Archive for the ‘San Antonio Spurs’ Category

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Way back in the olden days of 2010, LeBron James and Chris Bosh decided to play basketball with their buddy, Dwyane Wade, and completely and totally ruined the NBA with their friendship. The league has not recovered to put up huge ratings, the Miami Heat have won the past 16 NBA championships and 75 percent of children born in the United States during the past year have been named LeBron Bosh Wade, no matter what the family’s last name is — thanks to “The Decision,” the Miami Heat have eroded our way of life. These are dark times.

But still, Gregg Popovich has Pat Riley’s back. Always has and always will. From Sports on Earth:

While plenty of folks were cursing the Heat, spitting on their method of building a team, screaming about the unfairness of it all and shaking a fist at the welcome party the threw for themselves in the Summer of Hate, 2010, team president Pat Riley heard his phone ring and was stunned that the voice on the other end was friendly.

“He put a team together fairly, within the rules, that is a monster,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “Why wouldn’t he get credit for that? Why wouldn’t you congratulate him for that? So I called to congratulate him.”

First he said American players should be more worldly and that American television is bad, now he’s saying that playing by the rules to create a superteam is a good move by an executive — Gregg Popovich is just hitting all the hot button issues. Doesn’t he know we’re supposed to love America and hate anything to do with LeBron James and the Miami Heat? What are are you trying to do, Gregg Popovich? Keep everything in proper perspective? Ugh.

Well, it’s no this

…but that’s a impossibly high standard to be held to, so I’ll accept this second single from the mysterious Igo Mendoza Gallegos as a worthy successor to his now-legendary debut cut. Thank you again, we are happy for the time.

(via Caleb J. Saenz)

Yeah, but what are they doing for Aron Baynes? Nothing? Rude.

(via @upshake)

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The presence of Memphis, San Antonio and Indiana — three mid-market (at best) teams without a ton of over-arcing basketball history — as three of the conference finalists in this year’s postseason meant that we probably weren’t going to get a historically sexy matchup in this year’s NBA Finals. Still, of the potential Finals ABC execs were looking at, you’d have to think that Spurs-Heat was easily their first choice. It’s the pairing with the most combined stars, the most combined championships, and as far as I can tell, the most combined story lines. It’s not Lakers-Celtics or even Thunder-Heat, but given that it could’ve been a totally sexless Grizzlies-Pacers matchup (uhh, Mike Conley went to high school in Indiana? Both cities have a racing park? A fist fight might break out?), it’ll do.

So yeah, those story lines. Let’s review for Game 1 tomorrow.

1. Those classic regular-season no-show games.
Spurs-Heat Pt. 1 was already one of the most memorable games of the season before it even tipped off, with Gregg Popovich electrifying the hoops world with his controversial announced decision to not only rest four of his best players for the Spurs’ nationally televised game against the Heat in Miami (at the end of a long San Antonio road trip), but to send them home in advance of the rest of the team. Of course, the Spurs made things doubly interesting by actually making a game out of it, leading in the fourth quarter and being in it down to the final Gary Neal-suffocated minute. Then, the Heat returned fire in March by resting their own starters in San Antonio, though they left Chris Bosh in the lineup, who ended up having an awesome game and hit a last-minute three-pointer to win the game and shock the Spurs.

Aside from demonstrating to us how no two teams in the league are schemier — in either the sinister plotting sense or in the Xs and Os sense — than these two teams, the impact of these two regular season showdowns on the Finals are mostly two-fold:

1. We still have absolutely no idea what it looks like when these two teams play each other at full-strength, and, moreover, neither do any of the teams’ respective coaches and scouts.
2. We are going to have to endure a whole lot of “Pop resting starters” jokes on Twitter for four to seven games. Likely with diminishing returns.

2. LeBron James’ shot at vengeance against the Spurs.
The Heat have never played the Spurs in the playoffs, but of course, LeBron has. Before his ultimate anointment, King James and his Cavaliers got blitzed in four games by the Spurs in ’07, one of the least-exciting and least-watched Finals in NBA history. LeBron’s already gotten his vengeance against a number of the teams who have stood in his way over the years, namely the Pistons and the Celtics, but the Spurs — still the only (and very possibly the last) team to ever sweep LeBron in the playoffs — are no doubt still on his To Do list. “This is gonna be your league in a little while,” Tim Duncan memorably told LeBron after the ’07 crushing. “But I appreciate you giving us this year.”

Does six years count as a little while? Is LeBron still in a giving mood? Also worth noting: Timmy and the Spurs have never lost in the Finals, going 4-0 in their quartet of visits. Despite having won far more recently, LeBron is still just 1-2  for his career in the NBA’s boss stage. But in the immediate future, I don’t think it’s LeBron that Tim is really competing against for rings, if anyone…

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I wish he’d have hired the mysterious mariachi man to back him up, but being shouted out by the King of Country in concert is the greatest achievement possible for a Texan sports team, so I’ll let it slide. The Spurs should play in the entire Finals in hats to pay him back.

