Last Rodeo For Spurs As We Know Them?

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Tim Duncan is 37 years old and remarkably fit. He averaged 17.8 ppg, 9.9 rpg and 2.7 bpg this season. He became the second-oldest player behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to be selected to the All-NBA First Team. He is one win away from capturing a fifth NBA championship in his 16th season. He has two years and $20.7 million left on his contract, the second year being a player option.

But could this be it for The Big Fundamental? And if it is, could it set off a chain reaction that changes the San Antonio Spurs, modern sport’s most stable franchise, forever?

There are some of hints out there — nothing of much substance beyond some curious phraseology, but hints nonetheless — that at least make asking these questions legitimate, particularly if the Spurs beat LeBron James and the Miami Heat in tonight’s Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals (9 ET, ABC).

Start with Spurs point guard Tony Parker. After San Antonio swept the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference finals, Parker spoke of the promise he made to Duncan to get back to the NBA finals for another title shot after last season’s sudden and excruciating exit by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the West finals.

As the Heat and Pacers battled back and forth in the East finals, Parker sat down with CNN/Turner Sports reporter Rachel Nichols and expounded on his desire to return Duncan to the finals:

“Because for me, I get emotional when I talk with Timmy because he means so much to my career and he’s been such a great friend that I would love for Timmy to go out on top just like David Robinson went out on top in 2003. I would love to do the same thing for Timmy.”

The obvious ear-perker is Parker saying he would “love for Timmy to go out on top…” Does Tony know something that Timmy isn’t saying?

Robinson, who indeed retired a champion after the 2002-03 season — his second title alongside Duncan — still lives in San Antonio and attends his share of games at the AT&T Center, just as he did last week. Robinson was 37, the same age as Duncan, when he retired after a 14-year Hall of Fame career. He recently made this comment to Michael Lee of the Washington Post:

“I was fortunate to end my last game on a win. I’d love to see that for Tim. I don’t know if this will be his last [year]. If they win it this time, there’s nothing to say they can’t win it again.”

Robinson quickly added the caveat, but it is interesting that he’s at least thinking that this might be Duncan’s last rodeo.

And say it is, what would the chain reaction look like?

Take shooting guard Manu Ginobili, who won his first of three titles with Duncan in 2003. Frustrated by his struggles this season and throughout the playoffs, Ginobili didn’t bat down the notion of retirement last week after his futility reached a climax in Game 4. Ginobili turns 36 next month, battles two careers worth of wear-and-tear and will be a free agent this summer. He has been consistent in saying that he doesn’t envision himself stepping aside now, but he also hasn’t shut that door. Between Games 4 and 5, he was asked about retiring after yet another physically taxing season in which he missed 22 games, and Ginobili said:

“I really don’t know. All season long I kind of knew that I was going to play one or two more years. But when you are 36 — I’m going to be 36 pretty soon — everything is a day-by-day basis. Once the season finishes and I see how I feel, I can’t imagine me not playing at least one more year here, but time will tell. We’ll see.”

It’s worth pondering if a Duncan retirement would further push Ginobili in that direction following his least productive year since his rookie season.

Then there’s the case of coach Gregg Popovich, the longest-tenured active coach in the four major U.S. sports in his 17th season. For years, Popovich has hitched his wagon to Duncan. He reiterated that earlier this season to the San Antonio Express-News:

“When he doesn’t think he can [play], he’ll stop. It might be in the middle of a game. I can see him walking off the court saying, ‘Nah, I’m not pulling my weight anymore. I’m gone.’ And he’ll walk. And I’ll be right behind him, like this. No pride, no nothing.”

Duncan, thank you very much, was marvelous in Game 6 (30 points, 17 rebounds) and consistently still pulls his weight, which has dropped by some 25 pounds the last two seasons, a major factor in his renaissance.

So who knows? Maybe the Spurs win tonight and Duncan joins Robinson on the Spurs’ old-timer’s squad. He’s never seemed driven — or possessed — like Kobe Bryant to catch Michael Jordan at six rings. Maybe the Spurs win it all and Duncan wants more. Maybe the Spurs lose and he decides he can’t go through it again, or that he must. Who knows?

