First of all, congrats to the Miami Heat. Even though they get knocked for having the worst fans in the NBA, LeBron James and the rest of the South Beach gang proved they were the best team in the league by outlasting my San Antonio Spurs.
Even though Tim Duncan didn’t get his fifth ring tonight, I’m still proud of the way my team hung in there and kept battling the Heat (and Joey Crawford) until the very end. And now that another NBA season is over, it’s time to talk about another end: The Big 3.
Manu Ginobili, the heart and soul of the Spurs championship teams in the middle of the last decade, looked like he was already retired with the exception of his Game 5 performance. It may be time to nudge him out the door like George Gervin was in the mid-80s when that Spurs team’s championship window slammed shut. Manu’s performance this season, and especially this playoff run, hasn’t given anyone confidence he can return to his old form. For a thirty-five year old future Hall of Famer, he’s got a lot of miles on the odometer and looked like the game had passed him by the past two games.
Tim Duncan is not quite ready to retire, but we all know that time is coming closer than we think. It is unrealistic for the Spurs to rely on him for a heavy workload going forward, and it’s time for the team to find another big man to help shoulder the burden of winning fifty games a season and challenge for the championship. I hope he plays forever, but I know that’s not happening. For all we know, he might step away from the game this summer. Whenever the inevitable happens, it’s going to be sad day for pro basketball when the best power forward to ever play the game decides to head back to the Virgin Islands for good.
Tony Parker is a spry 31, but he’s also got a dozen NBA seasons of wear and tear on his body. How much longer can he play at an All-Star level? Will he remain with the Spurs after his latest contract expires? That is the biggest unknown heading into the summer.
For now all I can think of is to tell these great players, “Thanks for the best fourteen years this Spurs fan has ever had following this team,” and also beg them “One more year, please?”
PREDICTION: Manu retires, Duncan and head coach Gregg Popovich return for one more kick in the can, and general manager R.C. Buford reloads this team for one more title run. Then in 2014 the rebuilding of the Spurs begins with the re-signing of Parker and then surrounding him and future superstar Kawhi Leonard with young, quality players.