Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Yahoo! Sports: Spurs discuss trade for Bucks’ Jefferson


By Adrian Wojnarowski

The San Antonio Spurs are in serious discussions with the Milwaukee Bucks for forward Richard Jefferson, league executives told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday.

The proposed deal would have the Spurs send send veterans Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto to the Bucks, who are looking to shed the remaining two years, $29.2 million on Jefferson’s contract for the Spurs’ expiring contracts.

The deal isn’t completed, but league executives say both teams appear motivated to get it done.

Jefferson is the athletic, scoring forward that Spurs have craved to complement the aging tandem of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. The Spurs have been pursuing the New Jersey Nets Vince Carter too, but it appears Jefferson is the deal that they can make now.

After arriving in Milwaukee last summer from New Jersey, Jefferson averaged 19.6 points for the Bucks last season.

Bowen, 38, has been a staple of the past three Spurs championships and one of the NBA’s most dogged defenders.

Monday, June 22, 2009

SA Business Journal: Spurs Interested In Securing A Future NBA All-Star Game

by W. Scott Bailey

The NBA announced recently that it will take its 2011 All-Star Game to Los Angeles, which last hosted the festivities in 2004. Next February, the Metroplex will host the mega event in the billion-dollar Cowboys Stadium.

San Antonio has hosted the NBA All-Star Game once — in 1996 at the Alamodome. And now Rick Pych, president of business operations for Spurs Sports & Entertainment, says the franchise is interested in bringing the sport’s marquee players back to the Alamo City.

Houston hosted the 2006 NBA All-Star Game. It also hosted the event in 1989.

The 2010 NBA All-Star Game will be played at Cowboys Stadium, an 80,000-seat, retractable-roof venue located in Arlington. Some of the related events, including the Rookie Challenge, will be staged in Dallas — which hosted the 1986 NBA All-Star Game.

48 Minutes of Hell: Tiago Splitter, Trade Asset


Tiago Splitter, Trade Asset

The Draft is almost upon us. There have been several reports that the Spurs are looking to trade into the first round, with one rumor having them interested in Washington’s 5th pick. But, honestly, we heard similar things last year. The cold reality of limited assets and the tough business of locating agreeable trade partners quiets most of the rumor-mongering.

This year’s trade speculation rests against the backdrop of needed change, with almost all those who follow the Spurs calling for or expecting overhaul this offseason. Don Harris recently quoted Spurs color analyst and family member Sean Elliott saying, “…I would fully expect us to have a revamped team next season.” His expectation seems universal.

A few of our readers have asked, given the team’s limited assets, whether Tiago Splitter’s rights could help a trade proposal go through. If Splitter is not tied to the rookie scale, as we’ve previously argued, one would think his rights would hold some value, certainly more than we assumed a year ago.

Tiago Splitter projects as an NBA starter, or at least a quality rotation big. He’s only 24 years old, but has the professional experience of a seasoned vet. And in this topsy-turvy economy, one wonders if his buyout situation is not actually attractive to teams. Put differently, if you’re a team that is not enamored with adding a rookie to your 2009-10 payroll, acquiring the rights to a talented big who requires zero immediate payment (and won’t until at least next summer) is something of a win-win. You avoid the cap hit, but still get to add a valuable player to your pipeline. Looking at the bigs available in this draft, Splitter would probably rank with Jordan Hill and DeJuan Blair, not far behind Hasheem Thabeet. Some might rank him ahead of the other three.

If this is the case, why would the Spurs want to give him up? If he came to the team next season, he’s a lock for a productive 25 mpg.

The simple answer is that he provides an asset the team currently lacks. He’s the young prospect that could put a cap relief package over the top. And again, that’s with the added luxury of staying off the books until at least 2010.

The Spurs recent dalliance with Yiannis Bouroussis is an indicator that shoring up their front line is an immediate priority, one that Tim Duncan cannot afford for them to sit on for another year. I expect the team to target another big with their MLE (Charlie Villanueva?). Then there is the possibility of Ian Mahinmi bouncing back from injury and contributing to the rotation. And most of us expect that if Chris Bosh is available next summer, the Spurs will use their cap space to make a run at him, however unlikely the odds. Add all that up. Where does Tiago Splitter fit into the puzzle?

But that’s on the optimistic view. The pessimist is happy to respond by saying the Spurs could strike out in free agency, Mahinmi could flop, and the team could completely miss their 2010 free agent target. If some combination of those things were to occur, Splitter is a mighty nice insurance policy.

Obviously, he’s the sort of asset one doesn’t just give away. There is no question he benefits the team a year from now. The question, however, is could he benefit the team 4 days from now? And if so, to what degree and how?

So to our readers who’ve asked what value Splitter’s rights hold, my answer is a curiosity struck “dunno.” I’d like to think he could command a pick somewhere between 10 and 20, but I also see the world through shades of silver and black.

48 Minutes Of Hell: Trading Tony Parker

Can Tony lead the Spurs to a fifth title? The little trophy in his left hand thinks so.
In recent weeks, we’ve discussed the numerous trade opportunities that are available to the Spurs. During these discussions, certain commenters have repeatedly floated an idea that I have yet to address formally: The idea of trading Tony Parker. Once or twice I have mentioned that I think trading Tony Parker is a bad idea, and is a much more drastic move than some realize, but I haven’t fully explained why.

First, I want to briefly touch upon what people seemingly want to trade him for. Different commenters have suggested different trades for different reasons, so I don’t want to treat the “Trade Tony” crowd as if they are some unified group. But, for the most part, advocates of trading Tony think we could acquire a number of young role players for our starting point guard. I feel like the most often mentioned trading partner is Portland, who has a glut of young talent. For instance, if we could acquire Nic Batum, Steve Blake and Greg Oden for Tony Parker (check the Trade Machine, it works), why wouldn’t you? Yes, we lose an All-Star Point Guard, but we acquire a potential All-Star center, a talented young wing, and a PG who can get the job done.

Although Portland is in the hunt for a marquee point, I don’t believe they would go for this. That being said, I am using this hypothetical situation because I believe it is the best possible trade the Spurs could get, and even though I disagree with the “Trade Tony” crowd, I don’t want to sell them short. I also don’t think the Spurs are at all interested in trading Tony for another All-Star, one for one. If the idea has even crossed Buford and Pop’s mind, it has crossed it along these lines.

So why, despite the proposed trade’s enormous upside, am I still opposed to it? Because trading Tony Parker is the equivalent of blowing it up. Yes, the team will continue to resemble its current manifestation for a couple of years whether Tony is traded or not, but by trading Tony the Front Office would be saying, “We are no longer trying to win another title during the Tim Duncan era. We are officially planning for the future.”

The reality of the matter is, this team needs to get deeper and younger, but it cannot become those things at the expense of Tony Parker. Let me make a couple of things clear, so people don’t jump to conclusions: By saying Tony Parker is a fundamental piece of our championship aspirations I am not saying Manu Ginobili isn’t. So many people treat the situation as an either/or while, in fact, neither of them has won an NBA championship without the other.

Let me rephrase: By surrounding a soon-to-be 32 year old Manu Ginobili and a 33 year old Tim Duncan with an assortment of still developing role players, you have not produced a championship roster. Players like Nic Batum and Greg Oden may be reliable contributors during deep playoff runs in 2 years, but by that time Manu and Tim will be in no position to lead them. The heart will always be there but the physical ability no longer will.

I am not saying this is necessarily a bad situation. If you are more interested in winning a championship in 5 years than during the next 2 or 3, than this probably sounds like an excellent idea. And in some ways it is. But to those of you who claim that the Spurs cannot win another title during the Duncan era without Manu and then turn around and say we should trade Tony: Your logic has led you down 2 different paths.

Even if you have resigned yourself to the idea that the championship run is over and would prefer the Spurs adopt a more long-term mentality, I still think trading Tony is a bad idea. I think that because the Spurs can get younger and deeper without trading Tony. And if you can achieve those admittedly crucial goals without sacrificing your elite point, than you don’t sacrifice him. It’s as simple as that.

