the team’s style of play, personnel and of course, attitude and tenor of the fan base that makes their existence possible.

Memphis Grizzlies: Wade Barrett

In Memphis, the basketball team of choice is the University of Memphis Tigers. With over a dozen NCAA tournament berths and three Final Four appearances, the city will always have its heart with the Tigers, though any attention on the periphery may monetarily take away attention from the main attraction. This momentary distraction would be the trendy Finals pick Memphis Grizzlies.

I for one, see the Grizz as more than just a trendy pick – they are the real deal Holyfield. They are young, hungry, and have the look of a champion. There is no reason they cannot be the best in the world, other than any internal problem holding them back. I could have cut and pasted those last few sentences to sum up how I have felt for the past 3 years about Wade Barrett.

Barrett is the Memphis Grizzlies of the WWE. There is nothing about him, on paper, to suggest that he is anything but a title contender. He is one of the very best talkers in the company, who can ably hold a conversation or throw down a scathing promo in front of the thousands in attendance, and the millions watching at home. In the ring, his skills are somewhat raw, but ultimately can wrestle just enough for me take him seriously as a major player. His move set augments the most impressive facets of his body and size – his massive wingspan and impressive shoulder width. The only thing holding back Wade Barrett from being world champion (aside from backstage politics), is time and other top contenders in the WWE.

For all of Barrett’s skill, size and personality, there are a ton of already established, homegrown big men that Vince McMahon knows he can rely on. With the Big Show, Mark Henry, Kane and Sheamus on the roster, Vince already has his Memphis Tigers. Barrett, while up and coming, is simply an on-paper player, and more importantly a substantial risk, especially when compared with the already proven big men of the WWE.

Grizz fans will understand the position that Wade Barrett is in. They will root for him like their own. Because that is what he is. A big British dude that a bunch of Tennesseans can connect with.

Dallas Mavericks: Jack Swagger

Shawn Marion said a few weeks ago that the Dallas Mavericks don’t seem to be getting enough respect from the NBA public as the reigning champions. Well Shawn, maybe if you had won opening week and hadn’t gotten blown out at home in your first two games, then you’d get a little more of that respect you think you deserve.

But this isn’t a post to deride the 2011 World Champion NBA Mavericks or it’s fan base. This is a post to celebrate the best qualities of everything that embodies Dallas’ titlists and best identify those with a WWE Superstar. That man would be Jack Swagger.

First and foremost, just look at the guy. If he doesn’t just scream North Texas and Midwest America, I don’t know what does. Swagger goes a legit 6’5″, 260 lbs, with an athletic background in collegiate amateur wrestling and football. He attended the University of Oklahoma (which might not jibe with everyone in Dallas, though the city does have it’s fair share of OU alums), where he set a NCAA record for pins in a single season as a senior. He rightfull… Read more...