The San Antonio Spurs currently lead the Miami Heat 2-1 in the NBA Finals due to their resilience and nearly flawless basketball play. They have demonstrated season after season that they know how to win and how to compete with anyone that challenges them, but could this be the last of the Spurs as we know them?
This question has several facets to it. Firstly, it depends on whether or not the Spurs actually win the title, as a fifth championship ring would certainly heat up conversation about Duncan's retirement. This would also have an effect on Tony Parker and Manu Ginóbili. Manu is currently 36 years old, and already has a decorated career, so if Duncan did decide to retire then it would certainly affect Manu's decision. These Finals could also affect the future of Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich. At 65 years old, we are all left to wonder how many more years he can coach the team at the same level. Duncan has been very elusive about the topic of retirement, but it seems as though he may be trying to cover up just how important this Finals appearance is to them.
If the Spurs do not win the championship, then what happens? Its hard to see them making a third straight finals run, especially with young talented teams pushing for attention in the western conference. Time is against the Spurs, which makes the situation that they are in even more desperate. They have been playing like this is their last NBA finals because it very well could be.
This does not mean that the Spurs do not have a future. Kawhi Leonard is one of the most precocious prospects in the NBA, and his experience at 22 years of age sets him apart. If Duncan and Ginóbili did decide to retire, then Kawhi would take a larger leadership role on the team, and could develop into an even bigger impact player. His progress and maturity between last years Finals and this year is breathtaking, and he has a bright future ahead of him.
The future of the Western Conference, however, is frightening. Young teams such as the Thunder, Clippers, Warriors, and Blazers all have tons of potential. The competition for the western conference title will certainly heat up in the coming years, and the future of the NBA has a lot riding on these next couple of games between the Heat and Spurs.
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