(via KevCops)

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Tracy McGrady has a basketball resume that would be the envy of about 99.5 percent of 21st century NBA players. He’s made six All-Star games and seven All-NBA teams (two first teams), he’s finished top 10 in MVP voting six times and he’s won the scoring title twice. He’s even posted a PER over 30 for a season, if you’re into that sort of thing, which is something only six other players have ever done, all present-or-future Hall of Famers whose names you know pretty well. He dragged Orlando to the playoffs three straight years when his primary support largely consisted of Mike Miller and Darrell Armstrong, and he was part of the Rockets team that won 22 straight regular season games back in ’08. For a minute there in the early ’00s, Kobe or T-Mac was an argument, arguably. He’s done some things in this league.

What he hasn’t done, obviously and infamously, is win in the playoffs. As numerous as Tracy McGrady’s incredible statistical accomplishments have been, the stat that has most defined him for his career is probably zero, the number of playoff series he’d won to date as an active player before this postseason. The excuses for T-Mac’s lack of playoff success are there, and they’re not negligible — his two primary running mates over the years (Grant Hill in Orlando, Yao Ming in Houston) were constantly injured, and Tracy was rarely the picture of health himself, especially toward the end of his career. Often times the supporting cast that T-Mac took the court with was one that had no business being in the playoffs in the first place, and not once during his six seasons making the playoffs in Orlando or Houston was he on the higher-seeded team in the first round.

As reasonable as these excuses may be, it still hasn’t absolved McGrady in the eyes of many, as players of the strata he occupied in the early to mid ’00s — the Kobes, Duncans, AIs and KGs — are expected, somewhat unfairly, to be able to win in the playoffs, almost regardless of how crappy the rest of their teams may be. The true greats find a way to win when the games matter most. But the fact that Tracy wasn’t even once able to do that is seen as a serious blemish on his basketball resume, which when combined with his relatively brief hoops peak and ugly falling out with a couple of his old teams, has even made his Hall of Fame case a controversial one, despite possibly being one of the 10 best regular season players so far this century.

That’s what’s made this postseason such a weird one for Tracy McGrady. After being out of the league for pretty much the entirety of the regular season, with his eventual return to the NBA far from a certainty, T-Mac was snatched up by Gregg Popovich and the Spurs in mid-April and stashed on their postseason roster, presumably taking the place of veteran forward Stephen Jackson, who was waived just a few days before the Spurs announced their signing of McGrady and deemed more of a detriment to the team than an asset after he’d started complaining about his lack of burn. Now, McGrady has not only crossed the “zero playoff wins” off his resume with San Antonio’s victories over the Lakers and Warriors, but with the Spurs’ sweep over the Grizzlies in the conference finals, he’s four wins away from adding a much more prestigious line item: NBA Champion.

Sounds great, but it doesn’t quite feel right. I had hoped — as had many other hoops fans, I’d think — that even though McGrady would obviously not be a centerpiece of the 2013 Spurs as he was on the playoff teams of his prime, that he’d at least have a role like Captain Jack had in the Spurs’ previous playoff run, playing 15-20 minutes a game as the team’s backup forward, stretching the floor, adding a secondary playmaker and matching up with certain wing players on defense. He wouldn’t be the most important player, or even the seventh-most, but he’d be a real contributor, and maybe he’d have one game where he hit three or four threes and played solid defense on Kevin Durant or Jamal Crawford. It’d be a nice story, certainly, almost regardless of its outcome.

But instead, Tracy has been used as a garbage-time reserve only, playing just 17 minutes all postseason thus far, with not a second of those 17 minutes coming during a game whose outcome had yet to already be decided. His play during that limited stretch has been sporadically inspired, but basically replacement-level — in fact, he’s yet to score a single point for the Spurs, going 0-4 from the field with two assists and two turnovers. He’s not Stephen Jackson for this team, he’s early-season Rasheed Wallace, a familiar face whose entrance makes the fans go crazy, not just because of all the fun hoops memories they have of him, but because his presence in the game means that things have probably been pretty well iced for the home team.

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Are you ready for the greatest casting news since The Rock joined Vin Diesel in “Fast Five?” Hope so, because it’s coming at you right now, via Zach Lowe at Grantland:

Exciting news for NBA nerds who enjoy Bonner’s deadpan “Coach B” YouTube series of instructional videos: Bonner informs Grantland that “Coach B” is set to return, with a special guest appearance from Brian Scalabrine. You read that right: Matt Bonner and Brian Scalabrine have apparently filmed a comedy video together. Prepare accordingly.

Redheads of the world unite! Your time is coming! Brian Scalabrine and Matt Bonner together at last, like we’ve always hoped they would be. Now all they need is Luke Schenscher, Bill Walton and that redheaded kid from Wisconsin to hop on board and they can form the curliest, ruddiest Voltron the world has ever seen.

Let’s just keep this a secret from Will Ferrell, if we can. He’s in enough stuff already.