View Full Version : Spurs Begin Title Defense

10-03-2005, 07:10 PM

NBA champion Spurs to begin title defense on island paradise

Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO - The U.S. Virgin Islands mean sun, surf and laid-back Caribbean attitudes, but don't count on the San Antonio Spurs spending much time sipping umbrella drinks at a beachside cabana.

The NBA champion Spurs left town Monday to begin their title defense with a nine-day training camp at the University of St. Thomas, not far from where their star player, Tim Duncan, grew up.

Duncan said he's ready for his dual role as on-court centerpiece and off-court tour guide.

"It's going to be stressful, but it's going to be fun," he said. Duncan is from the nearby island of St. Croix.

Training camp opens Tuesday and will wrap up Oct. 13, when the team flies to Charleston, S.C., for a preseason game the following night against Philadelphia. (I guess he forgot about the game in Miami on the 10th)

On St. Thomas, newcomer free agents Michael Finley and Nick Van Exel will begin to get used to their roles on a stable and successful squad where they have little to no chance to crack the starting lineup.

"I know that my role will be off the bench and I have no problem with that," said Finley, the former Dallas swingman who passed up much bigger money elsewhere to sign with San Antonio. "They've been successful without me, so I'm just going to try to contribute in any way, shape or form that I can."

San Antonio also signed Fabricio Oberto, a 6-foot-10 forward who has played for years with Manu Ginobili on the Argentina national team that last year won the Olympic gold medal in Athens.

Ginobili said Oberto, a 30-year-old star in the Spanish league, is not only coming into a city where many people speak his language, but also onto a team where the ball-sharing philosophy is reminiscent of the playing style in Europe.

"It's hard to find a better situation than this," Ginobili said. "He's a smart guy, a smart player. ... Hopefully he's going to feel good and start contributing from the beginning."

Finley, 32, became one of the NBA's most coveted free agents when the Mavericks waived him in August under the league's new one-time amnesty clause. The 10-year veteran, who has averaged 19 points and 37 percent accuracy on 3-pointers in his career, is still owed nearly $52 million in salary from the Mavs.

He said joining the Spurs will provide his best chance so far to finally win a league title.

"For this team to want to repeat and me to want to get my first (championship), I think will be a great combination," said Finley, who is coming off his best season as a 3-point shooter (40.7 percent) but one of his worst years overall at 15.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.

Repeating is also on the minds of returning players, and they see Finley and Van Exel helping in that cause.

"I want to repeat really, really bad and I know a lot of the other guys want to repeat," said Robert Horry, who will be going for his seventh title. "And I know especially Nick and Mike coming in, they want a ring, so that's going to give us extra fuel."

San Antonio is favored by many to win a third championship in four years, but Duncan waves off all the talk.

"It doesn't matter to us if we're the favorite or not, we play the same way," Duncan said. "More than anything it's about chemistry. It's about people understanding what you do and accepting their roles. More talent doesn't always mean a better team."

Not that Duncan doesn't think the Spurs are better than last year, at least on paper.

"We reloaded pretty good," he said. "We like our team, we like our chances ... We're not thinking we're the best out here. We're thinking we have to work to be the best out here."

10-03-2005, 07:12 PM
that picture actually got me teary-eyed i/expressions/face-icon-small-sad.gif

10-03-2005, 07:14 PM
"It doesn't matter to us if we're the favorite or not, we play the same way," Duncan said. "More than anything it's about chemistry. It's about people understanding what you do and accepting their roles. More talent doesn't always mean a better team."

a true superstar.
a true leader.
definitely the MVP.

10-03-2005, 07:17 PM
you need to play to be the MVP. Let's see how everyone plays before handing Duncan an MVP trophy.

I personally think that Dirk should be top 3 again this year, possibly above Duncan.

10-03-2005, 07:43 PM
I'm not saying give TD the MVP trophy, I'm just saying that's how MVP's should act and how MVP's should speak. The way he carries himself is taken for granted in today's day and age.

My MVP pick this year is actually Lebron James at 21 years of age leading the Cavs to the playoffs and a top 4 seeding (homecourt).
He averaged 7 assists with mediocre players around him, I won't be surprised if I see his assists jump to double digits.
27 points will surely go down but not much, and at 6' 8" in the top 1% in atleticsm his rebounding will always be there as well.

25 pts 7 rebs 10 asts

isn't his goal is to average a triple double, yikes.

10-04-2005, 12:55 AM
If Van Exel is another Horry: Deep in daring

Buck Harvery / San Antonio Express-News

Robert Horry knows Nick Van Exel, and not just because they were once Lakers teammates.

