The San Antonio Spurs may be old, but they haven’t forgotten how to get to the NBA Finals. The Spurs needed only four games to dispose of their Western Conference Finals opponent, the Memphis Grizzlies, completing the sweep May 27.
Although the Spurs have not been to the finals since 2007, this is a familiar place for most of these guys. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan won their first NBA championship together back in 1999.
Over the next two seasons, the Spurs would acquire star guards Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. From then on, Popovich, Duncan, Ginobili and Parker would go on to win three more championships in the 2003, 2005 and 2007 seasons. It has been an especially long run for Duncan, the Spurs’ 37-year-old future hall-of-famer.
“Since last year, I promised [Duncan] that we will go back, go back to the finals and get an opportunity to win the whole thing, and I’m trying to do my best, try[ing] to be aggressive every night,” Parker said to CBS Sports after their final game against the Grizzlies. “I think everybody on the team … [wants] to do it for him. We win the West, and now it’s one more step. This is the hardest one.”
The Spurs have a total of four NBA championships, which currently ranks them fourth all-time behind the Boston Celtics with 17; the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers franchise with 16; and the Chicago Bulls with six, all when Michael Jordan was on the team.
When the NBA Finals begin June 6, there will be a little more than just a championship on the line. With a win, there is a possibility that the Spurs will be remembered as a dynasty. Winning an average of 55 regular-season games per year in the last fourteen seasons is impressive, but a string of championships is what turns a great team into a dynasty.
If the Spurs win the NBA Championship, that would give them five since 1999; only the Lakers have won five championships in that same span. But because the Spurs never won a championship before 1999, some fans may believe they are the more impressive team in the 14-year span.
Duncan, the Spurs captain, realizes that this has been a long road for him in his 15-year career. If he is going to get another ring, he is going to need some help from his teammates, much like Parker, who has been outstanding in the 2013 playoffs.
“Tony Parker has been amazing,” Duncan told CBS Sports. “Every year he gets better and better and better. He’s been carrying us. You can see tonight he carried us the entire game.”
The Spurs’ big three are an average age of 34, but none of the three seem to have slowed down at all. In the deciding Game 4 of the series against the Grizzlies, Parker led the team in points with 37, Duncan led the team in rebounds with eight, and Ginobili led the team in assists with six.
The 64-year-old Popovich, who has led this championship organization since 1996, was impressed by the performances of his veterans.
“You don’t expect that to happen … this late in the game with the same group,” Popovich said to CBS Sports. “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 whoever else is brought in around them. They deserve a lot of credit for that.”
The Spurs can now rest their old and nimble bones, and watch and prepare for their next opponent. They will take on the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals between the defending champion Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers.
The Spurs’ big three will be patiently and humbly waiting, just as they have been for the past 14 years.