SAN ANTONIO — The Spurs are on the verge of winning a fifth NBA title since drafting Tim Duncan back in 1997, and have made the playoffs in each of the last 17 seasons.
It’s been an incredible run that manages to keep on keeping on, despite the fact that every few years, the so-called experts who follow the league are quick to declare the team’s impending demise.
Tim Duncan and Tony Parker don’t appear to be the types who would bother trying to turn such nonsense into some form of internal motivation, but at Saturday’s media availability session, both of them separately brought up the fact that many had counted them out at various times in the past.
“We’ve been on our last run for the last five or six years from how everyone wants to put it,” Duncan said. “We show up every year, and we try to put together the best teams and the best runs possible because what people say doesn’t matter to us.”
Parker had a similar response, when asked why this season is different in that people don’t seem to be talking like this might be another of those supposedly final runs through the postseason.
“I don’t know,” Parker said. “You should talk to your colleagues, you know? You’ve been saying that for the last seven, eight years. I don’t know what to say. Every year the journalists keep saying the same stuff that we’re done and it’s the last run. I totally understand. We’re getting older every year, but we always come back and just keep pushing the limits, I guess, especially Timmy and Manu. We just keep playing great basketball.”
It was expected Kobe Bryant would retire at the end of this season.
It was not expected Kobe would make that official on Nov. 29 — it’s caught the media at Staples Center Sunday (of which I was one) and the fans by surprise.
In this PBT Extra, I talk with Jenna Corrado about the mood inside Staples Center Sunday.
More importantly, I discuss the sense I got that Kobe understands it’s time to walk away, and he is at peace with that.
Stephen Curry acknowledges the Warriors – who are 18-0 and won four straight to end last season – talk about the NBA record of 33 consecutive wins.
But what about another major record Golden State is chasing, 72 wins in a season?
Shooting guard Klay Thompson called it possible. General manager Bob Myers deemed it impossible.
Interim coach Luke Walton would prefer everyone just keep quiet.
Walton, via CSN Bay Area:
“The 72 thing is far, far away,” Walton said. “We shouldn’t be spending any time thinking about that.
“I’ve also said before that we’re not going to coach this season trying to chase that record,” Walton said
“We’re still going to give players nights off on back-to-backs,” he added. “And we’re going to do our best to limit minutes for some of our players. Our main concern is being healthy come playoff time.”
I don’t think Golden State will win 72 games, but prioritizing health won’t necessary stop the Warriors. They’re so deep.
They outscore opponents by 5.8 points per 100 possessions when Curry sits, 5.6 when Draymond Green sits. Those marks would rank seventh among all NBA teams.
Golden State has the luxury of resting players and continuing to win. That’s what makes the chase for 72 realistic. This team is less likely than most to wear down late in a season where it’s pushing to win every game.
Health entering the playoffs is important, but a 72-win season would raise these Warriors to legendary status. If they’re in range late in the season, I think they’ll go for it – even if the top seed is already secured.
But for now, Walton is probably taking the right approach. Plenty of teams start fast (though never this fast) then drift back toward the pack. No point risking Golden State’s health yet.
Kevin Durant once told the media, “You guys really don’t know s—.”
The Thunder star expressed regret, but if he knew how we were going to treat Kobe Bryant, he might have stuck to his guns.
Durant, via Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:
I did idolize Kobe Bryant. I studied him, wanted to be like him. He was our Michael Jordan. I watched Michael towards the end of his career when he was with the Wizards, and I seen that’s what Kobe emerged as the guy for us.
I’ve been disappointed this year because you guys treated him like s—. He’s a legend, and all I hear is about how bad he’s playing, how bad he’s shooting. It’s time for him to hang it up. You guys treated one of our legends like s—, and I didn’t really like it. So hopefully, now you can start being nice to him now that he decided to retire after this year. It was sad the way he was getting treated, in my opinion.
But he had just an amazing career, a guy who changed the game for me as a player mentally and physically. Means so much to the game of basketball. Somebody I’m always going to look to for advice, for help, for anything. Just a brilliant, brilliant, intelligent man. And it’s sad to see him go.
Kobe is shooting 20% from the floor and 30% on 3-pointers for a 2-14 team. How else should we describe his season?
Why not bash the person most publicly critical of Kobe? Or the many people around the NBA who recognize how far Kobe has fallen? Or Byron Scott, who has repeatedly intensified discussion of Kobe’s demise?
Why is the media, which is not some monolithic entity anyway, the primary target?
There are writers who fawn over Kobe, writers who criticize him and many more who do both. We don’t all think alike.
If we did, Durant would be bound to treat Kobe like s—, too.
Like many players, Hassan Whiteside posted a tribute to Kobe Bryant upon the Laker star’s retirement announcement.
But Whiteside’s is a bit, um, different.
Whiteside salutes himself for making Kobe smile. (That’s not a smile.) The Heat center also tweeted a screenshot of the Instagram post with the hashtag “
#koberetire,” which sounds pretty commanding.
Is Whiteside in on the joke or is he that self-centered? I’m honestly not entirely sure.