In Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, the Spurs’ “Big 3” of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili became the all-time winningest trio in NBA Playoff history. Nobody in the league’s vast antiquity—spanning more than six decades—have done it better than they have. Not Johnson-Abdul-Jabbar-Scott, not Jordan-Pippen-Rodman, not Bird-McHale-Parish.
“Today, I spend my days in treatment. But the good news is that I will play the first game of the Finals on Thursday against the Heat. I may not be 100% but I’ll be there. In 13 years, I played seven conference finals and I have the chance to play my fifth Finals with Spurs. This is really great. I continue my dream, this is really something great,” Parker told the media prior to Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals.
If you were to dissect the structure of Spurs, you’d find the three of them: nothing more, nothing less.
Call it poetic justice, but the trio has woven the most unlikely and simultaneously successful narrative perhaps ever. It’s a storyline that brought three men—each born no less than 3,900 miles apart—together to create memories for us.
The trio has carved 113 wins since coming together during the 2002-2003 season. Still, they’re told repeatedly that they’re worn down, feeble.
“A lot of times this year I’ve been told I looked weak, vulnerable, fragile. I have no reason to hide. I’m no less of a man for feeling that way or for having played poorly. Yes, so what’s the problem? I will be criticized? Fine. I swear I gave everything I had and I tried to win, like I always have.
“Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. I won’t blush or feel embarrassed for saying it. I felt vulnerable and I expressed it. I didn’t have a reason not to. It’s true. It was the first time I’ve felt that way,” Ginobili told an Argentinian paper prior to this season.
Moving like phantoms across the hardcourt, the Duncan-Parker-Ginobili trio is looking for ring No. 4 as a unit in 2013-14. There’s no reason to believe they can’t do it.
Ask any of them and they’ll tell you reflection is weakness wrapped in nostalgia, so they simply don’t dwell. Despite being less than ten seconds from an NBA title in 2013, Duncan says their priorities haven’t shifted in the least.
“We wanted the Heat. People keep talking about it like we weren’t close to winning it. We were ready last year, and we just couldn’t get over that hump. We’re happy to be back here this year, we’re happy to have another opportunity at it. We’re happy that it’s the Heat again. We’ll be ready for them. We’ve got some experience, obviously, from last year against them, and we’ll go back and look at some film. And we’ve got that bad taste in our mouths still. Hopefully, we’ll be ready to take it this time.”
We;;, maybe they’ve dwelled headed into this year’s NBA Finals. In reality, they’ve focused. Perhaps a 1-0 lead—their second straight—in the NBA Finals won’t help. But the San Antonio Spurs are a generation-defining franchise, one that has innovated and transcended the sport for years.
If there’s one thing about the genetic makeup of this team that you can’t discount, it’s willpower.
A trio is only as strong as it’s vernacular. For the San Antonio Spurs, it’s defined by one word: redemption.