SAN ANTONIO – Tim Duncan conducted his postgame interview flanked by his two children. Someday soon he may decide that they, and not Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, will be his full-time running mates.
Duncan’s eventual retirement – whether it’s next week, next summer, or after the next championship – probably won’t end what’s been a 15-year run at or near the top for the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs looked better than ever in demolishing the Miami Heat in five games for their fifth championship, finishing it off with a 104-87 victory Sunday that set off a horn-honking celebration that lasted deep into the night.
With good players in place and perhaps unmatched leadership at the top that will find more, the Spurs don’t figure to go away, even when their big man in the middle finally does.
True, the 38-year-old Duncan realizes the end is near, though he won’t say and perhaps doesn’t know how close it is. Ginobili will be 37 next month and may be entering the last stage of his career as well.
But Parker shows no signs of slowing down, NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard looks ready for an even bigger role, and coach Gregg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford, whom commissioner Adam Silver called “perhaps the greatest GM-coach combination in all of sports,” have shown they can find good players and make them better once they don the silver and black.
“We’ve adapted and come out here and been able to win another championship,” Duncan said. “So proud. It’s unbelievable.”
Popovich’s ability to manage minutes in the regular season, keeping his stars fresh and providing valuable experience for his role players, could position San Antonio for another lengthy playoff run. But there will be eager challengers ready to pounce, particularly if the Spurs just don’t have the same hunger after being driven through this season by the pain of last year’s finals loss.