The 2013-14 NBA season is now officially over, and I definitely want to send out my congratulations to the Spurs on winning the NBA championship.
The Spurs are such a great team that I thought it would be appropriate to write my second blog entry about what makes them unique, specifically their star trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, because they’re a really inspirational group that young players in the league, like me, can look up to.
Manu speaks to the mentality all the Spurs have of doing whatever they are asked to do for the good of the team. They needed him to be a spark off the bench, so he said, ‘Okay, I’ll do it,’ and thrived in that position.
I love the way he plays the game. Manu is actually one of the reasons I chose number 20 when I was younger. I just loved watching him play.
When he was younger, he attacked the basket a lot more, and I liked the way he used different steps to get by guys and finished around the rim. He’s one of the guys who introduced the Euro Step and all those types of moves into the NBA. He still uses those moves now, but obviously he’s a little bit older and has had to transform his game. He’s not afraid to take big shots, though, and is very capable of threading the needle to get the ball to a teammate. I love that about his game.
They obviously have a very talented backcourt. Tony Parker is a tough guard. He’s extremely quick, and one of those guys where if you try to get up and pressure him, it almost automatically results in a wide-open shot from somebody else.
Our whole scheme for him this year was just to try to keep him outside the paint, because when he gets in the paint, you have problems. He’s too good once he gets in there between his ability to find different guys, and his ability to knock down those floaters. So you kind of want to force him to shoot outside jump shots. A lot of teams try to put a bigger guy on him to use their length, and not let him get into the paint and force him to shoot jump shots. You saw Miami do that this series. But he can hit jump shots, too, and when his shot is on, he’s almost unstoppable. To me, he’s still kind of underrated. Not many people talk about him, but he’s quietly become one of the best point guards in the league over the past five or 10 years.
Of course, you can’t talk about the Spurs without mentioning Tim Duncan. He’s a guy I have extreme respect for.
He’s a winner. Along with his major contributions, he does the little things that people don’t notice. He’s one of the best big man screeners in the league. I hate going against him because he sets great screens, sticks his hip out there, and holds the screens really well. When you’re coming off, he does just enough to hold you up a little bit, too. He has a lot of those little veteran moves that don’t show up, and nobody really sees.
But when you’re guarding Parker or Ginobili, and he’s coming off the screen, a lot of times that’s how they get wide open going down the lane. You get clipped coming off of his screen, or you have to go extra wide so you don’t run into him. I love that about his game. He does all the little things besides everything else that he does to help his team win.
To be able to do what he’s done for this long is incredible, especially being a big man. Most big guys wear down physically, so it’s unbelievable what he’s able to do.
I think it probably starts with his work habits and ethic. You always hear what a hard worker he is. If you want to stay in the league for as long as he has and still be effective, your work habits have to be top tier. You have to constantly be at it every single summer, every single offseason, and during the season, continuing to stretch and maintain yourself in the weight room and through eating habits. I’m only 24, so I haven’t felt it yet, but I’m sure as you get older, your body just wears down a lot quicker, so that just means you have to work even harder to maintain that level of excellence.
Basketball is a game. It’s fun, and it’s what we do for a living. But it’s also a job, and you’ve got to approach it like a job. You’ve got to get up, even on days where you don’t want to, and go to work. Those guys have been doing that for nearly two decades, and it’s a credit to their work ethic and professionalism.
It something that we younger guys should really look up to.