As things currently stand, in 12 months only 3 players are still on the books: Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and George Hill. At that point in time, the Spurs will have all kinds of financial flexibility. With so many current members of the team set to retire at the end of next season, there is no need to panic and trade away our most valuable asset.

Although not as fundamental to my argument, I also like the idea of having some continuity between the generations. I like the fact that Robinson played alongside Duncan. I am glad that Duncan has taken the time to mentor Parker, despite their differing roles. And I look forward to the day when Parker can pass on that wisdom to a new generation of Spurs.

And yes, Parker does have the emotional and mental fiber to carry on the legacy of hard work and humility that has built this franchise. Spurs fans constantly refer to Parker as a “prima donna,” but you want to know what: I think that is bullshit. Parker may not emit the saintliness possessed by Ginobili or Duncan, but on the broader spectrum of NBA players, Parker is team-oriented and very hard-working. Have we so quickly forgotten that, in response to what seemed like endless verbal lashings from Pop early in his career, Parker put his head down and tried even harder? Or that he meticulously worked to reconstruct his shot, a laborious process few NBA players have the commitment to complete?

And the fact that he is a score-first point does not mean he is selfish. Our offensive system has never necessitated a pass-first small guard. The fact that he averaged almost 2.5 more FGA per game than he did in ‘07 is not a symbol of his selfishness: It symbolizes the fact that, when asked by Pop, he’s willing to permanently put himself in 5th gear.

The Spurs’ Yoko Ono

As an afterword to this piece, I’d like to address the signficance of someone we almost never mention here on 48 Minutes of Hell: Eva Longoria Parker. Mrs. Longoria Parker symbolizes the fears Spurs fans harbor about Tony: He is too enticed by the limelight and, when his contract is up in 2011, he will leave San Antonio for a larger market team, where he can indulge his supposed vanity.

I think this conception of Tony and Eva is patently absurd. First and foremost, as a native of South Texas, Eva has no reason to encourage Tony to leave San Antonio. She was a Spurs fan before they met. In fact, they were first introducted after a game she attended in San Antonio. Since they began dating, she has always been a committed supporter of the team and has never once hinted that she would like to see her husband in a different jersey. If Parker leaves San Antonio, there is no reason to believe it would be because of her.

(Quick Sidenote: Not surprisingly, the people I have met who are most adamant that Parker will leave San Antonio for a team on either coast are people who happen live on either coast. People from New York and LA can’t imagine why anyone would live in middle America! Colour me shocked.)

In general, this entire idea that superstars are looking to move to major market teams is based off of an antiquated sense of celebrity. Although the major American media companies are still located in New York and Los Angeles, the nature of new media and contemporary entertainment news coverage has begun to detach notoriety from physical locations.

For instance, despite the ambivalence many sports fans feel towards the Spurs, Parker still managed to grace the cover of the most recent edition of EA Sports NBA Live. He and his wife already own homes in Texas, Los Angeles, and Paris. During the offseason, they can spend as much time in any of those places as they like. And during the season, Parker is on the road half of the time anyways. The fact that his employer is technically located in San Antonio does not mean he has to spend his days twiddling his thumbs somewhere along the I-35 corridor.

The truth of the matter is, Parker has a good deal in San Antonio. He has the opportunity to be the centerpiece of a competitive franchise. He can complete his career alongside a coach and within an organization he loves and trusts. Market size aside, I see no reason why he would readily leave that situation.

Express News: Spurs assistant in charge of Aussies

By Jeff McDonald

Spurs assistant coach Brett Brown will never forget his first trip to Australia.

He was 25 years old, with wanderlust in his heart and a little bit of money in his pocket, a young man from New England on a serious undertaking.

“I was on a mission to travel,” Brown said. “It was a period of my life where I was unsure what I wanted to do. I was just out of college. I had made some money. I was single. At that point, I just wanted to see the world.”

So he set out to visit the Great Barrier Reef. Along the way, he met his future wife, found a calling as a basketball coach and wound up staying for nearly 13 years.

Earlier this month, Brown, now 48, returned again to Australia, again on a mission. He is set to begin work as the new head coach of that country's national team, tabbed with turning around a program that has fallen on hard times since consecutive fourth-place finishes at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and the 2000 Games in Sydney.

This will be his summer job for the next four years, culminating with the 2012 Olympics in London.

“If you had told me 23 years ago that I would have this opportunity, I wouldn't have believed you,” Brown said.

It does seem like an unlikely turn of events: a relatively unknown NBA assistant who was raised in Maine, asked to take over a national program half a world away.

Though he hails from the uppermost reaches of New England, Brown is as Australian as a koala bear. Maybe he learned the game in America, but he cut his coaching teeth in the Aussie league.

A melting pot of influences, he offers traditional Australian aphorisms — “Good on ya, mate” — with a slight Boston brogue.

So how does a guy raised in Maine go on to become an Olympic coach in Australia? The answer lies in equal parts timing and luck.

Fruitful walkabout

In 1983, Brown had just finished a four-year career as a point guard at Boston University, figuring he was done with basketball altogether. He took a job as a sales representative for AT&T, hawking telephone and computer equipment to businesses.

And he was miserable.

“I was a shirt-and-tie guy, a 9-to-5 guy,” Brown said. “It wasn't me.”

So Brown quit his job, emptied his savings account and set out to see the South Pacific. He met his wife, Anna, and decided to settle down Down Under.

He needed a job and knew he didn't want to sell telephones.

“I suppose we gravitate to what we know,” said Brown, the son of a high school basketball coaching lifer. “I don't know much, but basketball is in my blood.”

Brown took his first coaching job with Auckland of the New Zealand professional league in 1988. He parlayed that into an assistant's gig in Australia with the Melbourne Tigers, coached then by Australian legend Lindsay Gaze, father of former Spurs player Andrew Gaze.

From there, Brown became the head coach of the North Melbourne Giants from 1993-98. He also coached the Sydney Kings from 2000-02.

Though since transplanted, Brown's Aussie roots run deep. He was also an assistant coach with the hard-luck Australian national teams in 1996 and 2000.

Brown's success in Australia paved his path to San Antonio, first in 1999 when he served as an unpaid “guest” of the Spurs at the invitation of general manager R.C. Buford, then again in July 2002 when he was hired full-time as the team's director of player development. He was promoted to Gregg Popovich's bench as an assistant coach before the start of the 2007 season.

The fact that he had a foot in both basketball worlds — the NBA and internationally — was a key factor in Brown landing the Australian national gig in March.

“Brett is a smart coach; he knows the game,” said Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, a veteran of international competition. “I know he will do a good job with Australia.”

No time off

Thanks to his new summer job, Brown's NBA offseason will be busier than any of the Spurs' rodeo trips. With most of Australia's highest-profile players — particularly Milwaukee Bucks star Andrew Bogut — otherwise indisposed, Brown's task this summer will be to identify up-and-comers in the program.

The process began in earnest last week with a training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. This week, Brown's team is in China for a pair of exhibitions against Yao Ming's buddies.

Next month, it's Argentina and Brazil. In August, it's a home-and-home series with New Zealand for seeding in next year's FIBA World Championships.

At first, the time commitment was enough for Brown to turn down interest in the job. It was only after a heart-to-heart with Popovich that Brown ultimately agreed to apply.

Brown will be done globetrotting and back in San Antonio in time for the start of Spurs training camp.

“We made it clear he would have as much time as needed to do the work for them,” Popovich said. “It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

Before he set off on a summer that would make Magellan travel weary, Brown couldn't help but reflect on all that has happened to get to this point.

He is a man on a mission, again.

“My frequent flier miles will be off the charts, and my luggage will be worn out by the end of it,” Brown said. “But you know what? I love it.”


