SAN ANTONIO – It’s been three years since they last collected a set of expensive, flashy rings like the Lakers will pick up on opening night. They didn’t boost their roster over the summer with the addition of LeBron James and Chris Bosh. They didn’t land a future Hall of Famer in Shaquille O’Neal.
But the Spurs, who finished as the No. 7 seed in the West last season, feel that they should be on the short list of championship contenders.
“I think so,” said Tim Duncan to a gathering of reporters at Media Day. “I think it is definitely a year we can do it. Of course, that’s talking without even having a practice under our belt. I think we’re a better team than we were last year. We were in the mix last year, obviously at the lower end. We come out and we get a first round win and a lot of the teams, especially in the West, I don’t know that anybody’s gotten that much better. So I think we’re right in the mix.
“I think it’s the way we ended last season. Not losing in the second round, but playing well in the first round and feeling that we didn’t even play our best basketball. So we come in this year and we have a whole ‘nother season to get everybody in line and get everybody playing the way we want them to. That gives me the hope.”
The Spurs are buoyed by the fact that it’s the first time in several seasons that Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are both healthy and feeling fit as training camp begins.
“I think we have a shot. I truly believe it,” Ginobili said. “We are probably not the No. 1 favorites. But heading into the playoffs, we can beat anybody. Nobody’s that much better than us. So if you play well, you make the shots you have to make, you always have a chance.
“I trust this organization. I trust our talent and so far all nine times I’ve been in this situation, I’ve really thought we had a chance to win it. So I don’t see that changing.”