In honor of Star Wars Day, we’re drawing comparisons between some key members of the San Antonio Spurs and the iconic movie franchise.
Every year on May the Fourth, fans from all over the globe congregate to celebrate Star Wars, one of the most iconic and recognizable movie franchises of all time. Like the San Antonio Spurs, fan’s attachment to Star Wars resonates far beyond the films themselves. With the elaborate plotlines and memorable characters, Star Wars has left enough impact for a lifetime on its fans.
Today, we’re going to celebrate the iconic film franchise by drawing comparisons between some key figures in the Spurs organization with fan favorites from the extended Star Wars universe. Beyond the flashy cinematics and dazzling special effects, Star Wars tells the story of people battling through adversity and dedicating themselves to their beliefs to achieve something greater than themselves.
The same ideas are ingrained in the Spurs franchise, in which players, coaches and organizational figures buy into something grander than the individual. It’s about the collaboration of many moving parts with the ultimate goal of earning an NBA championship like the team has done five times since 1999.
Star Wars is about love, betrayal, dedication, politics and more so than anything else, the human condition. For certain players like DeMar DeRozan and Lonnie Walker IV, this idea links to humble beginnings and the way they’ve dedicated themselves to their craft with the hopes of becoming a famous and well-respected individual in their field.
Strap in because we’re jumping to hyperspace and getting into the fun starting with the main villain of the franchise.
Next: The Chosen One
Kawhi Leonard – Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
In its entirety, the story of Star Wars’ main character Anakin Skywalker is quite tragic. Once a noble and beloved General of the Jedi Order, Skywalker was tempted time-and-time again by the dark side of the force, eventually turning against the Jedi and becoming the notorious Darth Vader.
Previously known by the Jedi as “The Chosen One,” meant to restore order to the galaxy and bring peace to all, Anakin fell victim to his impulses and eventually succumbed to the evil.
For the Spurs, this falls in line with the team’s last Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard. Chosen to be the successor of the Big Three in the Alamo City, Kawhi was all set to take over as the next leader of a high-class, well-oiled machine in San Antonio until the temptations of broader exposure and his own Empire led him to leave the franchise, crumbling it in the process.
Darth Vader became the most powerful force in the galaxy after leaving the Jedi Order, just as Kawhi became the most dominant force in basketball as leader of the Toronto Raptors in last year’s championship run. In both stories, Vader and Kawhi felt wronged by the organization that they left and deserted it under ravaging circumstances.
Spurs fans are never going to forget the difficulty that Kawhi put this organization through in his messy departure and for that, he’s going to be the primary villain in their story for years to come. Even with that being the case, fans actually really love Darth Vader and can’t help but watch his awe-inspiring power throughout Episodes IV, V and VI of the Star Wars franchise.
The same applies to a lot of Spurs fans who couldn’t help but tune into those Raptors games and now, follow the Clippers just because of how incredible Kawhi is at what he does. It’s too bad that he turned to the dark side of the force…
Next: A New Hope rises
Dejounte Murray – Luke Skywalker
The main protagonist of the original trilogy is Luke Skywalker, a young, up-and-coming Jedi who is later revealed to be the son of the late Anakin Skywalker, now known as Darth Vader. He begins his journey as reckless, untapped and unsure of himself, but by the end of his journey, he’s the most powerful man in the galaxy and restores the Jedi order.
San Antonio Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray is the last player on the team who really got the time to be around Leonard before he departed. He rose up in his shadows, taking over as the team’s starter in the year when Leonard sat out the majority of the season and providing a glimmer of hope for an organization that’s struggled to make light of a bad situation.
Just as Anakin was once considered the ‘Chosen One,’ Luke took on that role and eventually brought peace to the galaxy. That’s what Dejounte wants to be for this organization and he’s well on his way. Though it took him a bit of time to get reacclimated to game pace after spending a year derailed by a season-ending injury, Murray is back and better than ever.
The Spurs agreed to a four-year contract extension with Dejounte just prior to the start of this season, affirming their commitment to him as their point guard of the future. He’s going to be the key to what comes next for this team, whether they buy-in for a win-now situation or trend young with him as the leader.
Dejounte didn’t ask to be the man that everyone turns to; It was sprung on him suddenly. Now, he has to lead this motley crew of players into the next generation of Spurs basketball, just like Luke did beginning with his assault on the Death Star in Episode IV: A New Hope.
Next: A stable presence spanning multiple eras
LaMarcus Aldridge – Obi-Wan Kenobi
As the most steady presence in the series, representing all that is good in the Star Wars universe, Obi-Wan Kenobi was the veteran who fought alongside Anakin during his rise to power in the Clone Wars. Obi-Wan took Anakin under his wing as a padawan, using his extensive knowledge and even-keeled demeanor to offset the chaotic Skywalker.
For Kawhi, this level-headed running mate was seven-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, who was left to carry the workload when Leonard turned on the Spurs.
This wasn’t the first time that Aldridge had to take on a large majority of the workload since he carried the brunt of his team’s offense as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, but signed up for something different in the Alamo City.
However, Aldridge rolled with the punches and did what he had to do to keep this ship going, just like Obi-Wan did upon the conclusion of The Clone Wars. When Luke arrived at his doorstep looking to take that next step, he trained him, just as he trained his predecessor, and gave all that he could until the bitter end.