American know-how

Spurs assistant coach Brett Brown, Australia’s new national team coach, isn’t the only American-born coach with international experience:

David Blatt: A three-year letter-winner for Pete Carril at Princeton and a captain on the 1980-81 Ivy League champion, he has coached in Europe since 1993. The Boston native coached Russia to the Eurobasket 2007 championship. He coached the Russian team at the Beijing Olympics, and he recently left his job as coach for Dynamo Moscow.

Chris Finch: A four-year letter-winner for Glenn Marshall at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania, he is the head coach for the British national team that includes Luol Deng and Pops Mensah-Bonsu.

Brian Goorjian: A three-year letterman at Pepperdine (1974-76), he’s considered the most successful coach in Australian basketball history, and he’s Brown’s predecessor with the Aussie team. The Glendale, Calif., native won his sixth National Basketball League championship and coach of the year honor this season after leading the South Dragons to the NBL title. He led the Aussie team to the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. It lost to the United States 116-85 in the quarterfinals at Beijing.

Del Harris: The former head coach for the Rockets, Bucks and Lakers directed Yao Ming’s Chinese team in the 2004 Olympics. His NBA coaching record is 556-457.

David Hobbs: The two-year letterman at Virginia Commonwealth and former assistant at his alma mater — Alabama when Robert Horry was there and Kentucky — he’s the head coach for the Japanese national team. He was Alabama’s head coach from 1992-98.

Donnie Nelson: The son of Don Nelson and general manager for the Dallas Mavericks served as a longtime assistant coach for Lithuania, helping the team to three Olympic bronze medals and the 2003 European championship. He was an assistant for China in the 2008 Olympics.

Nolan Richardson: The El Paso native led Arkansas to the 1994 NCAA championship and has been the head coach for national teams in Panama (2003-05) and Mexico (2007). His NCAA coaching mark stands at 508-206.

Scott Roth: The former Wisconsin standout and member of the 1988-89 Spurs was an assistant for Turkey’s national team in 2001-02. He also coached the Dominican Republic national team, which in 2008 had Al Horford and Francisco Garcia. He currently coaches the Bakersfield Jam in the NBA D-League.

- Douglas Pils

Express News: Bruce's Bytes: Father's Day

A three-time NBA Champion and eight-time NBA All-Defensive Team honoree, San Antonio Spurs forward Bruce Bowen is also founder of The Bruce Bowen Foundation, which is committed to supporting and enhancing the lives of youth in underserved communities. He and his wife, Yardley, also own several businesses in San Antonio. Learn more about Bruce.

Fathers Day......
By Bruce Bowen

I have had the wonderful opportunity of seeing some great examples of fathers. I didn't have a clue what fatherhood meant prior to my two boys. Everyday is a new challenge when it comes to being a father. Unfortunately, theirs no manual to being a father. So we make mistakes, and try to learn as we go. For those who didn't see good examples, I commend you for continuing with the good fight of faith raising your kids. It's so easy to give up and walk out on any responsiblity, but if we do give up, what are we teaching the those who look up to us?

I didn't have the best upbringing in the world, but that's no excuse for me not to try and learn from others mistakes. It's a great opportunity for me to break the CYCLE that continues to break kids spirits.

To all the fathers out there, thank you for the example that you are showing our young men and women in the world. I wish all the fathers the best Bar-B-Que, and sweetest desserts available to you on this day.

Express News: Person Of Interest: Danny Green


By Jeff McDonald

With exactly one week to go before the NBA draft, we continue our look at potential Spurs targets by examining North Carolina small forward Danny Green.

For about the past several seasons, the Spurs have been on the lookout for "the next Bruce Bowen" -- a rangy defensive player who can hit a shot every now and then, but for whom offense is clearly secondary.

It would be silly to compare Green to Bowen at this stage -- Bowen is an eight-time All-NBA defender, Green is a 22-year-old who has never played in a professional game. But, on paper, Green at least possesses some attributes that make him an intriguing prospect for the "Bowen-in-waiting" role.

Green is 6-foot-6 with a 6-10 wingspan, and was renowned in college as a particularly good all-around defender. He isn't overwhelmingly athletic, and doesn't possess much of a one-on-one offensive game, but he has worked hard to refine his shooting mechanics and can hit a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer with some regularity (sound familiar?). Green averaged 13.1 points as a senior at UNC, and hit at a 41-percent clip from 3-point range.

The best part for the Spurs is that Green ought to be available when they are picking in the second round. Though his NBA ceiling is limited, Green could turn out to be a valuable NBA role player some day. That is all you're shooting for at pick No. 37.

Express News: The George Hill All-Stars and Tony Parker plays futbol


By Jeff McDonald

Couple of odds and ends here at Courtside today.

First, the NBA's Summer League schedule is out. For those of you diehards planning on making the trip to Vegas next month, the Spurs' entry will play five games:

July 12 -- vs. the Hornets at 1 p.m.
July 14 -- vs. the Nuggets at 7 p.m.
July 16 -- vs. the Thunder at 5:30 p.m.
July 18 -- vs. the Trail Blazers at 7:30 p.m.
July 19 -- vs. the Grizzlies at 5 p.m.

All games will be played at the Thomas and Mack Center or the adjacent Cox Pavilion. All times are Vegas time.

The roster for the Spurs entry, which will be coached by assistant Don Newman, is still in flux. George Hill and Ian Mahinmi, summer league veterans both, are expected to headline the team.

Also today, it was announced that Tony Parker will play in a celebrity soccer game hosted by Steve Nash later this summer. The so-called "Showdown in Chinatown," held June 24 in New York, features Nash and U.S. soccer star Claudio Reyna. Proceeds benefit the Steve Nash Foundation and the Claudio Reyna Foundation.

Other NBA stars slated to participate, along with Nash and Parker, are Jason Kidd, Grant Hill, Chris Bosh and Raja Bell.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Examiner: Spurs, Ginobili enter offseason with questions


Michael Chartier

The San Antonio Spurs face a crossroads entering the 2009-2010 NBA offseason. Besides coming off a first-round exit from the NBA playoffs for the first time in the Tim Duncan era (when playing), uncertainty surrounds the status of Manu Ginobili.

Ginobili said he expects to be 100 percent after a right ankle stress fracture caused him to miss the final six games of the regular season and the playoffs. Still, San Antonio has twice shelved contract negotiations with the shooting guard who has only one year left on his current deal. The soon-to-be-32-year-old All-Star recently told the Argentine press that the idea of San Antonio trading him "could happen."

Head coach Gregg Popovich, however, while not ruling it out completely also called it unlikely.

"I can't imagine a scenario where he would be traded," Popovich told reporters.

Despite Duncan turning 33 this past April and some questioning his general health, the two-time league MVP, three-time Finals MVP and four-time NBA Champion was close enough to "playoff Timmy" to suggest that adding a piece or two is all that stands between him and his fifth ring.

While some fans may be hoping for a big free agent splash or draft day blockbuster, the biggest acquisition for the Spurs will be the healthy return of Ginobili. The seven-year NBA veteran doesn't boast the kind of eye-popping career stats of a Kobe and Lebron or even oft-injured stars like Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady. But when comparing the best twos and threes in the NBA, who is really more explosive or effective than Manu?

If you need a reminder, here's what they were saying just a few years ago.

An ESPN article ranked Ginobili second in career regular season winning percentage among the likes of Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and Shaquille O'Neal, coming in behind only Larry Bird. His playoff winning percentage ranked only below Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.

In Spike Lee's movie Kobe Doin' Work, Bryant referred to Ginobili as "a bad boy." In case you don't know, that means the 2009 Finals MVP thinks he's really good.

Ginobili brings intangibles that are hard to measure in statistics alone. And unlike the aforementioned foursome, he's not a volume shooter. He's a deceptively strong, athletic slahser that finishes at the rim, shoots the three and defends at an elite level. His greatest asset, however, may be that he makes the players around him better -- a quality associated with the very best in the game. In the discussion of best wing players this decade, Manu has to be somehwere in the top five.

Despite All-NBA point guard Tony Parker just entering his prime and the presumed good health of Duncan and Ginobili, the Spurs will once again fly under the radar. It may seem like a while to a ravenous fan base and so-called experts, but the Spurs did win the title just two seasons ago.

