In less than a calendar year, the San Antonio Spurs have gone from World Champs to 1st Round Exiters. **Only the 5th time this has happened since the early 80’s.
Granted it took an amazing shot from Chris Paul to knock them out, but knock them out it did. That shot leaves only two things to now watch in the NBA world:
- The playoffs – as they continue (Here’s a great preview of Hawks v. Wizards as an example)
- Tim Duncan – does he retire?
The playoffs are fun and the volume of close games will continue to intensify (although the Clips/Spurs series was terrifically entertaining). However, Duncan’s decision will have greater long-term consequences than this year’s champ. When he steps off the stage, so will Pop, and so will the Spurs.
The reality is Father Time is especially cruel in the NBA. Last year, Duncan and Co. looked (and were) unstoppable. Just ask LeBron and D-Wade. The Heat got beat and beat bad. (Lebron looked around and voted with his feet (and wallet) on the future outlook of the Heat.)
Fast-forward 1 year:
- Ginobli’s on the bench in the last 5 minutes of a game 7.
- Tony Parker cannot check Chris Paul on crucial possessions and
- the Spurs biggest plays are being made by Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard. Duncan did make two stay-alive free-throws before CP’s shot.
My guess is that Duncan’s done. He played well this series, but he knows they (the Spurs) are only getting older. Unlike Kobe who doesn’t want to ever hang it up, TD has a sense of his time and his time’s conclusion.
His footwork is still what every aspiring post-player should watch. Go on YouTube and study it if you’re playing. But his surrounding cast is tired and tiring. Congratulations to the Clips and Spurs, but know that you saw the end of an era last night.