Considering the way Aldridge is talking about wanting to retire in San Antonio, he fits the Obi-Wan bill pretty perfectly. He’s been a great veteran to the younger players, providing a role model for how to put your head down and get to work every day to achieve their mutual goal of being an excellent basketball team.
Between Episodes III and IV, Kenobi’s role was to link the previous generation with the next and that’s exactly what Aldridge has done for the Spurs over the last four seasons in San Antonio.
Next: The pilots of the Millennium Falcon
Lonnie Walker IV and Chewbacca – Han Solo and Chewbacca
Few duos compare to Han Solo and Chewbacca, a ragtag team of smugglers who end up being storied champions for the Rebellion and two of the most iconic movie characters of all-time.
Solo has a ton of swagger and an attitude to match, living on the edge and trusting in himself to persevere in spectacular situations. He plays a major role in the grand scheme of the Star Wars universe despite never expecting to be put in the circumstances that he’s ended up in. Because of his charisma and underlying character, Lonnie Walker IV slots in as the Han Solo of the Spurs.
Throughout his story, we watch Han grow from an unrefined individual to a great leader and a selfless character who puts the greater good above personal glory. This is what’s expected from Walker, who never suspected he’d end up as a marquee figure for an organization of such prestige but is doing everything in his power to fulfill that potential.
Chewie, as he’s endearingly nicknamed by his friends and the fans, has always been extremely underrated for his role in the grand scheme of the Star Wars universe. He’s been around for longer than people remember, playing a part in the Clone Wars on his homeworld of Kashyyyk and playing a major part in the most recent films. He’s reliable, consistent, caring and always does what his team needs of him, which is why Derrick White makes perfect sense for the role.
Fans absolutely adore Chewbacca, just as the Spurs’ fanbase rallies for White at every opportunity. Sometimes, Chewie was undervalued by the characters in the story, just like White gets less of the praise and hype that the likes of Dejounte and Lonnie do. Still, he’s appreciated by everyone who watches him go throughout his journey and progression from afar.
Next: G.D.O.A.T (Greatest Droid of All-Time)
Patty Mills – R2-D2
Just like Chewie has been around for longer than people remember, the Skywalker’s droid companion, R2-D2 has been around for the entire stretch of the Star Wars films and has seen the brunt of the action over the years. The same applies to Spurs point guard Patty Mills, who has been with the team longer than any other player and still holds a place dearly in the hearts of the fans.
R2 has bailed out the protagonists more times than people can even remember, just like Mills has throughout his playing career. Whether it be his three-point barrage in the 2014 NBA Finals or any of his various game-winners since, Mills is one of the most dependable figures in franchise history and is likely to have his No. 8 retired for it.
More so than that, Mills stands for the culture of the organization and passes knowledge down every step of the way. If not for his guidance, the young players like Murray, White and Walker might not have a deep understanding of the Spurs Way. This applies most importantly to Murray, whose been his teammates for four seasons now.
Both on and off the court, it’s clear that Dejounte and Patty have chemistry. They each have an enduring competitive drive that helps them understand each other. Early in his career, Dejounte would come off the bench alongside Patty to get acclimated to the NBA.
R2-D2 becomes Luke Skywalker’s companion, just like he was Anakin’s before that. He has a special way of connecting with his comrades, but more specifically, with the most important members of the plot. Patty’s relationship with the Big Three was phenomenal, he worked great with Kawhi and now, he fits in as a companion for Dejounte.
These are two figures that are intrinsically good and stand for what’s right for their teams.
Next: Greatest Power Forward, He Is
Tim Duncan – Yoda
For young Spurs fans, the most recent introduction to Tim Duncan will have been as an assistant coach sitting on the sidelines with players. However, Duncan is easily the greatest player to ever play power forward and set the stage for everything that came after him in San Antonio. Even now that he’s past his prime and can’t contribute on the floor, Duncan is still there to give guidance to those who carry his torch.
If that doesn’t sound like Master Yoda, I don’t know what does.
One of the more recognizable figures in all of Star Wars, Yoda was the leader of the Jedi Council in the Clone Wars and is one of the most powerful Jedi in the universe. His wealth of knowledge spans hundreds of years and many victories for the Jedi Order which he’s passed down to generations upon generations of Jedi who followed him.
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If not for Yoda’s influence, none of this may have come to fruition and had Duncan not been drafted first to the Spurs in 1997, they probably wouldn’t have five championships today.
After Yoda went into hiding following the conclusion of the Clone Wars, he went on to train Luke Skywalker in his pursuit of becoming a Jedi Master. Though he couldn’t participate in the battle himself, he gave everything he could until his fateful death to set Luke on the path to defeat evil and restore the balance of power in the galaxy.
Yoda is methodical in his decision-making and doesn’t show much fear or emotion in the most crucial of moments. The same can be said of Duncan, who barely showed frustration on the court and rarely celebrated outside of some heated playoff successes and when he raised championship trophies above his head in glory.
Even if he didn’t come back to coach, Timmy would align with Yoda, but the fact that he came back to continue sharing his wealth of knowledge really sealed the deal.