Have you ever wondered what the outcome would be if we could bring back the Championship Spurs team of '99 and have them square-off with our current squad? David versus Current TD, Sean Elliot versus Manu Ginobili, and Avery Johnson taking on Tony Parker. Well, in my mind, I had these two great teams duke it out in a finals match for the ages; your '99 Spurs versus your '09 Spurs. The '99 Spurs had home-court advantage and split their first two games. They recovered in Game 3 to regain their home-court advantage before losing Game 4 to the '09 squad. In Game 5, the '99 team came out on fire and never looked back, routing the '09 team by 23 points. Now, let me recap their pivotal Game 6 match-up, with the '99 team leading the series 3-2. To differentiate between the two Tim Duncans, I will use “Young TD” for the '99 team and “Current TD” for '09. Similarly, I will use Coach "Clean Shaven" Popovich for '99 and Coach "Grizzly Beard" Popovich for '09.
The '09 team spoke confidently after their recent loss but one could sense the doubt creeping into their psyche. It was important for the '09 team to come out strong to eliminate any thoughts that Game 6 would resemble Game 5. The '09ers made a last minute change to their starting lineup, as has become a staple of Coach "Grizzly Beard" Popovich's playoff rotations. Manu Ginobili replaced Roger Mason Jr. to join Tony Parker, Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess and Current TD in the starting lineup. The '99 squad stayed with their starting five of Avery Johnson, Mario Ellie, Sean Elliott, Young TD, and David Robinson.
As promised, the '09 team came out with something to prove. They went to Current TD early and often as he pulled Robinson away from the basket and used his quickness to attack the rim. Coach "Clean Shaven" Popovich quickly called a timeout after Current TD scored the games first two baskets, and clearly sent the message to his team to double Current TD on the entry pass. This freed up Richard Jefferson for a corner three and the next possession Ginobili connected with another to force Coach "Clean Shaven" Popovich to call his second early timeout. With his team down 10-3, Coach "Clean Shaven" Popovich drew up a play to take advantage of the McDyess, Young TD match-up. Young TD responded with a three point play that seemed to lift his team's spirits. The game was now officially on.
The teams would trade baskets for the rest of the quarter. Sean Elliott had a big first quarter hitting 2 three point baskets and scoring 10 points. Antonio McDyess took advantage of Young TD by knocking down several outside shots. But the biggest story early on was Tony Parker. Parker shredded Avery Johnson using his quickness to get past Johnson seemingly at will. Parker scored 6 points and had 3 assists in the first quarter. At the end of one, the '09 squad led the '99ers, 27-25.
Early in the second quarter, lead official Joey Crawford called a questionable blocking foul on Antonio McDyess. Coach "Grizzly Beard" Popovich responded and was quickly assessed a technical foul. It was widely reported that neither team's coach was pleased that Joey Crawford would be officiating. Before the game, Coach "Grizzly Beard" Popovich was quoted as saying, "I just cannot wrap my mind around the thought-process that leads someone to assign Joey Crawford to this pivotal game. Given his history with both teams, I just do not understand it. Maybe since he has a bias against both teams, they think it will even out for a fairly called game? I just don't see it."
With the second units in the game, it quickly became the Mason Jr. versus Jaren Jackson show. These two combined to make 6 three pointers in the first five minutes of the quarter. Another battle also ensued, but this one under the basket. Malik Rose and DeJuan Blair fought with a passion rarely seen over every available rebound. Rookie DeJuan Blair held his own against the hustling Malik Rose as both players had secured four rebounds when they went to the bench with five minutes remaining in the half.
Held to only two points thus far, Manu Ginobili left his imprint on the final five minutes of the half. Although Elliott did his best to stay in front, Ginobili used a number of high screens to free himself and scored 8 quick points to give the '09ers the lead with two minutes remaining, 46-38. Coach "Clean Shaven" Popovich felt the game slipping away and called a timeout to stop the action. In an animated speech highlighted by language I cannot repeat, Coach "Clean Shaven" Popovich reminded his team what rested on this game. "This is to prove we are the best f***ing team that San Antonio has ever put on the floor and you guys are going through the G**D*** motions!"
The '99 Spurs took Pop's words to heart and executed perfectly down the stretch. They went on a 10-2 run to close out the period, which was punctuated by David Robinson's monstrous slam over Antonio McDyess. As they headed into the locker room, the score was tied at 48.
The second half served to prove just how close in talent these two teams are. The lead shifted back and forth with neither team willing to give the other an inch. Tony led the '09ers as he continued to take advantage of Avery Johnson. On the other end, Young TD and David Robinson took turns dominating the undersized Antonio McDyess. Richard Jefferson made his mark from beyond the arc as he caught fire and hit 3 threes in a row. Heading into the fourth, the '99 squad led 77-75.
The teams continued to trade blows in the fourth like the two heavy-weight fighters they are. With less than two minutes remaining, Sean Elliott hit a rainbow three over the outstretched arms of Current TD that brought back memories of the Memorial Day Miracle to all who watched. Down by three points, Tony split a double-team at the top of the key, drove to the basket, and made an unbelievable reverse lay-up to avoid The Admiral's shot block attempt. Leading 96-95 with 1:04 remaining, the ’99 squad called a timeout to set up a play.
