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Silent Spurs look like title contenders, again


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The franchise with the best record in professional basketball is at it again.

Somehow, some way, the San Antonio Spurs have managed to conduct business at altitudes so low no radar can possibly detect their presence.

Maybe that changes this summer if the Spurs, the NBA’s version of Al Gore at Open Mic Night, are giddily passing around a fifth Lawrence O’Brien Trophy.

Maybe it doesn’t.

Despite being the poster child for excellence sustained, a franchise on the verge of celebrating its 17th consecutive winning season and 11th division title since the 1997-98 regular season, San Antonio is remarkably unhip.

Three NBA franchises call Texas home with only one, Houston, carrying much street cred. Thank Dwight Howard and James Harden’s famous beard for that.

Mention of San Antonio invites images of Tim Duncan banking in a flat-footed 12-footer from the wing. Superstars such as LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Paul George better capture the essence of today’s high-flying game.

The Spurs, who visit the Pacers tonight, are the group

of 40-something men from down the street who back in the day challenged you and your buddies to friendly games to 10.

Their midsections might have hung low, their socks possibly pulled too high. And you tried to avoid glancing at either for fear of tumbling to the court in laughter.

After a few humiliating moments of careening off solid screens and being unable to jockey for decent rebounding position, you realized you’re trailing, 9-4.

Game point!

One theory is Gregg Popovich, an East Chicago native and Merrillville High School product, is one of the greatest coaches the league has seen. Another is that Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili simply exhaust opponents with old-school offensive and defensive symmetry.

Then there are the naysayers pointing to the Spurs playing in the less-than-imposing Northwest Division alongside Portland, Minnesota, Denver and Utah.

Nonetheless, winning 70-percent of your 82 regular-season games is impressive stuff. San Antonio is closing in on doing it 11 times in the past 16 years.

Since 1998-99 the Spurs teams are 129-77 (.626) ... in the postseason.

With Duncan turning 38 in April and Ginobili 37 in July, San Antonio’s window to another championship is about to slam shut on management’s fingers.

Right?

Right?

That’s what people said when Spurs center David Robinson retired 11 years ago.

Flunking finals

The Boys State Basketball Finals completed its 17th version of having four champions crowned over the weekend.

Boy, does time flies when you’re not paying attention.

In a perfect world — OK, my perfect world — Tech, Greensburg, Park Tudor and a fourth from the northern part of the state would have converged on Bankers Life Fieldhouse to crown one state champion.

The way it used to be. The way it ought to be.

This isn’t to say class basketball hasn’t penned fabulous stories because it has. It’s created tears of joy, tears of sorrow, memories promising to last a lifetime and unification within communities that otherwise may have never come together.

But what today’s 25-under crowd doesn’t remember is how the boys basketball finals — and to a lesser degree the girls basketball Finals — were unofficial state holidays.

You stopped what you were doing and watched. If not in person, then on television.

Four programs. One trophy. An entire state paying attention.

Sigh!

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