Farewell to the San Antonio Spurs 2012

The Spurs struggled but ultimately fell short against the more talented Thunder. It’s been a while since I’ve been this down over a loss.

In seven years, when my son is nine years old and asks about Kevin Durant’s career, I’ll tell him how Durant knocked out the Spurs in four straight games in the 2012 Western Conference Finals. I’ll tell him the Spurs played well enough enough to win all but one of their four series losses, but Durant simply refused to let his team lose. I’ll tell you about the big shots Durant hit, his heroism in the fourth quarter, his poise, his leadership and, most importantly, his bravery. I can even remember telling him that Durant was only 23 at the time. I’ll certainly tell you that Durant officially made it to the 2012 Western Conference Finals. In pressure-filled moments that cringe stars like LeBron James, Durant came through. He made the leap from superstar to legend. Soon I will tell all this to my son.

For now, though, as a grieving Spurs fan, I want to dwell on the San Antonio loss. After all, something tells me there will be plenty of time to talk about Durant and the Thunder in the next few years.

[I’m putting this section in parentheses because it’s not why the Spurs lost Game 6 or the series. Though, it certainly didn’t help their chances. The officiating in the 4th quarter of Game 6 was HORRENDOUS. The Spurs were called for five fouls in the opening three minutes of the 4thquarter. Four of them were offensive fouls and each was a ticky-tacky call AT BEST. It’s the 4thquarter of a deciding game and the officials are taking over on one end and completely ignoring the other team on the other. I was embarrassed for the NBA. No other sport is consistently ruined by its officiating like basketball. As a result, the Spurs were handicapped defensively because every foul sent the Thunder to the line. It’s hard enough to beat the Tunder at home. Doing so with three officials calling a lopsided 4th quarter was an impossible task.]

Moving on… Let’s start with the main reason the Spurs lost this series; role players All season long, and through the first two rounds of the postseason, San Antonio’s role players performed magnificently. When the starters took their seats, the bench took over, often adding to the lead or sparking comebacks. If one of the Spurs’ stars was injured or had a bad night, a role player stepped in. The Spurs’ role players were just as responsible for San Antonio’s stellar play this year as the Big Three.

Then all of a sudden, San Antonio’s role players disappeared entirely in the conference finals. A potent 9-10 rotation was whittled down to 5. Only Stephen Jackson and Gary Neal saw extended playing time off the bench and only Jackson contributed more than blocked shots and turnovers. The Spurs’ greatest asset suddenly became their greatest weakness.

People may talk about Gregg Popovich being overtaken as coach by Scott Brooks, but imagine how difficult it would be for Brooks to win a series if Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka hit open shots or Daequan Cook threw air balls in his limited action in the game. 5. , or Derek Fisher didn’t shoot big shots in the 4th quarter. It would be almost impossible for the Thunder to win. I’m not even discussing Brooks No Get past Coach Popovich. I’m simply saying that Popovich was playing with a short deck, a short deck that absolutely no one could have foreseen.

If you want to analyze the failure of Spurs role players on an individual level, I’ll be happy to help you… For the second year in a row, Tiago Splitter fell flat on his face in the biggest games of the season. . He was hesitant, confused and completely overwhelmed. The Spurs desperately needed Splitter to protect the rim and score inside. Instead, he panicked at the free throw line, lost confidence and was as effective defensively as a swinging gate. Then there is the trio of Matt Bonner, Gary Neal and Danny Green. Bonner did nothing. He couldn’t bounce. I couldn’t shoot. He couldn’t defend himself. “Good job. Good effort.” Neal’s shot was off for most of the series. What’s worse, he was responsible for several San Antonio defensive lapses in critical moments in Game 6 and for at least one other game in the series, if not two (I’m too depressed to remember). As for Green, the poor guy suffered a short circuit after a slow start to the series. He shot a lousy percentage from beyond the arc (17%) and completely lost his identity in the Spurs’ offense. Similar to Neal and Splitter, Green also allowed his offensive shortcomings to affect his defense. Green, the same defensive standout who cracked down on Chris Paul, was constantly torched by the Thunder’s back end. While Boris Diaw and DeJuan Blair were similarly unimpressive, it was awful play from Splitter, Neal and Green that really cost the Spurs.

Regardless, the biggest disappointment of the last four games was how the role players let Tim Duncan (and the rest of the Big Three) down after declaring for much of the last few months how much they wanted to win for Duncan. While Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker weren’t perfect, I thought they played well enough to have a reasonable chance of winning the series. They just didn’t get any help outside of Stephen Jackson and Kawhi Leonard. As the Thunder and Celtics have shown in this year’s conference finals, you can’t succeed this deep in the postseason without significant contributions and key plays from your role players. Right now, no one knows this as well as the Spurs.

I feel especially sorry for Duncan, who believed this was his best and perhaps last chance at ring number five. I feel sorry for Gregg Popovich, who brilliantly shaped this team to buy a system that linked humility and the TEAM concept over stardom and stats. I feel sorry for Tony Parker, who carried the Spurs for much of the season even though he fell short against the size and speed of Oklahoma City’s defense. I feel sorry for Stephen Jackson, who fought tooth and nail to give his friend Tim Duncan another title. I feel sorry for Manu Ginobili, whose unique style of play will soon fade when his body betrays him.

In fact, the last time I felt East horrible after a sporting event was after the Eagles lost another NFC Championship Game, this time to the Arizona Cardinals in January 2009. Like the Spurs, the Eagles came out of nowhere, they were playing the best they could. any team in the postseason and were hoping to advance to the Super Bowl, but lost in devastating fashion.

I’ve spent countless hours watching nearly all of the Spurs’ 66 regular-season games and 14 playoff games in the last six months. I bought everything they were; teamwork, humility, respect, greatness. Watching them lose feels like everything I believed in was wrong. But then I look at the Thunder and realize that everything I loved about the Spurs is obviously present in the Thunder. So even the defeat, the heartache, and the crushing defeat of the soul, I still feel a small pang of victory. The Spurs drew the map, the Thunder followed it to perfection.

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