“Well, I thought they gave everything,” said Gregg Popovich. “That was a tough Game 6. And I think they showed a lot of poise, a lot of mental toughness to come back today and play as hard as they did I don’t think we played very well, but we played hard. We gave it everything we had. They did a pretty good job of forgetting what we let go in Game 6. So I was really pleased at their approach and their effort.”
“That’s character,” continued Pop. “We’ve got a bunch of guys who aren’t going to give in, keep playing with each other, for each other, and really feel the responsibility to each other. So I expect nothing less, and that’s what I got.”
It never takes a lot for Popovich to be proud of his team, but this team had earned it through the old school, unselfish, blue-collar play that brought them within one win of a fifth championship in five tries.
“For our part, I couldn’t love our guys more,” said Popovich. “What they accomplished this year is something nobody would have ever expected. And they showed a lot of mental toughness and a lot of good play to get where they got. And I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
What comes next is the offseason.
Tim Duncan has no plans to retire.
Tony Parker? He’ll be back.
Manu Ginobili? You’d better believe they’re going to re-sign him, as long as he doesn’t retire. Despite showing signs of wear and tear, Ginobili is part of the heart and soul of this organization.
Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Boris Diaw (player option), Gary Neal (qualifying offer) and Splitter (qualifying offer) will all likely return. Young guards Cory Joseph and Nando de Colo will continue to get better and the Spurs will add a few pieces to their puzzle.
In other words?
Never count the San Antonio Spurs out.
For even when they lose a backbreaking series, they always seem to come back hungrier, more determined to reach the ever elusive dream of earning the title of NBA Champions.
But for now, they’ll have to live with the haunting memories of their Game 6 collapse and Duncan’s missed bunny.
Jeremy Bauman is an aspiring shooting coach and scout who writes columns and blogs for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.