Granted, San Antonio doesn't enjoy "team to beat" status as they did from 2004 to 2008. But signing a contributing free agent in July or finding a hidden gem in any one of their three second-round draft picks could quickly tilt the discusssion back to the Spurs. But as Popovich ominously foreshadowed before last year's playoffs, San Antonio is going nowhere without Manu.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

ESPN: NBA's 65 In 65: George Gervin


Welcome to The Show! On Tuesday, we continue our 65 in 65. That's 65 NBA chats in 65 days. We will hold an NBA chat each day through the end of the NBA Finals. We'll bring you players, analysts, writers, anyone who can help you fill your NBA fix.

Tuesday's guest is former NBA player George Gervin.

Nicknamed "Iceman" for his cool demeanor on the court, Gervin was known mostly for his scoring talents. His first scoring crown, in 1978, was one of the most memorable moments in NBA history, as he defeated Denver Nuggets forward David Thompson by seven hundredths of a point (27.22 to 27.15). Prior to Michael Jordan, Gervin had the most scoring titles of any guard in league history with four.

Gervin had his No. 44 jersey retired by the San Antonio Spurs and was also named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary Team.

Kevin (Jersey)
Happy belated Ice Man- keep it cool.

George Gervin
(laughing) Thank you very much, I appreciate that!

Jacob Bloomington Illinois
Do you think the Bulls have a chance to beat the Celtics?

George Gervin
If the Bulls keep playing they way that they have been and if the Celtics continue to slip, then the Bulls have a good chance to take this series.

Afonso (Portugal)
Do you think Spurs will get past Mavericks?

George Gervin
That's tough especially being down 3-1. The Spurs will have to play perfect basketball to come back. I remember back it 1978 when we had Washington down 3-1 and they came back to beat us so it is possible.

Quincy (Dayton)
Iceman, how would you compare LeBron's NBA progress to that of Kobe and Jordan at the age of 24?

George Gervin
LeBron's progress has been sensational! All of these guys are phenoms. I don't think we can compare them we just need to appreciate these guys showing dominance at an early age.

Wesley (Gainseville)
Which current NBA player do you think is most comparable to yourself?

George Gervin
I guess I would say Kevin Durant because he is long, he can put the ball on the floor, and he can shoot from anywhere.

Tyron (Delta City)
Who did you pattern your game after?

George Gervin
I didn't really pattern my game after anybody. I'm famous for the finger roll and everybody thinks that I invented it. But I watched guys like Dr. Jay, Wilt Chamberlain and Connie Hawkins and took different pieces of their finger rolls and made it into my own.

Rodney (Sane Fe)
How many more years do you think the Spurs have before they will need to rebuild?

George Gervin
In my opinoin, I think they will start rebuilding in the next year or so. But you have to give it to them, they have won four championships in the years that Tim Duncan has been there but you can only squeeze but so much juice out of an orange.

Jerson Chicago (Illinois)
George, you were my favorite player to watch, I was wondering who you thinks going to win the NBA Championship??

George Gervin
That's a toss up. The Cavs are playing well in the East and the Lakers in the West. It's hard for me to say but I think it will be between the Cavs and the Lakers.

Justin Behling (Boyceville, WI)
Hey George, who is your favorite player of all time and your favorite current player?

George Gervin
Of all-time Julius Erving and current its between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James but I'm going with Kobe.

timmy c. (lancaster, pa)
Ice! Thanks for chatting. What current NBA star has the coolest nickname?

George Gervin
Wow! It would have to be King James. All the real cool nicknames are in the past like Dr. J, Chocolate Thunder, Ice Man ...

George Gervin
Thank you to all the fans for your support. I'll always love the fans because you make the game what it is today.

Express News: So much for young and athletic

By Buck Harvey

Jameer Nelson backed up as Derek Fisher dribbled toward him. Then Mickael Pietrus drove to nowhere with Orlando's best shooter, Rashard Lewis, open in the corner.

And in various living rooms around San Antonio, Spurs coaches remembered why they have erred on the side of experience these last few years.

How many stupid teams win championships?

Coaches can err, too. Maybe Gregg Popovich should have put a defender on Gary Payton's inbounds pass to Fisher in 2004. Maybe Stan Van Gundy should have instructed someone to foul before a Laker could launch a 3-pointer at the end of regulation Thursday.

But those are basic options that coaches argue in staff meetings, and there's another side even when their way of doing things doesn't work. By pulling a defender off of Payton in order to double Kobe Bryant in 2004, Popovich made sure someone else would take the last shot; Fisher did. And had Van Gundy ordered an intentional foul Thursday night, there was still a lot of time left. Besides, the intentional foul could have turned into a 3-point attempt and three free throws.

What usually decides these moments are the on-court decisions, such as when Nelson stepped back as if trying to prevent Fisher from driving. Stealing an autographed Michael Jordan jersey from Tony Parker and listing it on Craigslist the next day made as much sense. Fisher's only option was a 3-pointer.

When Pietrus followed by panicking with the clock running down, he played to his reputation. The Spurs have been impressed with him in this postseason; at times he has looked exactly like the kind of young and athletic wing the Spurs have needed. But he's never been known as a smart player, and this play confirmed that.


"This is going to sound crazy," a Los Angeles Times columnist wrote about Fisher, "but even Robert Horry never hit consecutive shots this big."

That does sound crazy -- to anyone who saw Game 5 in the 2005 Finals.


Fisher said this night was "even greater than .4," and he's right. The Lakers didn't win the title in 2004.

They will now.

FanNation: Wizards-Spurs deal in works?

The Wizards are said to have an offer for Manu Ginobili on the table, but the details are not known. A deal that makes a lot of sense for both sides is a swap that consists of Mike James, Etan Thomas, the fifth pick in this year's draft, and Nick Young for Ginobili and Fabricio Oberto. Nick Young would provide the Spurs with the promising young shooting guard they tried to acquire in J.R. Smith and with the fifth pick they could go a number of different ways. Jordan Hill or DeMar DeRozan would look awfully nice in a Spurs' uniform.
Lots of trade talks concerning the Wizards and Manu Ginobili lately. This is just the latest in a string of reports, but I don't give it much substance. Pop has already stated that unless someone just throws a ridiculous deal at the Spurs, Ginobili isn't going anywhere.

Express News: Person of interest: Jermaine Taylor

By Jeff McDonald

We continue our look at draft prospects the Spurs have auditioned with a glance at Central Florida's Jermaine Taylor.

As we have noted before, one of the Spurs' priorities for this offseason is to get younger and more athletic on the wing -- particularly at small forward, but also at shooting guard. Taylor, a 22-year-old, 6-foot-4 scorer, would help there.

Taylor was a breakout star at the Portsmouth pre-draft camp in April, and worked out for the Spurs in May. Possessing a heaping helping of athleticism, a precocious slashing ability and a decent-enough jump shot, Taylor is a scorer's scorer. The MVP of Conference USA last season, Taylor averaged better than 26 points as a senior at UCF, the third-best scoring average in the nation.

Taylor can be a defensive liability, which certainly doesn't help his stock with the Spurs. And he will have to work to develop NBA 3-point range.

Still, Taylor has had an impressive set of workouts over the past several weeks, and there is talk he could jump into the bottom of the first round. If that's the case, the Spurs would have to trade up to get him, if they want him.

Spurs.com: Spurs to Celebrate 10th Anniversary of 1999 Championship


Spurs.com will take fans on an insiders look back at the Championship run with a different feature each day during the 10-day run.

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs won their first NBA Championship in 1999 and to celebrate the 10th Anniversary, Spurs.com will highlight 10 days of exclusive content beginning Monday, June 15 and running through Wednesday, June 24.