One day though, that day will come. When Duncan calls it quits, when Pop follows and when Manu returns home.

We just don’t know, as improbable as it might seem, if that day will be tomorrow.

40 Comments

  1. PuroSA says:

    Please don’t speculate on Duncan retiring win or lose he will honor his contract to the end. Go SPURS Go two more years.

  2. GoMavs says:

    I can’t believe this, Duncan is putting up supurb numbers and is about to win a championship and this guy is saying he is done? I guess that it’s a tradition for the nba.com articals writers to put up one of these posts every year!

  3. Kaneman says:

    Same talk as every season, the Spurs stay as they are.

  4. amigo says:

    Spurs will win tonight 90- 84

  5. SafeandSound says:

    Ah I was wondering when this article would show up. Every year some writer posts an article whether it’s the Spurs, Celtics, Lakers, etc last year of relevance before rebuilding. Must be the the 5th season in a row I’ve seen one pop up for the Spurs. But hey, if you guys keep posting one every season and you’re bound to be right eventually!

  6. Teid says:

    Respect to the Spurs! A dynasty built, not bought. I hope Spurs beat Miami Heat, and this is coming from a Celtics fan. Go out on a highnote, Duncan! Make them remember!!

    • CK says:

      Well said, Teid. I fully agree, and if any Heat fans need some proof of this, look at the Bulls, the Lakers, and the Celtics. Heck, you can even throw in the Pistons of the 80′s.

      Whatever the result is tonight, it would be great to see if the Spurs would make one more run at it, but if not, I really appreciate the years watching the Spurs.

  7. GoMavs says:

    WOW! This is artical is soo stuipid! Just watch the Spurs come back next year and get the 1st or 2nd best record in the West! Last Rodeo? LOLOL

    Spurs will also win game 7 BOOOOO HEAT!

  8. Unkle Daddy says:

    Just for the record the Spurs won game 6, but all you jock-hangers-on of “The King” didn’t see it.

  9. POP says:

    THIS IS GAME 7 THE BLOOD ,AND SWEAT,TEARS.THIS WHAT YOU WORK FOR ALL YEAR LONG. SEND THE SPURS BACK TEXAS. GO HEAT.

  10. Mike says:

    Heat will win by blowout.. Jeff Caplan’s prediction of spurs winning in 6 is nonsense.

  11. The Truth says:

    After the Spurs loose tonight, Ducan and Manu will announce their retirement. I have seen this in my dreams last night and it will be reality, just watch.

  12. AKA says:

    rip spurs

  13. Jm says:

    Great Coach + Great Players = Great Team…

    Thanks SPURS..

    GO SPURS GO..

  14. Erlo says:

    Spurs need to pour their resources into getting a very young big man that can take Duncan’s place. Let them learn under him for 2 years, pay Timmy to stay along a little longer, even if it means sitting the bench and playing more coach than player. Worked for Timmy with David Robinson.

  15. Andy says:

    HEAT me baby one more time!!!
    by:Britney SPURS..

  16. TTKIN says:

    When Duncan and Pop leave, it’ll be a sad day for the NBA.

    -Laker fan

  17. LOLakers says:

    LOL!!!! Move aside grandpa!!! This is Lebron’s league now!!!! You are nothing but a washed up nobody not even worthy of licking Lebron’s shoes!!! You are nothing and I hope Lebron obliterates you in game 7!!!! Heat 10-peat!!!!

    • ... says:

      Did you fall on your head at some point of your sad life?

      • kamaliel23 says:

        Let my fans express how ever they like! We all know that I will go beast mode tonight! That’s not all, as soon as I …wait, give a sec. … where the heat is my headband? BRB

    • Bart says:

      Lebron should kiss Allen for a long time.
      He got lucky, but not Allen who has skills to shoot like that. Lebron saw the end, but it was Allen who changed everything!!!

