5 For 21
I’m a sentimentalist. A sap, if you will.
My favorite part of every playoff series is the moments after the final game, when the two teams shake hands, share hugs, encouragement, laughter, and whatever else it is that competitors do. I just love these moments. To me, this is sportsmanship and competitive nature at its purest and most platonically perfect. The Spurs have always been especially “good” at these post-series meetings. Partly because they are winning so many of them; partly because it’s hard to find a team, coach, executive, or player in the league that doesn’t respect the hell out of the organization. “Playing the right way” is a popular phrase, and one often applied to the Spurs. But it transcends the Xs and Os on the court. It’s also about comportment, the way in which a team fights and competes with honor and grace and controlled ferocity. The Spurs go about their business; but they’re not assholes.
So I’ve watched in sentimental glee on three separate occasions this post-season.
But I’ve noticed another post-series ritual developing that I love even more: the Spurs all racing to embrace and just be in the orbit of Tim Duncan.
You can see just how badly this team wants to win the title for Duncan. And it’s moving as hell to this sentimentalist. “Win one for the Gipper” is as tired as cliches get, but we may be as close to its embodiment as we’ll ever come as sports fans in our lifetimes. Parker literally promised Duncan he’d get him back here. After Game 3 in Memphis, Blair, Neal, and Mills were all draped off Duncan walking back to the locker room, knowing that they were almost assured of a return trip to the Finals for their beloved big man.
And here we are, just 4 wins away from Duncan’s 5th title. 4 wins against the most ferocious team we’ll play all season.
4 wins away from taking Duncan’s already historic legacy to even greater heights.
4 wins away from the most perfect cap to Duncan’s career (even though I think he plays next year, regardless).
4 wins away from giving the franchise’s most important player ever the one thing he wants the most.
I’ve never wanted a series win more, simply for our team’s soul, Mr. Tim Duncan.
So 5 for 21 isn’t our hoped for box score from the Heat’s Big 3; it’s the Spurs rallying cry over the next 2 weeks.
5 for 21.
Go Spurs Go.
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