Spurs.com will take fans on an insider’s look back at the Championship run with a different feature each day during the 10-day run. Highlights include exclusive interviews with Sean Elliott, Avery Johnson and Brandon Williams, the 14th man on the 1999 Championship team. The site will also feature a 4-part video series highlighting the Spurs 1998-99 season and playoff run to the 1999 NBA Championship, as well as a ‘where are they now’ section and photo gallery.

Log on to spurs.com starting Monday, June 15 to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Spurs first NBA Championship.

Spurs 2009-10 season tickets are on sale now by calling 444-5050 or by visiting spurs.com.

MassLive.com: Robinson Tough To Coach Against, But Garry St. Jean Admires Man As Much As Superstar


David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs, a member of the incoming Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2009, and teammate Tim Duncan get ready for tip-off during a game in 2003 in San Antonio.

By Ron Chimelis

Over the course of Garry St. Jean's NBA career, he faced the challenge of coaching against David Robinson, who will be enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September.

St. Jean's memories of Robinson, though, have as much to do with the man as the superstar.

"I hate to be cliché-ish, but David is just a beautiful person," St. Jean said. "He never tooted his own horn, and he was comfortable in his own skin.

"A beautiful player, too. So graceful."

St. Jean, who coached at Sacramento (1992-97) and Golden State (2000), and also served as the Warriors' general manager, saw Robinson's San Antonio Spurs often in Western Conference games.

The Chicopee High School and Springfield College graduate could not help but notice the personal character and presence of an admired opponent.

"I used to get a cold chill, just watching David stand at rigid attention at for the national anthem. A simple thing like that," St. Jean said.

Robinson was a proud Navy man. Long after his 1987 graduation from the Naval Academy at Annapolis, he represented it well, St. Jean said.

Robinson's NBA career was delayed for two years after graduation, while he fulfilled his Navy commitment. Later, he served the military branch as a reserve.

He had a kindred spirit in San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, an Air Force Academy graduate and a man St. Jean knows well from NBA circles.

Popovich was briefly a member of Golden State's staff in the early 1990s. By 1997, he was coach of the Spurs when Duncan came out of Wake Forest.

That gave Robinson the support he needed to help San Antonio win two NBA titles before "The Admiral," as Robinson was called (even though his actual Navy rank had been Lieutenant, Junior Grade) retired.

"Gregg used to say that when you've got David Robinson and Tim Duncan, it's a great life," St. Jean said.

St. Jean's description of Robinson portrayed not only a great player and a Renaissance man, but a family man, too.

"I met his dad, who had as big a smile as David," St. Jean said. "We were doing some charity function, and I mentioned it would be nice if we could auction off a pair of David's shoes.

"He took my address, and sure enough, about a week later, the shoes were there."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Express News: Paris-Bound Parker Promises To Stay Healthy

By Mike Monroe - Express-News

Spurs All-NBA point guard Tony Parker is headed to France in a few weeks to begin training with Les Bleus, the French national team that will attempt to earn the final berth in EuroBasket 2009 in an additional round of qualifying next month.

During a stopover in San Antonio after a lengthy European vacation, Parker took time to visit the team's youth basketball camp, where he engaged in some spirited pickup games with youngsters barely topping 4 feet in height, and in spirited commentary on reports that Manu Ginobili believes a trade away from the Spurs no longer seems impossible.

“I don't know why he said that, but I don't think he's going nowhere,” Parker said. “Everybody loves him here, and I love playing with him, and I don't think he's going anywhere.

“If I was him, I wouldn't second-guess anything. He's like God here. Come on, man. He speaks Spanish and everything. He's not going anywhere.”

Parker is going back to France soon, where he will conduct his own youth basketball camp. During his visit to the Spurs' youth camp, at University of the Incarnate Word, he discovered a nemesis wearing a Dirk Nowitzki No. 41 Mavericks jersey, a youngster with a sweet perimeter shot he used to beat Parker in a game of H-O-R-S-E.

The Spurs star didn't mind. At the end of the day he hollered, “Hey, Nowitzki, come here.”

Then Parker invited the young man, and two other campers, to attend his basketball camp in Paris in July.

“I love spending time with kids, teaching them and having fun,” Parker said. “I'm going to do the same thing in Paris, between July 4-14. Pop (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) is coming, too, between July 7-12.”

Parker joked with a local sports anchor that he could come to cover the camp if he would pick up the tab for the kids. He got an instant turndown.

“I guess I'll have to pay,” Parker said, laughing.

Parker will be in France for another camp too: In mid-July, he'll train with the French national team, seeking to claim the final berth for EuroBasket 2009 in an additional qualifying round next month.

Parker will be the only Spurs player involved in international play this summer, and he's confident he is young enough to compete for his homeland and still be fresh through an 82-game NBA season.

“Maybe after I'm 30 years old I will worry about it ... 31, 32. Then it might be tough to play a full season. But right now I'm young. Hopefully, everything will be fine.”

Parker said he was encouraged by the pronouncement this week that Ginobili, his teammate who suffered a stress fracture in his right distal fibula in early April, believes he will be 100 percent healthy by the start of training camp.

“I'm sure, I'm sure,” Parker said. “It's just one season. Everybody gets injured. Even Michael Jordan missed (most of a season) with his foot. ... So I'm not worried about anything. It will be good for us. It will be good for everybody.”

He recently returned from a European vacation that included stops for French Open tennis and a Spanish soccer tournament to watch his friend, soccer star Thierry Henry. Parker said there was one sports event that had not gotten much attention from him: the NBA Finals.

“I haven't even watched,” he said. “I know (the Lakers) are up 2-1. I'll watch Game 4 tonight.”

HoopsWorld: Fixing The San Antonio Spurs


It's an odd-numbered year, and for the first time since 2001 the San Antonio Spurs are not competing for a championship in the NBA Finals. In fact, they didn't even make it out of the opening round as they fell to the Dallas Mavericks in five games.

It's hard not to overreact, but when you consider everything that the Spurs went through this season it was actually a year that many other franchises would kill for right now. However, the Spurs are not content with anything other than being a championship contender.

Looking at the Western Conference in its entirety, the Spurs are quickly starting to slip down the rankings. Currently the future in Denver, Portland, Houston, and Los Angeles looks brighter than it does in South Texas. With that in mind, we make our attempt at fixing the San Antonio Spurs:

What Went Wrong

There's nowhere else to start other than the Beijing Olympics. Against the will of the Spurs, Manu Ginobili suited up with the aspirations of leading Argentina to a gold medal as he did in 2004. Argentina settled for the bronze and Ginobili headed back to the states in need of surgery on his left ankle. While the Spurs were far from pleased, they were hopeful that it would lead to Manu having his first 100% healthy season in years.

Manu only missed 12 games to start, but it became a recurring theme throughout the season that just as everyone thought he was peaking Manu would suffer another setback. Early in April Manu was ruled out for the rest of the season because of lingering pain in his right ankle.

Tim Duncan struggled with injuries of his own, especially late in the season. By the time the playoffs came around Tony Parker claimed Duncan was basically playing on one leg.

Ian Mahinmi, although not as vital to the team's success as Duncan and Ginobili, was unable to play a single game this season because of persistent ankle pain. Coach Popovich had high hopes for Mahinmi this year and was undoubtedly planning on giving him a chance to be an impact player for the team.

For years the Spurs have always been amongst the oldest teams in the league, but their age never played as big of a factor as it did this year. Usually reliable veterans Kurt Thomas, Jacque Vaughn, Bruce Bowen, and Fabricio O'Berto (mainly due to various health ailments) were nowhere near as productive as they were the year prior.

What Went Right

This past season was a career-year for Tony Parker, who put the rest of the league on notice as to just how good he really is. For years Parker's talent has been slighted because he played alongside two other superstars, but there is truly no denying now that he is one of the league's biggest stars. With Duncan's retirement just a few years away the Spurs can rest safely knowing in Parker they have another franchise player.

The Spurs also managed to add two nice young pieces in Roger Mason Jr. and George Hill. The two were major bright spots this season despite the fact that their play tailed off somewhat towards the end of the season. They did play the most minutes of their short careers this past season, so it's logical to think that they hit the proverbial wall late in the year.

