San Antonio’s “Big Three” isn’t going anywhere. Tony Parker is still in his prime, Tim Duncan is coming off of his best season in years, and Manu Ginobili has professed to want to play a few more years in the NBA despite his declining rate of contribution. Ginobili will become a free agent in July, but both Parker and Duncan are signed through next season, and possibly through 2015 if Duncan picks up his player option for 2014-15, and the Spurs fully guarantee Parker’s salary that season.
This could be it for the team in terms of championship potential, though. And in light of the troika’s Game 7 appearance on Thursday night, and the sense of impermanence that will follow win or lose, the super-clever Chris Littman at the Sporting News put together a Vine showcasing just how much had changed since 2003 around the championship-winning triptych of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili.
(And Gregg Popovich. We can’t forget about Coach Pop. Otherwise, he won’t invite us to dinner.)
Ten years’ worth of change, all documented in a setting that (happily) reminds me of the Michel Gondry-directed video for Donald Fagen’s “Snowbound.”
The Spurs won their first title with this particular Big Three in 2003, but it’s easy to forget how dodgy things seemed that particular year. Parker had a terrible playoff run, he was supplanted by Speedy Claxton during significant stretches and had to watch in the offseason as the Spurs attempted to make a scoring guard out of him by lusting after free agent Jason Kidd in the following offseason. An ankle sprain during Manu Ginobili’s rookie year in 2002-03 made it so Stephen Jackson had to take over as Chief Swingman Provocateur at times, and David Robinson’s 2003 retirement created (as you saw above) a revolving door of various big man types to work alongside Tim Duncan.
The team made it work, though, to the tune of three and potentially four championships with Parker and Ginobili on board. And five, total, with Duncan and Popovich at the helm.
The drive for five is on Thursday night. Get your iPhones ready.