Passing the torch to Tiago Splitter
Sunday starts a new season. The season everyone wants to be included, but only sixteen teams can earn a spot. The Spurs have been a regular come playoff time, but the time is ticking on the Big Three’s reign. We’ve seen a lot of new faces in the organization recently, and it’s this new group of guys that have the pressure of maintaining San Antonio’s elite status. But it isn’t like they haven’t done it before.
The last time the NBA suffered a shortened season due to a lockout, Tim Duncan was just a young sophomore trying to make a name in the league and prove himself worthy to play side-by-side with guys like David Robinson, Sean Elliott, and Avery Johnson to name a few. That was 1999. This is 2012. And is it any coincidence Tiago Splitter, a young, hopeful talent, is trying to follow in the footsteps of Duncan by winning his first championship in his second year in the NBA during a lockout a season?
History has an odd way of repeating itself. Splitter’s career is still undefined, but right now, he looks to be one of the faces of the future in San Antonio. He is the next big man for this younger generation of Spurs fans, so what does that make Tim Duncan?
The Big Fundamental is at the tail-end of his illustrious basketball career. Many people would argue he is too old and needs to call it quits. Those people who hate on the Spurs may get their wish sooner than later, though.
Duncan, a veteran of the NBA, is still a force down low, but he now must embrace his role as a mentor and direct guys like Tiago in the right direction for the future of this franchise. Sound familiar?
Mr. Double-Double basically has become David Robinson for the Spurs. Everyone loves him, no one wants to see him leave, but you get the feeling if the Spurs win a fifth title that Duncan will take the Admiral approach and hang it up after 15 magical seasons and close on a championship.
Even if it does go down that way, it would all be worth it after what Robinson did for the team and now what Duncan has done for San Antonio.
Duncan and Splitter are not the Twin Towers like 21 and 50 were, but they are two players definitely fun to watch. Also, Boris Diaw’s arrival has taken away from Splitter’s playing time, but I would like to think Splitter will play just as big of a role as Diaw in the postseason.
Against Utah, Timmy and Tiago will have a tall order in the form of a massive Utah front court. Diaw, DeJuan Blair, and Matt Bonner will be necessary to help San Antonio overcome the Jazz.
The Jazz are a solid squad, and in the West, eight seeds have proven to be just as tough as a first round opponent than the next seed. The Warriors shocked the world when they knocked off Dallas in 2007. The Thunder took the Lakers to six games in 2010. And last year, well, you know.
San Antonio’s journey will be a challenging one, but the big fellas working down low will be vital in leading San Antonio to the promised land. A healthy Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili will be monumental, and we know they are capable of totally shifting the momentum of a ball game. However, San Antonio will heavily rely on their front court to be enforcers throughout the 2012 playoffs.