Found October 31, 2012 on
Fox Sports Southwest:
San Antonio Spurs
Oklahoma City Thunder
Molding themselves after the Spurs has worked out well for the Thunder. Small markets. Committed and largely hands-off owners. Humble yet dominant superstars.
Yet, Oklahoma City took a turn on the road to being San Antonio.
OKC opens its season Thursday night in the Alamo City in a rematch of the most recent Western Conference finals, and judging by the Lakers' opener, and possible preview of the next.
The Spurs' inclusion in the title conversation is a product of their stability. Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich own the most wins for any player-coach duo in NBA history. Duncan and Tony Parker have played more games together than any set of current teammates. The top three spots in career winning percentage for active players are Manu Ginobili, Parker and Duncan.
Oh yeah, the Spurs' winning percentage over the last 15 years is the best in North American pro sports.
Thunder general manager Sam Presti began his career as an intern in San Antonio. The Spurs won three titles during his eight years there, as he climbed the front office ranks. Presti knows the San Antonio Way, and it's served him well building a title hopeful out of the Seattle Sonics' rubble.
Part of that SA Way is keeping what you've got. The Spurs don't lose stars. Oklahoma City lost one last week, trading away an Olympic gold medalist and reigning Sixth Man of the Year. The Spurs wouldn't have traded James Harden because they've never had to.
Success has been the Spurs' greatest recruiting advantage. San Antonio won championships before any of the Three Amigos ran through their rookie contracts.
Duncan stood atop the NBA mountain after his second year in the league. Tony Parker, too. Manu Ginobili did them one better, collecting a ring as a rookie.
So when it came time to negotiating with champions, San Antonio's front office didn't have the sell the chance to win big. Pop and Peter Holt just had to nod over to the Larry O'Brien trophies in the room.
And other than Duncan in San Antonio, no other Spur has been signed to anything approaching max money. That has a lot to do with the makeup of the team, as a clear pecking order has been established with Duncan at the top of the money pyramid for so many years and everyone else working their way down.
Mark Cuban once said that Manu Ginobili would easily command a maximum contract in markets such as New York. Ginobili's first post-rookie contract didn't close to breaking the bank.
The Spurs of the Duncan-Pop Era were never forced into trading a foundation piece. That hasn't happened in San Antonio since Sean Elliott and Dennis Rodman in the mid-1990s.
No such luck in OKC. Shorter rookie contracts plus longer development periods have pressed Presti into make franchise-anchoring decisions faster than his San Antonio counterparts ever had to.
Kevin Durant and Durant Westbrook received max extensions before the Thunder ever played in the Finals. Serge Ibaka is making a pretty penny.
Locking those three up isn't without consequence. The punitive luxury-tax rules in the new CBA don't nurture the exorbitant payrolls of yesteryear.
"The challenges of sustaining success are a lot more stringent that those of achieving success," Presti said earlier this week. "We're not immune to that."
Had the Thunder beaten Miami, perhaps Harden is content playing third banana on the league's best team. Perhaps he can live with 56 million instead of 60 million in OKC.
Still, titles don't always guarantee hometown discounts. Just as Cuban's Mavericks.
So Harden agrees on 80 million with the Rockets. That's good business on Harden's end and Oklahoma City's.
After the Thunder didn't win it all in June, Harden didn't budge from his number. Neither did Presti. GMs don't trade players so young and with that much ceiling. Just as Cleveland and Toronto. The former San Antonio intern moved a Harden with nary a blink.
That's more than just a poker face. That's a clear vision of where the Thunder are going and how they're getting there. Presti turned Harden into the proven Kevin Martin and promising Jeremy Lamb, plus two first-round picks. The Thunder's track record in the draft suggests they'll do all right there.
Commend Presti for staying his course, realizing it's not the path the franchise he once toiled for ever had to walk.
The Spurs never had to take that road. The Thunder, as much as some would like them to be, aren't the Spurs.
Follow Art Garcia on Twitter: @ArtGarcia92
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Stephen Jackson's new mixtape features a few NBA players, such as LeBron and Kevin Durant, but one player who wasn't allowed to make a cameo was Jackson's teammate.
