The End of an Era: Why The San Antonio Spurs Will Miss The 2011 Playoffs

Andrew PierluissiCorrespondent IIIJuly 22, 2010

PHOENIX - MAY 05:  Garrett Temple #2 and Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs walk off the court after being defeated by the Phoenix Suns during Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at US Airways Center on May 5, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The team is wearing 'Los Suns' jerseys on Cinco de Mayo in response to an anti-immigration law recently passed in Arizona. The Suns defeated the Spurs 110-102 to take a 2-0 series lead.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Forever in sports history, the San Antonio Spurs of the late 1990’s and 2000’s will rank as one of the best NBA Basketball dynasties of all time.  No question about.  But all great things come to an end.  The Spurs will not go down without a fight, but eventually will be beaten, hang up their gloves,  and call it day.


It has not been the first time the Spurs have faced adversity.  They have been counted out before.  It happened at the start 2008-2009 season, and again in the 2009-2010.  After surprising many experts in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, it will happen again in 2010-2011, but this time it will be different.


At the start of 2008 the Spurs were one year removed from being crowned NBA Champions.  They have lost key championship run players in Robert Horry, Brent Barry, and Beno Udrih, while Bruce Bowen was already indicating his retirement.  Yet, they pulled through a tough regular season and eventually were knocked off by Dallas in the first round.


In 2009, they were once again counted out while losing Bruce Bowen to retirement, and Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili coming off injuries that significantly slowed down their play, while also showing age was catching up to them.  After posting an impressive performance against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, they were ousted 4-0 by Phoenix in the second.  It could have been lack of energy, age, experience, but San Antonio looked like a team ready to call it a decade.


This coming year, the roster did not go through major changes.  They Spurs are about to see a few players walk away and only have Tiago Splitter at center and emerging players George Hill, Blair, Gee, and Hairston as any significant upgrade.  They also have a year older Tim Duncan, and re-signed Manu Ginobili.  Among these players there is no Robert Horry, Brent Barry, or Bruce Bowen. 


The Western Conference will once again be reserved for teams that get close to the 50-win mark.  While the Spurs have the ability to get it done, there are many “ifs” that can prevent this from happening.  They will need a healthy Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, a refreshed Tony Parker, a more experienced George Hill, and a rejuvenated Richard Jefferson, and an NBA ready Tiago Splitter, not to mention a steadily improving bench.


The truth is that too many players on that list are a few years away from reaching their potential.  And in two or three years, there will be no Tim Duncan, and possibly no prime Manu Ginobili.  We might even see Tony Parker in another uniform with the amount of rumors going around regarding his future.


The Spurs have all the pieces they need to build for the future.  Jefferson is still young, and their group of young players like Hill, Blair, Splitter, Gee, and others have enough upside to make the Spurs contenders in the near future.  But their generation gap with Duncan and Ginobili will not match up.

The Spurs youngsters have a chance of a lifetime to spend the next 2 years next to one of the best power forward and intelligent players to ever play the game, and a shooting guard proven among the best in the NBA and internationally.  They will also be coached by one of the best coaches in NBA history.


The Spurs will give it a shot this year and a chance for their players to show what they’ve got.  Ultimately, it won’t be enough and they will miss the 2011 NBA Playoffs.


Spurs fans, this is not a time to fear.  Some dark years will come, but the Spurs will regain their form soon enough with fresh faces and young talent.


I understand many fans will disagree and feel quiet discouraged.  Let me know your take on this commenting below.  Feedback is appreciated and discussions are encouraged.