At the trade deadline several names were thrown around in association with the Spurs including Richard Jefferson, Rasheed Wallace, and Vince Carter. Unable to find a deal to their liking they decided to stand pat. Thankfully they were able to add a very valuable piece for nothing in Drew Gooden after he was bought out by the Sacramento Kings.

Gooden had some great moments for the Spurs, but was too banged up to change their fortunes.

Michael Finley played especially well down the stretch, providing some much needed offense in Ginobili's absence but the Spurs as a whole just didn't have enough this year.

Where The Spurs Go From Here

It's been years since the Spurs appeared to be this far away from contention. They've always found a way to make minor tweaks that make a major difference, but it may take more than that to get back in the mix in the West.

The Spurs are fully prepared to make some drastic changes though. They have over $30 million expiring contracts, including Manu's deal worth $10.7 million alone. Manu certainly has value around the league and although it's hard to imagine the Spurs parting ways with someone who has helped them accomplish so much, it may be time.

The Wizards are said to have an offer for Ginobili on the table, but the details are not known. A deal that makes a lot of sense for both sides is a swap that consists of Mike James, Etan Thomas, the fifth pick in this year's draft, and Nick Young for Manu Ginobili and Fabricio Oberto. Nick Young would provide the Spurs with the promising young shooting guard they tried to acquire in J.R. Smith and with the fifth pick they could go a number of different ways. Jordan Hill or DeMar DeRozan would look awfully nice in a Spurs' uniform.

Considering their track record though it's hard to imagine the Spurs pulling the trigger on a deal of that magnitude without getting more proven talent in return. Word is that the Spurs do have strong interest in purchasing their way into the first round of this month's draft. Should the trade up into the 20-30 range expect them to look a proven collegiate player like Eric Maynor, Wayne Ellington, or Danny Green. Omri Casspi was someone who they were very impressed with, but he's unlikely to stay in the draft.

This summer the Spurs will have the mid-level exception at their disposal, which they could use to try to convince a proven veteran like Rasheed Wallace to accept. Wallace is said to want $8 milion, but when he sees how down the market is and the opportunity the Spurs present he could be persuaded to take their offer.

Whatever direction the Spurs do go in don't expect them to jeopardize their salary cap space in 2010 unless something spectacular comes along. Only Duncan, Parker, and Hill are under contract for the 2011 season, making them big-time players for some of the top free agents. LeBron James and Dwayne Wade are the big names, but don't be surprised if Chris Bosh is really intrigued by the idea of playing with Tony Parker closer to home.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Spurs.com: Spurs Insider Takes a Look at the Admiral


Express News: Popovich: 'I cannot envision trading' Ginobili

By Buck Harvey on Jun 10, 09 06:06 PM

When Manu Ginobili flew back to San Antonio after the Beijing Olympics, Gregg Popovich was there to pick him up at the airport. Now Ginobili says he wouldn't be shocked if Popovich drives him back this summer to catch the next flight out of town.

Asked this week in Argentina about the possibility of being traded, Ginobili told a reporter there: "A year ago I thought this would be impossible, and today I believe there is a chance it could happen."

There's always a chance. "People get in trouble when they say never," Popovich said Wednesday. There could always be "a stupid offer" from another team, he said.

"But Manu Ginobili is someone I cannot envision trading," Popovich said. "He has been such a huge part of our heart and soul; people like that are hard to come by. You don't even think about trading somebody like that. I can't imagine a scenario where he would be traded."

Ginobili also talked about the Spurs halting contract-extension discussions with him last summer after the Olympics. "I do not know what they want to do," he told an Argentine reporter.

I think Ginobili knows what the Spurs want to do. They want to see if he can make it through a season before they decide whether they want to pay him, or how much they want to pay him.

He's been a bargain for the Spurs on both of his San Antonio contracts, including the one that will pay him about $10 million next season. But even if Ginobili does well next year, how much money should the Spurs invest in someone who will be 33 years old in 2010?

A June, 2009 guess: They would offer a two-year deal near his current salary.

Monday, June 8, 2009

WFTV: Spurs' Oberto Undergoes Heart Procedure


San Antonio, TX -- (Sports Network) - San Antonio Spurs center Fabricio Oberto underwent a procedure last week to help correct an irregular heartbeat.

Oberto suffered from atrial fibrillation -- a type of abnormal heart rhythm -- during the season and on June 4 underwent a successful ablation procedure to correct the electrical system of the heart.

The Spurs said Oberto will begin a conservative cardiovascular exercise program next week. After four weeks, and with doctor's approval, he can begin more strenuous workouts.

In 54 games this past season, Oberto averaged 2.6 points with 2.6 rebounds. He missed the first two games of the season with an irregular heartbeat and was sidelined for a few games in late March and early April because of the same problem.

Express News: Gooden Likely To Test Free-Agent Waters (And Other Clean-Out Day News)


By Jeff McDonald

Drew Gooden arrived in San Antonio last March hoping to make it his home. He had bounced around the NBA for six-plus seasons in a nomad's career. He was finally ready to settle down.

Speaking to reporters at the Spurs practice facility this afternoon, Gooden reiterated his desire to remain with the Spurs after he becomes a free-agent on July 1, but intimated that he will test the market first.

"I had a great time here," Gooden said. "It was a great experience. Whatever happens, this will be a couple of pages in my book that will be memorable. I'd love to be a part of this organization, but we'll see this summer."

If Tuesday's Game 5 loss to Dallas was his last in a Spurs uniform, Gooden said he has no hard feelings with how it ended. He took a DNP-CD, as coach Gregg Popovich shortened his big-man rotation to use players most familiar with his system.

"We played a small lineup, small rotation, with the guys who have been here," Gooden said. "Some playoff games are going to be like that. If I've got to sacrifice playing to get a win, I'll do that."

In other clean-out day news ...

* Bruce Bowen said he hopes to finish out his contract in San Antonio. He is on the books next season for $4 million, only half of which is guaranteed. He doesn't want to go elsewhere.

"It would be a shock to me and my family, because this is home to us," Bowen said. "But if that's the case, we understand it's a business. Sometimes in business, there are tough decisions that need to be made."

* Michael Finley said he hadn't yet decided whether to opt into the final year of his contract with the Spurs. Finley is due $2.5 million, at his option.

"I haven't really thought about next year, to be quite honest," Finley said. "I'm going to sit back with my family now, enjoy this extended period of time off, and when the time comes that I have to make a decision about my future, that's when I'll make it."

That $2.5 million is free money to Finley, and he isn't likely to attract a better deal elsewhere. If Finley does return for a 15th season, it will probably be in a Spurs uniform.

Express News: Dwight as David: Twins in blame


By Buck Harvey

Dwight Howard has David Robinson's biceps and shoulders. He also has his name.

On the birth certificate, he's Dwight David Howard.

Dwight is also known to talk about his faith. Dwight's father was a state trooper, and David's a military lifer. Dwight, too, has an Olympic gold medal and a defensive player of the year award.

Then there's their odd attraction to underwater animation. Dwight loves “Finding Nemo,” and David once said his favorite movie was “The Little Mermaid.”

But Dwight is never closer to David than he is right now, coming off a one-basket game, with the world wondering if his lack of chest thumping hints at his lack of resolve.

As it was with David, it doesn't.

These men are different, too. While both were No. 1 overall draft picks, Dwight entered the league as a teenager, having never played a minute of college basketball. David debuted as a 24-year-old, older than Dwight is now.

Dwight is also shorter than David, and he doesn't yet have the shooting stroke that David had. David's educational background separates them as well.

Still, as soon as Dwight stepped into the NBA, the comparisons were made. “To me,” Doc Rivers said of Dwight the rookie, “he walks like David, talks like David.”

He also runs and jumps the way David did. Dwight has the same outrageous package of height and quickness, with a shot-blocker's instincts. Dwight, too, runs the floor and controls the space he is in.