AGING LIKE FINE WINE
Who says 36-year old Tim Duncan can't get it done on the hardwood anymore? Duncan posterized Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka during the second quarter of the Spurs-Thunder game on Thursday night. Duncan has provided many jams such as this over the course of his career and he doesn't look like he's going to be closing up shop anytime soon either.
Stephen Jackson takes his music as seriously as his NBA career. In fact, if the highly-entertaining interview he gave recently is any indication he probably cares about rapping more than playing basketball. That’s why he had no problem flat-out denying Tim Duncan when Duncan asked if he could rap on his new album. “I asked him if I could rap a little on his album, and he told...
San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan threw down a one-handed poster dunk over Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka in the second quarter of Thursday night's NBA game at the AT&T Center.
Duncan led the Spurs with 20 points and 8 rebounds to lead them to a 86-84 win over the Thunder.
Visit us at http://holdoutsports.com and Follow @HoldoutSports...
Some would say that Tim Duncan was never a theatrical Wham-Bam-Thank-You-Maam dunker, but the advanced aged San Antionio Spurs star shows younger Oklahoma City Thunder player, Serge Ibaka, that he still has moves on Thursday night.The post Tim Duncan Dunks On Serge Ibaka (Video) appeared first on The NBA Mistress.
Last night San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan grabbed eight rebounds in a 86-84 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. With those eight boards, Duncan passed Charles Barkley on the NBA's career rebounding list.
Barkley finished his career with 12,546 boards and Duncan now has 12,552 boards moving TD into 17th place. In 16th place is Bob Pettit with 12,849 rebounds. TD will need...
In the coming weeks, San Antonio forward Stephen Jackson is expected to drop his new rap album called, "Jack of All Trades".The album will feature S-Jax and famous rappers, The Game and Jim Jones. What the album won't contain is any rapping from Spurs big man, Tim Duncan.According to the Twitter feed of Jeff McDonald with the San-Antonio Express News, Duncan seemed...
NEW ORLEANS – If Tim Duncan is the gold standard by which all other NBA power forwards are measured, the San Antonio Spurs' future Hall of Famer gushed over what he saw across the court Wednesday night in New Orleans Hornets' rookie Anthony Davis, the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. Duncan scored 24 points, including nine of San Antonio's final 12 points, and grabbed...
It’s not often that I have to check a roster to figure out exactly who was involved in a Poster of the Day. It’s not often that I have to check a roster for any reason, really. That being said, I must admit… I had no idea who Hornet #8 was when I first watched the following video.
Ah yes, Roger Mason! Remember that season he spent with the Spurs, the one where he hit...
Since there was only one game on the NBA schedule yesterday, the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs featured our dunk of the night.
Watch as San Antonio forward Tim Duncan lowers the boom on Thunder forward Serge Ibaka:
In addition to Tony Parker hitting that buzzer beater on Thursday night to lift the Spurs over the Thunder, Tim Duncan reminded you why he is still one of the best power forwards in basketball. Duncan may be a 15-year NBA vet but he can still get up. Check out his dunk on Serge [...]
The San Antonio Spurs (1-0) will face the Oklahoma City Thunder (0-0) tonight in San Antonio for the Spurs home-opener. The Spurs are coming off a narrow 99-95 win over New Orleans last night thanks to huge efforts from Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.
But tonight's game will be a rematch of last season's Western Conference Finals where the Thunder rattled off four games in...
Tim Duncan scored 24 points, Tony Parker hit a huge 3-pointer, and the San Antonio Spurs opened the season with a 99-95 victory over the New Orleans Hornets in the debut for top draft pick Anthony Davis on Wednesday night.
Davis scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds, a promising start for the player who spent only one year at Kentucky, leading the Wildcats to the national...
The San Antonio Spurs won a nail-biter against the Oklahoma City Thunder last night 86-84 thanks to a game-winning shot by Tony Parker.
The entire game was filled with many highlight-worthy plays but none were bigger than Tim Duncan smashing one down on shot-blocker extraordinaire Thunder's Serge Ibaka, blocking scoring machine Kevin Durant and Parker's game winner...