What The Spurs Have Done Was Just Plain Sick!!

By Gregory Moore
Updated: September 5, 2005

SAN ANTONIO, TX. It wasn’t too long ago that the San Antonio Spurs were the butt of jokes from fans of such teams as the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls. It wasn’t too long ago that free agents would not even think of coming to San Antonio because they were not proven winners of anything important. It wasn’t that long ago that this city’s fan base would boo their own team for the ineptness it showed in the playoffs. But slowly, the wheels of change turned a mediocre franchise into one of the most mirrored commodities in the NBA. It took exactly a dozen years for this franchise to go from being one of the league’s so-so teams to now being one of the elite franchises in modern time. As Troy and Babylon fell in the1990s, it seemed the Atlantis was rising from it’s watery grave and taking the perch. There is a reason why the Spurs have been able to lure key free agents to this city now and it has everything to do with how the team is ran, how it plays and how it surrounds itself with assets that make even the big names ponder a change in direction. In other words, the 2005-06 San Antonio Spurs roster is so complete that it is making some NBA fans sick to their stomach including Spurs fans.

What R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich have been able to do is to amass a roster for this upcoming season that shows just how successful this team is at this stage of its existence. Like champions of old, this current Spurs roster has been able to keep a good core nucleus together and still be able to attract free agents to come and be part of the experience. Two seasons ago, the main acquisition was Robert Horry. Last season, Brent Barry was the summer flavor. The front office made a trade for Nazr Muhammad that upset many because a favorite was leaving in Malik Rose but the fans soon understood how important that move was. Even the addition of Glenn Robinson late in the season showed that this team was about winning. Now this summer’s two biggest names have helped set the NBA world on its collective ear. Former Dallas Mavericks teammates Nick Van Exel and Michael Finley have joined an already impressive roster and that’s the talk of the basketball sports world. With Robinson gone, the Spurs are still as dangerous as ever. To make the situation more palatable for Spurs fans, the roster is so balanced, so deep in talent, it is a scary situation into thinking who could knock this team out of being back-to-back champions. Seventy win season from this roster? It’s a possibility? A training camp that may have one new surprise? Just a token player is now needed to fill out the practice roster.

TOP TO BOTTOM A COMPLETE ROSTER FOR WINNING ANOTHER TITLE What the 2005 champions lacked was serious firepower down the stretch. Now this doesn’t mean that the team couldn’t win because it won quite often. However when you start looking back at the stretches where the offense was stagnant, the outside shooting was still the prevailing issue of the day and of last season. Enter Van Exel and Finley as the solution to the equation. If the starting five for this upcoming season is Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Bruce Bowen, Tim Duncan and Muhammad, then what would the rotations be for Popovich and his staff? How about this second string of players: Van Exel, Finley, Barry, Horry and Fabricio Oberto. That leaves Rasho Nesterovic and Beno Udrich as the last two guys on the bench with Linton Johnson III being odd man out for roster activation.

For the coaching staff, the nightmare has to be where you insert guys during crucial times. For the Spurs this upcoming season, they can actually force teams to adjust to them more than ever. Look at just the ten-man rotation outlined and look at the combinations you can come up with to create some serious match up problems. Want shooters who will kill a double team? The line up could be Van Exel, Ginobili, Finley, Horry and Duncan. Want a strong defensive presence but still have some guard play? Try Parker, Van Exel, Barry, Duncan and Muhammad. Want to grind it out with big guys and force pick and roll mismatches? How about Van Exel, Finley, Barry, Oberto and Muhammad as a line up. In other words the rotations for the other team would be hard pressed to stop just any one guy on this roster.

With that said, in the back of my mind is the fact that this team is so talented that it could very easily slip into what I call the Portland Trailblazer’s syndrome. This anomaly is very wicked at times. The Trailblazers of the late 1990s were so deep and talented that on paper they should have been winning three or four titles. However what had happened was that selfishness beset this squad and they became underachievers during that time frame. Now luckily for the Spurs this may not be the case as many of the free agents came to this team looking to play a role on the success of the franchise. Van Exel and Finley could definitely play starting roles some place else but they know that their success this late in their careers is going to be taking the back seat like Horry has done much of his career and just contribute. If that premise holds true, then this current roster should have no problems gelling, competing and winning tough games during a season where they will be the king of the mountain and everybody else is looking to knock them off.

LOCAL PLAYER MAY BE LEAVING BUT IT’S REALLY FOR THE BEST Some San Antonio Spurs fans may not like what I have to say about Devin Brown leaving but if they were true to themselves, they would understand the sentiment being displayed on these pages. So here goes: Devin, I’m glad you played for your home team now pack your bags, get the hell out of town and go make some real money. Last Thursday, Brown signed an offer sheet from the Utah Jazz for $2.5 million for this season. Ironically Brown is going to go play for the city where he was born, Salt Lake City. For Brown, who grew up right here in the Alamo City, he has lived a very charmed life where he played his complete basketball career in front of family. From high school, through college and into the NBA, Brown has truly been blessed to take a very quick opportunity and parlay it into a career that is every bit of what he expected. So why should Spurs fans begrudge him for going or for anyone saying that he needs to leave? Because for the most part they are selfish. You can’t really blame them right now, can you? To have a local kid play along side the likes of Finley and Duncan? Hey that’s big time. Yet that is not going to be the case as this week, the Spurs will let Devin walk barring some last minute trade that send Nesterovic and Udrich out of the city.

So from one local kid to the next, thanks DB for making us local folks know that fairytales do come true. We’ll be rooting for you most of the season except for those four times that the Jazz have to play the Spurs. Its just business but you know that already.

GEARING UP FOR A SCHOLARSHIP SEMINAR I’ve been toiling around with this idea for a hot minute and locally I am putting together a seminar for high school students who are student athletes. That seminar is going to be sometime in December but I wanted to let the national audience in on a website and service that wholeheartedly endorse. The company is The Athletic Group (www.theathleticgroup.com) and Greg Proel and his staff are doing some tremendous work up in the Maryland and surrounding areas. Folks I’m gong to implore all the parents out there that have student athletes to check out Proel’s site and services his company has to offer. The seminar that I am constructing will be relying heavily on exposing parents and students to the aspects of getting these monies but it’s Proel’s expertise that I will be referring my attendees too when this seminar takes place.

This is the perfect time for parents to start putting together information for their young men and women but we are all aware of the fact that too many parents simply do not know where to go. That is why TAG is such an important part of this whole process; they can help you get the right sources of information and assist you in the scholarship process when that time arises. If there are parents out there who need more information about scholarships and how to get them, contact Proel via his website, www.theathleticgroup.com or e-mail me at gmoore@blackathlete.net for information about the local event I am coordinating or on how to get in touch with the guys at TAG.

The time is now parents for you to start looking at the future of your child’s education and if they are gifted in athletics, there is no excuse for not trying to obtain a scholarship to defray the costs. TAG can help you do it; I can attest to that fact unequivocally.