Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
With absolutely no Celtics “news” happening this morning, I’ve chosen to talk about a team very similar-the San Antonio Spurs. Aging superstars? Check. Fantastic coach who has tight bonds with his players? Check. Window closing on a final title run? Check.
I really dig this piece from Yahoo’s Marc Spears on the tight bond between future hall-of-famers Tony Parker and Tim Duncan:
They had stood in that losing locker room in Oklahoma City a year ago, and Tony Parker made Tim Duncan a promise that would carry these San Antonio Spurs all the way to Monday night. I’ll get you back to the NBA Finals, Parker vowed. We aren’t done. You aren’t done.
It was late Monday, and Parker’s eyes looked like they might well with tears as he recalled that moment. He had a 2013 Western Conference champions hat atop his head, having made good on his promise to send Duncan and the Spurs back to the Finals with a stirring 37-point performance in a 93-86 victory that completed a four-game sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Duncan “remembered [the promise] and reminds me every time we passed a playoff round,” Parker told Yahoo! Sports. “He said, ‘We’re going to ride you to the end.’
“Timmy means a lot to me. I learned so much from him. From the first day I arrived in San Antonio he’s always had my back. He’s a very good friend, very close to me on the court and off the court.
“Our first championship we were riding him. He was our franchise. I feel very blessed because now it’s my turn to try to bring this team to the end. If I can do that for him, it would be … unbelievable.”
I love reading stuff like that. These two guys have become much more than teammates over the years. They’ve become brothers. Very similar to our beloved KG and Paul Pierce. Unfortunately, they fell short of returning to the Finals this past year, mainly due to injuries which caused a depleted roster. San Antonio will be making their first trip to the NBA’s biggest stage since 2007. They’ve been to the Finals four times, and won, four times.
“In 2007, we won our third one in five years, and you think it’s going to keep coming,” Parker said. “And I’m 25, and six years go by and every year it gets tougher.”
The Spurs were stuck in a six-year Finals drought that included last year’s difficult loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the West finals. The Spurs led that series 2-0 before losing the next four games. Afterward, Parker told Duncan that he would get him back to the Finals before the end of his career. At 37 years old, Duncan will now get a shot at winning his fifth championship.
“He’s amazing and he’s evolved so much over the past couple of years,” Duncan said of Parker. “To get back to this point with him at the helm, I’m just going to do everything I can to get these four games in and try to win four more for both of us. Obviously, he’s carrying the load and he said he was going to get me back here. It’s a lot of fun to be back here.”
San Antonio will now get some much needed rest. They will wait to see who they face out of Indiana & Miami. The Finals will begin on June 6th. This is great news for an aging roster that just went through a very physical series against Memphis, which featured multiple overtime games. As was the case with some of the Celtics teams of recent years, the Spurs suddenly do not seem so “old”.
After entering the playoffs with the West’s No. 2 seed, the Spurs have gone 12-2, sweeping the Lakers, beating theGolden State Warriors in six games and now sweeping the Grizzlies. Suddenly, all that talk about Duncan, Parker and Manu Ginobili being too old has been replaced by respect.
“It already feels pretty good,” Popovich said. “You don’t expect that to happen maybe this late in the game with the same group. It’s tough to do, to maintain something that long. But it just shows the character of those three guys and their ability to play with whomever else is brought around them. They deserve a lot of credit for that.”
Duncan gave Spurs owner Peter Holt credit for sticking with himself, Parker and Ginobili for all these years and resisting change. Duncan joined the Spurs in 1997, Parker in 2001 and Ginobili in 2002. Popovich began coaching the Spurs the season before Duncan arrived. He and general manager R.C. Buford have worked in the team’s front office since 1994.
“I know it’s rare what we have,” Duncan said. “It’s rare for the confidence that they have in Pop and the front office. It’s rare for us to be playing together for so long. There is a lot of rare air here.”
The rest of the links: