Originally written on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 1/17/13
We've seen an emergence of a youthful Tim Duncan this year as the San Antonio Spurs are impressing the critics that once called them "too old." Manu Ginobili has thrown impressive passes and we're seeing the rise of Tiago Splitter that's been expected of him since he first was signed by the Spurs. That's all well and good for some fans, but the majority of the base won't remember them next year. If you ask a Spurs fan about memorable highlights the past few seasons, they may come up with one or two (especially from Ginobili), but they'll agree on one thing and that's that the year was wasted because the team didn't win an NBA title. To the Silver and Black faithful, the only way the year is a success is if the Spurs are the last team standing in June and there's a party down the River Walk. The fans aren't the only ones focusing on the playoffs already, coach Gregg Popovich is too. After the Spurs defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 103-82 last night, Pop revealed if he has his sights set on the regular season. "That's not a goal of ours. We only have one goal. We don't start any season saying we want to win this many games by this time of year and that kind of thing."   With Duncan's career coming to an end, the Spurs know their championship hopes are in the same boat. Once Duncan leaves, the veteran leadership he brings goes along with him and probably a few more players including the head coach.   The team doesn't have the luxury they once did of being patient until the next year, they have to win a title for this year. When players fade into the sunset, no one remembers the regular season games they had.   When Karl Malone's name pops up, he may be regarded as the second greatest power forward of all time, but the talk about championships always follows. When Shaquille O'Neal is mentioned, his dominance and championships belong together.   The same is with Duncan.   He's got his Hall of Fame resume completed, but the team and its fans want to say goodbye the same way they did to legend David Robinson.   While Duncan's youthful performances are impressive, unless a title comes along with it they'll fade like the season will. That's not Pop's strategy for the season, especially when you remember how he's sat his players because of a difficult schedule early on and have won games with their depth. Pop's strategies always come with a long term goal even if it means there's some type of loss in the short term.   Popovich's view on the bigger picture is what makes him what he is and one of the greatest coaches of all time knows there's still room for another title ring on his thumb.
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