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Holding Pattern

By Jeff Koch on March 8, 2012.

Despite the big win against the Knicks, I’m still unimpressed with what I’m seeing from the Spurs currently. The team still seems to be in a lull, juggling many different moving parts that will-hopefully-result in something much better. Things certainly looked better against the Knicks…but Amar’e’s and Carmelo’s defense has a tendency to do that for a lot of teams and players. I’m much more interested in the upcoming games: Clippers, Magic, Mavs, and Thunder, with the Wizards thrown in for good measure.

The most interesting thing to come out of the Knicks game might be what Ginobili said after the game. Basically, he reiterated what he has been saying for some time: the Spurs are Tony Parker’s team now. I have no doubt that Ginobili believes this. And he’s the type of selfless and egoless player to say it, mean it, and not care a lick about it.

But this also has some sound psychological strategy behind it that could pay huge dividends down the line. In many ways, this is and will always be Duncan’s team. But the deference he ears (and deserves) comes precisely from him not treating the team as his, as something to lord over. His actions and words carry weight precisely because he delivers them without it. For the last few years, the heart of the team has belonged to Ginobili, though, the kind of fierce and fiery leader who is easy to rally behind. But Ginobili doesn’t need that respect or command to burn, to win, to be a leader. It’s just his force of personality.

Parker is a different story, though. He plays better when he is engaged, when he is active, and when he can pull the strings of the offense. An engaged Parker is an MVP candidate Parker, the type of player that can will a team through a slow stretch in a half, a game, and even a season. The type of player that can sometimes win you games singlehandedly.

Being the youngest, he is often overlooked and overshadowed, and often deferential to the other 2 of the Big 3. This Tony Parker is not as good as the Parker we’re seeing now. Duncan and Ginobili will always be fine, always be who they are. But a Tony Parker with swagger is a deadly weapon, and makes the team much more dangerous than most people anticipate. Ginobili knows this, and knows that hearing the team is his will give Parker the confidence to play like the elite PG he is more often. “Swagger” Parker might just be the player the team has been missing these last few years, that extra oomph needed to compete in the playoffs.

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