Why don’t more stars want to be like Tim Duncan?

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In Saturday’s New York Times, Harvey Araton has a piece on Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, comrades in court action, and how different they stand from the modern generation of market-chasing, self-aggrandizing drama queens that currently permeate the landscape. Let’s start here: I’m an NBA modernist. I don’t go for the “back in my day…” crap because there have always been egomaniacs, there will always be egomaniacs at this level of professional sports, and in reality, it’s most often a good thing. But Duncan and Popovich stand as something completely different and offer an alternative way to handle yourselves.

Imagine a superstar who doesn’t undermine his coach, doesn’t balk at touches or direction and doesn’t chafe at the idea of discipline. Then imagine that player has enjoyed 13 years of NBA title contention. Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that? From the NY Times:

“Unlike some other guys, I’ve been lucky,” he said. “With the teams we’ve had, with the focus of the people here wanting to put winning teams together, of having a system and sticking to it. There’s no better way to do it. It’s a special situation, obviously, and everybody can’t have it.

“In other places, coaches come in and out, and there are guys who have four or five in the same amount of years, and that’s a situation I can see why you’d want to get out of. But people changing for size of market? That I really don’t understand.”

When Duncan was asked if any of the young N.B.A. power brokers — for instance, Dwight Howard, who reportedly went backdoor in an attempt to oust Coach Stan Van Gundy in Orlando while refusing to commit to the franchise beyond next season — had ever sought his counsel on the benefits of laying deep roots, he shook his head and said, simply, “Nope.”

Told of the exchange, R. C. Buford, the Spurs’ general manager, laughed and said, “Very few people can have a conversation with Tim that would last long enough for them to get that much out of it.”

via In San Antonio, Duncan and Popovich Work Well Together – NYTimes.com.

Don’t talk. Don’t say anything. Just do your job and win titles.

Now, we may be on the verge of seeing a return of this mindset. Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, these guys are the new model of appropriate action. John Wall, were he to be put in the position to succeed, certainly seems the type. But for players that talk so much about winning and then do things like request trades to the Nets, maybe looking at the greatest power forward of all time might give you an idea that you don’t have to act like Jordan and Kobe to succeed. There is a way to win with dignity in this league.

But maybe the money really just is that important.

Manu Ginobili receives standing ovation upon exiting what may be his final game

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Manu Ginobili is a four-time NBA champion, a two-time All-NBA player,  two-time All-Star, and a Sixth Man of the Year.

He’s also the most popular Spur of his generation — walk around San Antonio, even at the peak of the Spurs runs, and you saw more Ginobili jerseys than Duncan or Parker or Robinson or anyone else. Ginobili is beloved.

When he was taken out near the end of Game 4, maybe his final game as a Spur, the fans erupted into a standing ovation (joined by Stephen Curry, who stepped away from the free throw line to let the moment happen).

Ginobili hinted during the season this would be his last, but has said repeatedly during the playoffs he didn’t know what he would do during the season. He looked like he had game left in the tank during the Western Conference Finals (he had 15 points in Game 4 and was one of the Spurs best players in the series). The question is, at age 40 next season, will he want to go through all the work it takes to get physically ready for the next season.

Warriors take control early, hold off Spurs to sweep series, advance to NBA Finals

Associated Press
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This series was decided early in the second half of Game 1, when Kawhi Leonard’s ankle rolled. He never got back on the court in the next three games, the Spurs were +21 when he was on in that first game and -85 the rest of the way. Without his defense on one end and shot creation on the other the Spurs could not match up.

The Spurs didn’t play like it was over Monday night — while the Warriors would hit threes and go on runs, the Spurs would answer back never let them completely pull away. They got buckets from Kyle Anderson (20 points off the bench) and 15 from Manu Ginobili in what may have been his final NBA game (he got the start, and the crowd erupted when he was taken out near the end).

It wasn’t enough. The Golden State Warriors were the better team — maybe even if Leonard had played — and they were in control of this game the entire way, getting 36 points from Stephen Curry and 29 from Kevin Durant.

The Warriors went on to win 125-110 and sweep the Spurs 4-0. Golden State swept through the West undefeated at 12-0, and they will take on the winner of the East (we all know it will be Cleveland). The Finals don’t begin until June 1.

This is the Warriors third straight trip to the Finals.

“Our chemistry is getting better and better,” Durant said after the game. “We’re going to need it even more in the next series, whoever we play, we’re just looking forward to it. I’m glad we got this done.”

There was a lot of respect between the teams after the series, particularly for Ginobili.

“Somebody I grew up watching, amazing competitor, even more fun playing against him,” Durant said after the game. “I got nothing but love and respect for him, plus he wear my shoes every year so that’s a plus. He was phenomenal this series.”

There also was a feeling among fans that we were robbed of a good series by the injury to Leonard (and the cheap play by Zaza Pachulia that caused it). Without Leonard (and Tony Parker) the Spurs struggled to create shots and generate consistent offense against a stout Warriors defense.

It was evident at the start of Game 4. San Antonio opened game 3-of-16 shooting, but the bigger issue is they went 1-of-8 in the paint against a Warriors team that started small (Patrick McCaw instead of JaVale McGee). Meanwhile, the Spurs were 7-of-7 in the paint to start the game. That is why the Warriors raced out to a quick 12 point lead midway through the first quarter.

The game hung around the 10-point era until an 11-0 Warriors run midway through the second quarter. The Spurs kept fighting, they had 13 more shots than the Warriors in the first half — thanks to 9 Golden State turnovers and 8 San Antonio offensive boards — but the Spurs shot 34.5 percent in the first half, and it wasn’t enough because the Warriors shot 60 percent. The Warriors shot 74 percent (14-of-19) in the second quarter. Because of that it was Warriors 65, Spurs 51 at the half, and Curry and Durant each had 18 for Golden State; Kyle Anderson has 10 points to lead the Spurs.

The second half saw the lead bounce between 10 and 20 most of the time, the Spurs would make a little run and the Warriors would answer with some crisp ball movement and a three. Curry was 5-of-13 from three on the night to lead the way.

Draymond Green added 16 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists for the Warriors.

Now the Warriors get more than a week off to rest and prepare for the Finals.

Kevin Durant blocks Dejounte Murray twice on one shot (VIDEO)

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Kevin Durant was doing it all in the first half — he had 18 points to lead the Warriors (tied with Stephen Curry) and was making plays all over the court.

That includes racing back on this play and blocking Dejounte Murray‘s layup. Twice. On one shot.

The Warriors have led by 20 and been in control through the start of the third quarter. KD was at the heart of that.

Draymond Green flops to sell call, Gregg Popovich just laughs

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That was a foul. Jonathan Simmons caught Draymond Green in the face as he reached in.

But the delayed then overly-dramatic reaction by Green is a classic flop.

We’ll see if the NBA fined Green for this, but Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich was amused.