Mario Ellie inbounded the ball to Avery Johnson in the middle of the court. Johnson waited for a pick from David Robinson, saw Tony Parker cheating to the left, and drove right. Manu Ginobili left Mario Ellie to help out on Johnson. Avery skipped the ball into the corner where Mario Ellie caught it in stride and hit a three. Ellie gave his classic fist pump with a roar as he headed down the court and the '99 crowd exploded.
Down by 99-95 with 48 seconds remaining, Coach "Grizzly Beard" Popovich chose not to call a timeout. Instead he motioned a play to Parker who jogged the ball up the court. Parker took the ball right while Current TD positioned for a pick and roll. Coach "Clean Shaven" Pop screamed, "Misdirection," but it was too late. A double screen was set for Manu as he flared to the left corner. The pass from Parker was on the mark and Manu hit a three as the '99 crowd fell silent.
Coach "Clean Shaven" Popovich called a timeout with 33 seconds left to advance the ball. Avery Johnson received the inbounds pass and began to run the clock down. He passed to ball to Elliott at the elbow where he held the ball. With 17 seconds remaining, Elliott passed the ball down-low to Robinson who was 15 feet away from the basket. He faked, attempted to drive but was deterred by Antonio McDyess. He settled for a fade-away that went in and out; Current TD secured the rebound and called a timeout.
Down by 1 with 10 seconds, Ginobili inbounded the ball to Parker on the right side of the court. Parker immediately handed the ball off to Manu who drove the ball left, using a Tim Duncan screen. Robinson followed Ginobili in an attempt to trap him with Elliott. 7, 6…. Rather than cut to the basket, Duncan flared to the three point line to create a passing angle for Ginobili. 5, 4.... Ginobili passed him the ball. 3, 2.... Tim caught it behind the three point line, stared at the basket, and let it fly. 1... Nothing but net at the buzzer! Duncan streaked down the court to his bench and celebrated with his elated team. The sun had set for the '99 champs.
Game 6 went to the '09 squad, extending the series to a deciding Game 7. How will Game 7 turn out? My feeling is that you should decide. Vote on the poll to the right to let your voice be heard as to which team will take Game 7. Regardless, it should be a nail-biter.
At the 2:56 mark of the first quarter, Current TD blinked on his way to the bench as he walked past Joey Crawford. Crawford noticed this and when Duncan later sneezed, he hit him with a technical foul. The League has promised to give Crawford a slap on the wrist but insists he will be officiating every crucial game the Spurs play in the near future. …This game marks the 150th time that Coach “Grizzly Beard” Popovich has worn the same ugly suit. …Ian Mahinmi made history by being called for a foul after time had expired when he clumsily fell into Current TD during the celebration. …
1999 SAN ANTONIO SPURS
|Mario Ellie, SG||28||3/4||2/2||1/2||0||1||1||3||0||0||1||1||9|
|David Robinson, C||35||7/14||0-0||6/8||1||10||11||2||0||2||1||3||20|
|Tim Duncan, PF||43||9/15||0-0||5/8||1||9||10||6||0||1||2||4||23|
|Sean Elliott, SG||33||5/10||2/3||1/2||2||2||4||2||0||0||0||3||13|
|Avery Johnson, PG||36||5/12||0-0||1/2||0||4||4||5||2||0||4||3||11|
|Jaren Jackson, SF||19||5/5||3/3||0-1||0||3||3||2||1||1||0||2||13|
|Malik Rose, PF||14||1/3||0-0||2/2||2||2||5||1||1||0||2||5||4|
|Jerome Kersey, PF||7||0-0||0-0||0-0||2||2||4||0||0||0||1||3||0|
|Antonio Daniels, PG||13||1/4||0-1||1/1||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||0||3|
|Steve Kerr, SG||8||1/2||1/2||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3|
|Will Perdue, C||4||0-2||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Gerald King, PF||0||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|52.11%||72.73%||65.38%||Team TO (pts off): 11 (10)|
2009 SAN ANTONIO SPURS
|Richard Jefferson, SG||28||5/9||3/4||1/2||0||1||1||3||0||0||1||1||12|
|Tim Duncan, C||35||7/14||0-0||6/8||1||10||11||7||0||2||1||2||18|
|Antonio McDyess, PF||30||3/5||0-0||0-0||2||7||9||2||0||0||2||2||6|
|Manu Ginobili, SG||33||8/15||2/2||1/2||2||2||4||4||2||0||0||3||15|
|Tony Parker, PG||34||10/16||0-0||5/6||0||4||4||8||1||0||4||3||25|
|Roger Mason Jr., SF||21||5/9||4/5||0-1||0||3||3||2||1||1||0||2||14|
|Dejuan Blair, C||14||1/2||0-0||2/3||3||4||7||1||0||0||1||4||4|
|Michael Finley, SF||18||1/4||0-0||0-0||2||7||9||2||0||0||1||3||2|
|Matt Bonner, PF||13||1/4||0-2||0-0||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||0||2|
|George Hill, PG||8||1/2||0-1||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||2|
|Malik Hairston, SG||6||0-1||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Ian Mahinmi, C||0||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|51.85%||64.29%||68.18%||Team TO (pts off): 11 (14)|