  18. It will be very hard to find replacements for guys like Tony, Manu, and Duncan. It will also be very sad. But, some of the other, younger Spurs can form trios of their own.

  19. TTKIN says:

    People question the Spurs every eyar. Havent you learned to stop yet haha?

  20. omygooo says:

    stupid journalist, every year the same oooooooold thing, older than the spurs :)
    last rodeo.
    is this your last article ?

  21. Sílvio Oliveira says:

    There are no words to describe the feelings that this Spurs gave me all this years.
    The high times of David Robinson, the coming of Timmy to the team and the much deserved ascension of the Spurs that lead to the first championship. The second championship and the most painful moment while watching David Robinson say goddbye. Tears, lots of tears. The arrival of Manu and Parker. The constant wins, 2 more championships. Happy days.
    Then comes news of Duncan retirement, and that awfull feeling of having a huge part of your life end. This next hours will be of an excrutiating pain. Wayting for the game to begin, Wanting for the game to never end and at the same time wanting it to be over.
    Winning or losing, It really doesn’t matter Timmy. Either way, you shall go out on top, and i shall remain forever proud to be a Spurs fan, a Tim Duncan fan. Forever.

  22. iivviiccaa79 says:

    you just wish that some players would never leave the game, like playing it forever…

  23. Sílvio Oliveira says:

    There are no words to describe the feelings that this Spurs gave me all this years.
    The high times of David Robinson, the coming of Timmy to the team and the much deserved ascension of the Spurs that lead to the first championship. The second championship and the most painful moment while watching David Robinson say goddbye. Tears, lots of tears. The arrival of Manu and Parker. The constant wins, 2 more championships. Happy days.
    Then comes news of Duncan retirement, and that awfull feeling of having a huge part of your life end. This next hours will be of an excrutiating pain. Wayting for the game to begin, Wanting for the game to never end and at the same time wanting it to be over.
    Winning or losing, It really doesn’t matter Timmy. Either way, you shall go out on top, and i shall remain forever proud to be a Spurs fan, a Tim Duncan fan. Forever.

    • allen iverson says:

      dont forget bowen! he did help san antonio

    • Ismael Herrera says:

      Beautiful… Brought tears to my eyes.. That’s exactly how I feel! Thank you

    • Kei says:

      don’t forget the tank season including the human highlight film. That was the worst time but then duncan makes it ALL RIGHT!

  24. Marco29 says:

    Tim Duncan is the anchor of the Spurs and his relationship wih Pop is one of a kind. If they win game 7 he might decide to retire. Even if he is still playing at a high level, it would be well deserved rest and a exist at the top. Even if Spurs lose game 7 and he still walks, he will be remembered as one of the games greatest and a fierce competitor. Finding a replacement will be very difficult for the Spurs and we are not only talking about numbers but mentality and thoughness.
    We may witness the end of an era with the departure of this future hall of famer.

  25. Yep, this is their last rodeo. Just like in Boston this Spurs team will not reach the top again after this season. The West is becoming too young and too tough. GSW, Rockets, LAC and OKC will dominate in the next 2 years. And if Denver and Grizz both find a good coach I give them a good chance too!

  26. Kim Harper says:

    Duncan is going to be around as long as he wants to be. Even after the Spurs win tonight.

  27. Joy says:

    Congrats to Tim, Tony, Manu and the Spurs for an exciting year and for winning their 5 championship! Go Spurs!

  28. ncarpenter says:

    Tim Duncan will play his last game
    “A Heart of Fire for the Love of The Final Game”.. Watch out… Tim doesn’t like 2 loose
    If this is his last game & retires.. that his decision…I want 2 Say Thank U 4 giving San Antonio Fans -championships….Win 2 Tonight!!! ..Go Spurs Go

  29. See Ya Again Spurs! says:

    I don’t know what will happen if those 3 leave that very successful organization.Much like MJ’s retirement

  30. gonzalo says:

    Damn where did time go ??? Hopefully they can give as at least one or two more years. I was fortunate enough to see TD since his rookie year.