Manu Ginobili looked like his old self, Monday night. Coach Greg Popovich had his much-deserved Coach-of-the-Year trophy tucked away at his home and the San Antonio Spurs had swept the Utah Jazz in four straight.
Sounds like old times. Could this be San Antonio’s year again?
Not only is Spur fever raising its head in San Antonio but it is extending all the way to Pleasanton and the rest of South Texas.
My only daughter Margaret came home Saturday to watch the Spurs game with me and wanted to know if I still had some old “Go Spurs” flags she could attach to her car.
Even one of my sons, the oldest – who has never been into the sports scene like the rest of my kids, said Monday night that he’d like to go see a Spurs’ game at the AT&T Center. Michael couldn’t care less if the Houston Astros or the Dallas Cowboys ever win another game – but he got excited Monday night. And he didn’t even watch the entire 87-81 win by the Spurs.
Here at the Express everybody was talking Spurs Tuesday morning. Hope Garza, our front office secretary who is probably one of the biggest Spurs fans in Pleasanton, wasn’t wearing her Tim Duncan shirt (no. 21) because she finally had to take it off to wash it.
Just as I sat down to write this column, I had the pleasure of meeting Taylor Fojtik, an 8-year old thirdgrader who just happens to be one of the little girls in a Pizza Commercial made by Coach Popovich and some of the Spurs. She said Tiago Splitter was her favorite Spur player and boldly predicted that the Spurs would win the NBA championship.
Even Shaquille O’Neil and Charles Barkley of the TNT basketball crew were conceding that this might be the Spurs’ year. The part I liked the best though was when Kenny “The Jet” Smith said that the Spurs’ success is due to their “system.” In other words San Antonio is winning because of their awesome bench and the way Popovich has put it together and manages it. For example, In Monday’s win over the Jazz, the Spurs’ second team outscored the Jazz bench 57-10. Can there be any question why the Spurs are in better shape at the end of the game when their opponents run out of gas. It was also noted that three of the Spurs bench players scored in double figures led by Ginobili’s game-high 17 points.
And there have been no complaints lately on how Popovich rests his players during the season. Just ask the Chicago Bulls, the No. 1 seed in the West who have lost starters Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah and are on the brink of playoff elimination.
Tony Parker put it in per- spective when he said that the Spurs’ second unit is as good as many starting fives in the league. “When the starters go out there is no difference. Ball movement is the same. Everybody touches the ball and the team continues to play Spurs basketball.”
I’m sure that the league’s playoff teams still playing didn’t want to see Ginobili get going but he certainly looked like his old self in hitting key three-point shots and leading the team in scoring while Tony Parker had an off night.
Did you notice that when Ginobili had a chance to score on a uncontested run at the basket in the final seconds of the game he laid it up cleanly off the glass instead of dunking it?
So much for Tim Duncan’s classroom work on how to dunk.