Horry knows Van Exel because Horry is Van Exel. Horry says he, too, could have reacted badly to losing situations as Van Exel did at times. "Because I once did," Horry said Monday.

But the comparison goes beyond that. This is about how athletes react to tension, and how some don't mind, and how Horry threw in the shot that changed last season.

Van Exel, Horry says, can do the same.

Van Exel and Horry were just two of the bodies who drifted through a San Antonio hotel Monday on their way to the Virgin Islands. Some of the others were taller, most were younger and as a group they were as impressive as any the Spurs have ever had.

Three centers, three point guards, two Argentines, two ex-Mavericks and one Tim Duncan. The Spurs are loaded, with more depth than they've ever had, and the power is so undeniable that Gregg Popovich admits to all of it.

But, in October, it's just promise. As Duncan said when asked how the Spurs looked on paper, "Paper doesn't mean anything."

Popovich naturally agrees. "The same, important stuff will determine if we win," he said. "If the big boys step up, if you are healthy, if everyone accepts their roles, if our defense is solid, if we get a few breaks."

The Spurs got some breaks last year. Every playoff series came down to a sequence or two, whether in overtime against Denver or a Duncan shot that eliminated Seattle.

"And we really kicked Detroit's rear end, didn't we?" Popovich said sarcastically.

Still, this depth is different than anything Popovich has ever had. He says he's daydreamed this summer about the possibilities, and one idea is this: Instead of shaving minutes here or there, he might sit players for an entire game in back-to-back situations.

Why not give Manu Ginobili a night off, for example, if he's wearing down? Popovich will have that luxury, since his second team (Horry, Van Exel, Michael Finley, Rasho Nesterovic and Brent Barry) would make for a serviceable first.

But Popovich won't be merely inserting talented pieces. He will be finding big moments for guys who have had them.

Horry says last year's group will feel even more confident this year because, he says, "What we did carries over." Horry lived that when he repeated once with the Rockets and twice with the Lakers.

But not even those Lakers added players such as Van Exel and Finley, and this is what excites Horry. "They will fit perfectly," he said.

Finley already impresses. In workouts the past week, he's made shots and an impression.

Van Exel arrived later and with a less solid resume. He could push a ref, yell at a coach, act like a quitter. As one West Coast columnist said recently, Van Exel can be a con man, too.

But Horry sees it like this: Van Exel often played for losing teams, and losing brought out the worst. Horry suspects he might have been the same, but he was lucky to end up on three franchises that won titles.

The one time Horry didn't? Then, in Phoenix, Horry threw a towel at his coach during a game, and he was soon traded. "Sometimes guys react like that," he said, "because of their competitive fires."

He sees Van Exel as the same, albeit with one difference. "Nick," said Horry, "has even bigger turnips than I do."

Horry didn't actually use the word "turnips," but that term plays better in a newspaper.

When told what Horry said, Van Exel didn't raise an eyebrow. "Robert has hit bigger shots," Van Exel said, "but he's been in bigger games."

Bigger games. That's what Van Exel and Finley came to San Antonio for. And Van Exel says he can't wait. "Me and Fin," he said, "we're going to fill a void."

If Van Exel is healthy, he will make a Clippers game in February easier. Then he will shoot 9 for 11, turning a close game into a rout, and Popovich's job will be to limit the 3 for 11s.

And in May or June? When Ginobili turns the corner, and the defense collapses on Duncan, and the clock ticks down?

Then Horry says there will be two of him on the court.

And that's depth.

10-04-2005, 12:58 AM
Spurs look into glaring expectations

Johnny Ludden
Express-News Staff Writer

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St. Thomas The Spurs touched down here Monday, anticipating not only Caribbean-flavored wind and rain but blustery expectations befitting a championship team that spent a summer assembling what appears to be its most talented roster.

The team, which opens training camp this afternoon at the University of the Virgin Islands, hopes the weeklong stay will renew its focus, help it get in shape and acclimate its newest members.

Or maybe not.

"I think we're just going to sit on the beach and talk," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich deadpanned. "Between boogie-boarding and everything else, we'll figure it all out."

While thunderstorms may limit fun in the sun, the Spurs figure to have a more difficult time escaping the spotlight.

After dethroning the Detroit Pistons in seven games in the NBA Finals, the Spurs look more than capable of continuing their own reign. They re-signed playoff hero Robert Horry and added a pair of former All-Stars (point guard Nick Van Exel and swingman Michael Finley) and one Olympic gold medalist (Argentine forward Fabricio Oberto). Devin Brown was the only player from last season's regular rotation to leave.

As a result, several pundits have penciled in the Spurs as repeat champions. Some of the more delirious fans even have forecast a 70-victory season.