They also share the same flaws. Dwight is not known for his footwork and post-up moves; he's not Tim Duncan.

Against Cavaliers defenders who were either too stiff, too small or both, Dwight could score 40 points in the finale. Against a tandem of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, two 7-footers ready to foul when beaten, he finished without even one dunk.

That doesn't mean he can't respond tonight. But Orlando will need to be smarter, getting Dwight the ball as he flashes or before the Lakers set up their defense.

Still, that's not what people see. They see Dwight smiling too much, as if he doesn't care, and Sports Illustrated framed the perception this spring. Is Dwight nasty enough to win a title?

One anecdote came from the All-Star Weekend. Then, Dwight willingly stood as a prop as Nate Robinson jumped over him to win the dunk contest. Kobe Bryant, among others, said he never would have done the same.

Dwight smiled again and shrugged. Isn't this event mostly about fun?

So when Dwight scored one basket in 35 minutes Thursday, everything was repeated. Critics said he wandered aimlessly (while somehow getting 15 rebounds), and this exchange came from a national columnist:

“One basketball Hall of Famer in attendance said Howard played with absolutely no ‘grrrrrrrrrr!' whatsoever, and he's right.”

David heard the same. His image was that he would have preferred to play piano or build a computer.

The truth: If anything, David was too wound up. When Hakeem Olajuwon beat him in 1995, it wasn't because he lacked passion.

Dwight cried as a rookie when he lost. But now he hides that, singing songs at the free-throw line because that helps him concentrate.

In this era of camera close-ups, it's damning. While Kobe growls, Dwight doesn't exhibit the proper histrionics. He's expected to curse or preen, because, for many, that's the measure of toughness.

Dwight doesn't seem to mind hearing that he lacks “grrrrrrrrrr.” He keeps smiling, maybe because he already knows what really matters.

His twin, after all, is heading to the Hall of Fame this fall.

Express News: Ginobili predicts complete recovery

By Jeff McDonald

Manu Ginobili boarded a flight to Argentina late Sunday afternoon, headed home for the first time in nearly a year.

This time, he planned to stay awhile, using his vacation to relax with friends and family and do all the things that a wandering son and brother does when he finally gets a chance to return home.

“I’ve got almost everything packed up and ready to go,” Ginobili said from his San Antonio home a few hours before leaving for the airport. “There was a lot to pack.”

Ginobili could be bringing everything but the kitchen sink back with him to Buenos Aires. It still wouldn’t match the baggage he carried the last time he made the trip home.

Last summer, the Spurs guard boarded a similar flight to his homeland to prepare for the Olympics in Beijing, bearing the weight of an entire nation’s expectations on his shoulders. He left behind an employer that had urged him to reconsider his loyalty to country and a Spurs fan base just praying he’d survive the summer in one piece.

Ginobili, the star of Argentina’s Olympic team, came back from Beijing in a boot after reinjuring the left ankle that had given him trouble during the 2008 playoffs. That twist of both ankle and fate led to a series of injuries that wiped out most of Ginobili’s 2008-09 season.

In his first interview since April 5, the day before a stress fracture in his right distal fibula put a premature end to the most tumultuous season of his career, Ginobili said Sunday that he expects to be fully recovered by the opening of training camp in October.

“For the past month or so, I haven’t felt any pain, even to the touch,” Ginobili said. “I don’t have any doubt I’ll be 100 percent before training camp starts.”

Much is riding on Ginobili’s latest recovery effort. Nothing the Spurs accomplish this offseason, either via the draft or free agency, will mean much if Ginobili cannot approach the form that made him the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2007-08.

Injury-plagued from start to finish, Ginobili missed all but 44 games last season, including all of the Spurs’ first-round playoff ouster against Dallas. He averaged 15.5 points, his fewest since 2005-06, while his shooting percentage dipped to 45.5 percent, his lowest since 2003-04.

As Ginobili heads home this summer, again recovering from an ankle injury but this time without an Olympic quest to hijack the healing process, he does so under no marching order other than to get well.

His long-term future in San Antonio could depend on it.

Ginobili, who will turn 32 next month, is entering the final year of a contract scheduled to pay him close to $16.1 million next season.

The Spurs had begun preliminary talks about a contract extension last summer before Ginobili left for China. Those negotiations were shelved when Ginobili re-injured his left ankle at the Olympics, and they have yet to resume.

“They want to see that I am healthy,” Ginobili said.

Ginobili is hopeful he can reach a deal that would allow him to finish his career in San Antonio.

“I have said a thousand times, I would love to stay here,” Ginobili said. “You know how the NBA is, though. There are not a lot of players who get to start and finish in the same place. I love San Antonio. If I have to take another road, you do what you have to do. But it would not be my first option, for sure.”

For the Spurs, who have played with their star guard injured for much of the past 14 months, the preferred option is to have Ginobili healthy.

The news so far this offseason has been encouraging.

An MRI taken Thursday showed the bone in his right leg completely healed. Ginobili expects to return to running and jumping next month, and he should be able to begin basketball work not long after that.

“All the things I have not been allowed to do, I should be allowed to do soon,” he said.

This summer, Ginobili hopes to reinvigorate his career in the same manner it went south last summer.

By boarding a plane to Argentina.


87 number of regular-season and playoff games the Spurs played during the 2008-09 campaign

44 games Ginobili played during the 2008-09 season, the fewest of his seven-year career

90 average number of regular-season and playoff games per season Ginobili played during his first six seasons


A painful 14 months

Spurs guard Manu Ginobili has spent much of the past 14 months either injured or rehabilitating from injury. Here is a glance at Ginobili’s recent treks to the training room:

April 2008: Ginobili experiences soreness in his left ankle during the Spurs’ first-round playoff series against Phoenix, but he continues to play through the discomfort.

May 2008: The pain in Ginobili’s ankle gets progressively worse. By the Western Conference finals against the Lakers, he is a shell of himself.

Aug. 22, 2008: Playing for Argentina in the Beijing Olympics, Ginobili re-aggravates the ankle injury. Diagnosed with a ligament impingement, he undergoes arthroscopic surgery two weeks later.

Nov. 24, 2008: Ginobili makes his season debut at Memphis, having missed the first 12 games recovering from surgery.

Feb. 16, 2009: Experiencing soreness in his right ankle that did not subside during the All-Star break, Ginobili does not make the final leg of the Spurs’ rodeo road trip. Doctors diagnose him with a stress reaction in his right distal fibula, which will sideline him for 19 more games.

March 25, 2009: Cleared by the team’s medical staff to return to action, Ginobili plays 14 minutes in a victory at Atlanta.

April 5, 2009: Ginobili again feels discomfort in the right ankle during a loss to Cleveland. He returns to San Antonio to be examined by the team’s medical staff.

April 6, 2009: Doctors determine Ginobili’s stress reaction has become a more ominous stress fracture, and they pronounce him out for the rest of the season and the playoffs.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Express News: Ever against Spurs, Kobe doin' work


By Buck Harvey - Buck Harvey

Spike Lee aimed 30 cameras at Kobe Bryant a year ago. In the background, playing the straight man in the film, were the Spurs.

Never has casting been more appropriate.

As the last NBA Finals of this decade begin tonight, the Spurs are in the background again. Kobe has a chance to cement the Lakers as the team of this decade and, if he does, the reason should be clear to anyone who remembers 2000.

Then Kobe looked the way he will look tonight.

The Lakers will win this championship. They have flaws, as the Rockets and Nuggets revealed, but they match up well with the Magic.

The Lakers have long defenders to stretch out on the Orlando 3-point shooters, and they have two 7-footers to stretch toward Dwight Howard. Lamar Odom will be a perfect counter for Rashard Lewis, Phil Jackson has experience on Stan Van Gundy and the Finals format will help the Lakers as it helps every team with the home-court advantage.

Then there's Kobe. Having played more NBA seasons, games and minutes than Tim Duncan, Kobe will still be able to take Mickael Pietrus where he wants to take him, then elevate over him.

