In late August, I wrote a feature about a band of former Spurs big men that formed the Bruise Brothers while they played in San Antonio under Stan Albeck.
As I said then, the Spurs were always known to be like the current Phoenix Suns, a high-scoring, up-tempo team. That is until the the Bruise Brothers came along.
Since then, the Spurs have had some great bigs, most notably Artis Gilmore, David Robinson and Tim Duncan.
But this year’s Spurs team is probably the closest to resemble the original Bruise Brothers. The major difference is that this new version of the Bruise Brother is made up of four players, not six.
In trying to compare both groups, there really was no member that could stand up to Tim Duncan. You could say he is similar to Mark Olberding because Olberding spent most of his career here, but when looking purely at statistics, none of the original Bruise Brothers compare in their primes to Duncan.
Duncan has been a double-double machine throughout his NBA career. Even this season, when a lot of critics said Duncan was washed up, he is averaging 19 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game.
So while Duncan may not have the tough exterior that some of the Bruise Brothers had, ask his opponents how they feel after going 48 minutes with him.
McDyess is the Paul Griffin of this group. Griffin was known as an undersized big man, who was known for mixing it up inside, rebounding and getting hustle points. The biggest difference, at least so far is that McDyess is a starter and does not come off the bench.
McDyess is also an undersized 6-9 at center, but that doesn’t stop him from guarding some of the league’s best bigs on a nightly basis. While he’s averaged 6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, he’s also only averaging 21 minutes per game and it’s also important to note that McDyess is one of seven new players on this year’s Spurs roster.
His biggest game of the year came against Houston. McDyess totaled 15 points, 14 rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot, very Bruise Brothers-esque numbers.
When I started looking through the original Bruise Brothers and I came across George “Mr. Swat” Johnson, I knew exactly which current Spur fit that role. Ratliff has made a career out of obliterating shot attempts.
The eldest of Bruise Brothers 2.0 is in his 15th NBA season, but he’s put his stamp on more than a few games this season.
While his per game block average is at 1.2 a game, he’s done much more than that in games where he averages more than 10 minutes. In 25 minutes against Sacramento on October 31, he swatted four shots. Then in consecutive games against the Jazz and Wizards, he had three blocks, even in a game where he played just 13 minutes. Is it any wonder why some Spurs fans are wondering how Ratliff would fare starting at center.
In 1980, the Spurs drafted Reggie Johnson out of Tennessee. In just 20 minutes per game, he managed to average 10.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. 29 years later, the Spurs drafted DeJaun Blair. If there is any Spur that lives up to the Bruise Brothers’ image, it’s Blair.
Blair is a blue-collar, hard working power forward, and even at 6-6, he is known to out-rebound much bigger players. On the offensive end, ask Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace about defending him recently. Blair is only averaging 15 minutes a game this season, but manages to contribute even when played sparingly.
While this current group may not quite yet match up to the original group’s defensive stats, I’m sure it’ll only be a matter of time until we start seeing this team like we saw the original group, sans fedoras and black ties.
Leave us your thoughts on the new Bruise Brothers 2.0