"We haven't ever been in a situation like this," Bruce Bowen said. "A lot of times Pop is putting things together, and we have to achieve even though we're not getting any recognition. Now, you have to fight that people are saying how good you are. You have to fight that battle as if no one is saying anything.

"Since I've been here that's been our motto: Fly under the radar, take care of business and things will happen as they should."

The Spurs would prefer to avoid the attention altogether. While acknowledging it's difficult not to feel satisfied, Manu Ginobili said the team can't afford to believe the hype.

"That," Ginobili said, "is when bad things happen."

The Spurs' previous two efforts at repeating have taught them not to look too far ahead.

After winning the 1999 title, the Spurs began the following season without starting small forward Sean Elliott, who underwent a kidney transplant. They ended it, in the first round of the playoffs, with Tim Duncan sidelined by a knee injury.

The Spurs looked well on their way to repeating their 2003 championship, even after David Robinson retired. Until, that is, Derek Fisher broke their hearts with his infamous .4 shot in the Western Conference finals.

As opposed to both of those seasons, however, the Spurs open training camp without a hole to fill in their lineup. Instead, Popovich's challenge is to mesh Finley and Van Exel two players used to playing heavy minutes into the rotation without disrupting last season's championship chemistry.

"This is the deepest team we've had talent-wise," Popovich said. "What I'm hoping is that it ends up being the deepest team we've had knowledge-wise, with professionalism and basketball IQ."

Said Duncan, "More talent doesn't always mean a better team."

The Spurs hope to start that bonding process in the Caribbean. Popovich decided to hold camp in Duncan's homeland after receiving an invitation from UVI's athletic director.

"It should be a blast," said Duncan, who grew up on the neighboring island of St. Croix. "Hopefully, we'll get some work done but also relax and enjoy ourselves."

Popovich wants the team to have fun but also remember the task at hand. And the Spurs can start, he said, by forgetting last season.

"As coaches, we have to create an environment where we don't allow anyone to skip a step or think that they've arrived," Popovich said. "It's our job to remind them that it takes a long journey to get to the top.

"In some ways it's the journey that makes the prize so sweet. If you try to cut that short, when June comes, you're going to be watching someone else on TV."

10-04-2005, 02:02 AM
I'm just happy that one-third of the Mavs top six from that glorious '03 team will retire with rings on their hands. God bless 'em.

10-04-2005, 04:12 AM
San Antonio, Phoenix, your days are numbered!
Every faithful Mavs fan awaken, for the day of reckoning is near!


don't believe in your words? =p

10-04-2005, 02:53 PM


10-04-2005, 03:01 PM
Originally posted by: #1MavsFan


Just another Spare......uh, sorry, meant Spur...

10-04-2005, 07:38 PM
Just another Spare......uh, sorry, meant Spur...

Those spares must get tired of winning titles. i/expressions/anim_roller.gif

Here's a couple pictures from camp.

http://us.news3.yimg.com/us.i2.yimg.com/p/ap/20051004/capt.vir10410042208.virgin_islands_spurs_camp_vir1 04.jpg

http://us.news3.yimg.com/us.i2.yimg.com/p/ap/20051004/capt.vir10710042225.virgin_islands_spurs_camp_vir1 07.jpg

http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20051004/capt.vir11010042237.virgin_islands_spurs_camp_vir1 10.jpg

http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20051004/capt.vir10910042231.virgin_islands_spurs_camp_vir1 09.jpg

http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20051004/capt.vir10610042222.virgin_islands_spurs_camp_vir1 06.jpg

10-04-2005, 09:12 PM
is don nelson at the spurs camp? did i miss something?

10-04-2005, 09:36 PM
where do you guys go to get these pictures..

10-04-2005, 10:22 PM
is don nelson at the spurs camp? did i miss something?

Yep, he's there. I'm not sure how long because he also plans to visit the Denver Nuggets as well. He's just visiting his good friends (Pop, George Karl) and to see how they run there camps. He had to get an ok from Cuban to do so but he's not looking for a job or anything.

where do you guys go to get these pictures..

Here you go alby:

Click on gallery.

Yahoo Sports (http://sports.yahoo.com/nba)

Media Day and Camp pictures are still at the top but you might need to do a search for specific names.

Getty Images (http://editorial.gettyimages.com/source/search/product.aspx?p=2&e=0&pg=1&am=-1)

10-05-2005, 12:37 AM
thanks mff

10-05-2005, 10:33 AM
WTF@Don Nelson being at Spurs training camp. I'm already amped about the Spurs season. They have to be the deepest team in the NBA. Finally a Spurs team I can cheer for.

Thanks for the articles MFF. The bolds really were a good read.