Kobe was a physical marvel as a teenager, and not much has changed. Whereas each of the Spurs of this decade has risen and fallen, exchanging places on the graph of their primes, Bryant's knees and ankles have held a straight line.

His bio explains why. He skipped college, after all.

Still, he's only two years younger than Duncan, with more NBA wear. Wait a few years to see if LeBron James is able to do the same. Will his 250-pound body give in to gravity?

Kobe's body still defies gravity, but it won't hold up forever. He has put in a lot of miles for someone who will be 31 in August, and a warning of that came against Denver. Then Kobe did something no one can remember. He admitted he was fatigued.

Wednesday, in Los Angeles, he went the other way. Then he told the press, “I can play at a high level for another six years at least,” and he has reasons for wanting to. His sight is on Michael Jordan and his six rings.

But No. 4 would have significance, too, especially for his franchise. Both the Lakers and Spurs have three titles in this decade, and no other Western Conference team has even one.

Maybe that's why Lee chose a late-season Spurs-Lakers game in 2008 for “Kobe Doin' Work.” Lee had gotten the idea from a film about the French soccer star, Zinedine Zidane.

So the 30 cameras were set up, and at times Kobe acted as if he knew where each one was. At times he came across as he often does with the media — as if even he's not sure what is real and what is phony.

At times he was smart, with a deep understanding of the game. And at times he was funny. Kobe said waiting for Duncan to shoot a free throw “is like being at the longest stoplight in the world.”

The Lakers routed the Spurs that day, with Kobe sitting the entire fourth quarter. Fittingly, Manu Ginobili didn't play because of an injury.

The film limped, too, with critics panning “Kobe Doin' Work” as borin'. For once, no one blamed the Spurs.

Kobe recovered. He beat the Spurs in the Western Conference finals last season, and a year later he's back in the same place with a chance to win his fourth title this decade.

He's still jumping, still limber, still performing as if this were 2000. Only his straight man seems to get older.

ESPN: NBA's 65 in 65: Bruce Bowen


Welcome to The Show! On Saturday, we continue our 65 in 65. That's 65 NBA chats in 65 days. We will hold an NBA chat each day through the end of the NBA Finals. We'll bring you players, analysts, writers, anyone who can help you fill your NBA fix. Saturday's guest is San Antonio Spurs forward Bruce Bowen.

Known as one of the best defenders in the NBA, Bowen has been elected to the NBA All-Defensive First Team five times (2003-08) and the second team three times (2000-03). He was also a key contributor to three of the Spurs championships in 2003, 2005, and 2007.

Before joining the Spurs in 2001, Bruce made his way around the league playing for the Miami Heat (1996-97, 1999-00), Boston Celtics (1997-99) and the Philadelphia 76ers (1999-00).

Bruce Bowen: Hey, everybody. Bruce is in the chat building.

Terrance,MI: Hey bruce, has the window closed on the San Antonio Spurs? Or do they have another championship left in them?

Bruce Bowen: Of course we have another championship left in us. Part of it is everybody has to be healthy. If you're not healthy, it's a lot more difficult. That's why you play the game, so to say no that would be a disservice to everyone with the Spurs.

Jared (Edmonton, AB): Hi Bruce, if you were defending Kobe in Game 2 after the success he and the Lakers had in Game 1, what modifications would you make individually to keep Kobe more in check?

Bruce Bowen: I'd still work just as hard when he makes shots. Guys tend to let up because he makes shots. You have to weather the storm and try to deny him the ball. I think he got a lot of non-contested catches, and when you give someone of his ability those avenues he's going to take advantage of that every time.

Steven (NJ): How much longer do you plan to play in the NBA?

Bruce Bowen: As long as they'll have me.

derek, orlando, fl: Bruce, Have you ever thought about coaching in your future? You could become a great defensive mentor to young wing defenders.

Bruce Bowen: You know, my talent was playing the game. I'd like to be able to spend time with my family instead of being gone so much. Coaching requires a lot of time away from your family. I don't see it in my future. It takes a lot of time and effort, and a type of commitment that I'm just not willing to make right now.

Rye (Vancouver, BC): Bruce, huge fan of yours and the Spurs. Do you expect to return next season, if so how many changes do you expect? If not will you play elsewhere?

Bruce Bowen: I hope to be here. I expect to be here. I'm sure there will be changes, but I don't think there will be a truck load of changes. I think we still have key figures that you can still build around, so you don't need to dismantle the team. But I'm not trying to be a player and GM, so I just try to do the best I can. That's how I approach things.

Shayne - NY [via mobile]: Bruce... Who was the toughest player you've ever had to guard? Thanks!

Bruce Bowen: Michael Jordan. He really had an infectious personality with his teammates. He gave guys courage when they wouldn't have had it. Kind of like Kobe and his will right now.

Fahim (LA): Hey Mr. Bowen, who is tough to guard kobe or lebron?

Bruce Bowen: I see Kobe more than LeBron, but Kobe's resume has championships. And until LeBron wins championships, there's not much you can say to put them on the same level. Even though LeBron won MVP, there's still a gap between them. Kobe is getting a bit older and LeBron is feeling his way out. Kobe has been able to do a lot more with matchups, whereas LeBron is a facilitator in the offense. LeBron looks to get his teammates involved. And Kobe is looking to set up his shot while trying to find the passing lanes.

Bill (San Antonio): Some people view you as a dirty player, do you agree?

Bruce Bowen: That's so funny to me. I don't consider myself a dirty player. Everyone has an opinion. If you ask anyone in San Antonio or Miami and nine out of 10 times, they'll say no. But if you ask people in other cities, they'll say yes because of the success we had against their teams.

miguel (ny): Bruce, if you want one player from the NBA to be in your team who would it be.

Bruce Bowen: That's tough, because you don' get to know people unless you spend six weeks with them. That being said, it's hard for me to say who I'd like to play with.

miguel (ny): Bruce who do you think is going to win the finals?

Bruce Bowen: I don't have a pick. But the way L.A. came out, you can see that experience played a pivotal role.

Ariel (Los Angeles, Ca): Do you think ultimately the Magic have enough firepower for the lakers?

Bruce Bowen: Oh, yeah. They're a good team. They have quite the talent. It's just a matter of getting past what happened in Game 1.

Chris, Orlando FL: Bruce. What advice would you give Lee or Pietrus on defending Kobe? I thought in Game 1 they gave him too much respect and too much space. What are your thoughts?

Bruce Bowen: Kobe is a very good basketball player, so they didn't *give* him much of anything. But they have to continue to compete. Maybe deny him a bit more. Maybe don't let him get easy post-ups. Get him off the spot. Make him aware of you. Don't just let him get where he wants to be and go from there.

fahim (LA): Hi, why is it that you shoot better % of your 3s then your foul shots?

Bruce Bowen: That happened before, but that's not the case now. I don't shoot a high percentage of free throws. So if I got there with more frequency then I would be better. When I get into a rhythm I'm a lot better. There's no real excuses I can make. But other than my first year, it hasn't been as bad.

Amit Aggarwal (NJ): What do you do to keep yourself in such good shape while getting old?...in NBA years at least.

Bruce Bowen: It's important in the offseason to keep a solid regiment. Anything with the basketball is good. Not just shooting, but doing things at game speed. Exercising at game speed helps a great speed. I understand it's important that you don't want the coach to see that you're tired. I never wanted that to happen with me. I want them to see that when they give me an opportunity, I'll be ready and in great shape.

Kevin (San Antonio, TX): They say 70% of the earth is covered by water, and the rest is covered by Bruce Bowen. Is there anybody you can't guard?

Bruce Bowen: I think my competitiveness would say there isn't. I'm sure Tim, Shaq, Dwight Howard -- they would get their numbers against me. But as a competitor, I would say no. But I respect opponents, so it's not arrogance. It's all about how I prepare and the mutual respect we have.

Bruce Bowen: I appreciate the time, everyone. Chat folks, I am out of room! Take care.
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