Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

The San Antonio Spurs: The Best Old, Boring Dynasty in Professional Sports History

There are times when the “D” word applies, and when it is crystal clear. John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins of the 60s and 70s come to mind. The Red Auerbach/Bill Russell Celtics. Those great Nebraska Cornhuskers football teams. The Troy Aikman/Emmitt Smith/Michael Irvin Cowboys. And yes, the Showtime Lakers of the 80s. Despite the Zenmaster’s (somewhat self-serving) protestations to the contrary, the Gregg Popovich/Tim Duncan/Tony Parker/Manu Ginobili Spurs are a dynasty as well.

I know what you’re thinking. The Spurs? Yep. The Spurs. Folks keep saying that the “window” is closing, but they’ve been saying that for a few years now. I wish my windows would “close” like theirs. Last year’s team would’ve won the Spurs fifth title in 15 seasons if not for a couple of insane offensive rebounds by the scoreless-for-Game-6 Chris Bosh, and an only-he-could 3-pointer by Ray “Jesus Shuttlesworth” Allen in the same game to force overtime.

Set aside the habit of consistent and sustained excellence throughout the Popovich era, and there is another persistent complaint about this franchise: the Spurs are boring. That may have been true a decade-and-a-half ago, but not today. The 1998-99 title team was all about grit and defense, and portrayed an on-court persona that echoed that of its coach, the Air Force Academy graduate that he is. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this team’s run is how varied its successes have been. From the twin towers of Tim Duncan and David Robinson to the current Big 3, Coach Pop has created teams with different styles and personnel, but always with the same selflessness, the same grit, and the same relentless defensive intensity.

All of that said, boring teams don’t destroy good teams by scoring 122 points in opening Conference Finals series games, nor do they run through strong teams like this year’s Portland Trailblazers like Sherman tore through Atlanta several generations ago. If you find the current iteration of the San Antonio Spurs boring, you should probably seek professional help for your attraction to life-threatening activities.

In winning Game 1 of the 2014 Western Conference Finals, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker tied the all-time record for playoff wins by a trio of players, also held by Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper. That is some lofty company indeed. It is inconceivable that the Spurs Big 3 won’t own that record on their own by the end of these playoffs, likely by the end of Game 2 of the 2014 Western Conference Finals in San Antonio.

Past that, this year’s Spurs team looks well-positioned to win that fifth title that eluded it last season at the conclusion of this 2014 postseason. Duncan seems reinvigorated. {I consulted the head of the Geology Department at Stanford to pressure-test a theory of mine. She assured me that it is biologically impossible for the Big Fundamental to have actually been around to teach dirt how to make mud. Despite my skepticism, I will accept her professional opinion on the matter.} Tony Parker is still hard to keep out of the paint, despite a balky hamstring (SIA Profile). Manu Ginobli has rediscovered his shooting touch, which abandoned him for long stretches during the 2013 postseason.

And the Big 3 isn’t even the whole story. Kawhi Leonard is emerging as a legitimate top 15 two-way player in the NBA. Danny Green is channeling his inner Gary Payton, and has become a lock-down wing defender. Tiago Splitter is more than just a big body in the paint these days, and has improved his scoring and rebounding in the post-season over his regular season and career averages. The bench—led by perennial sixth man superstar Ginobili—is even better than it has been in years past. The group consisting of Ginobili, Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli and Matt Bonner is as solid as any second unit in the entire NBA.

There is no telling what will happen during the rest of this year’s NBA playoffs, but the Spurs are the most complete team playing, befitting its top seed in this year’s NBA postseason tournament. For passionate basketball fans everywhere, this team is a gift to be cherished, and represents the continuation of an era of achievement that has few equals.


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Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt


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