The San Antonio Spurs are set to face the Los Angeles Clippers in the second-round of the NBA playoffs as they continue their march towards what will hopefully be title number five for the franchise.
But if San Antonio does claim a fifth title, one cannot forget this string of NBA crowns began in 1999 versus the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals. In that series, the Spurs won in five games (4-1) en route to the franchise’s first of four titles. And winning in five games is quite impressive for any team but not for Tim Duncan.
Duncan, the ever competitive player that he is, still thinks the Spurs could have swept the Knicks in the 1999 Finals and it still irks him even until today.
Sean Elliott, former All-Star forward for the San Antonio Spurs, recently told me that Tim Duncan came up to him earlier this season and said, “You know, I’m still pissed we lost that game in New York.” Elliott had to think for a moment before realizing that Duncan was talking about the 1999 NBA Finals. “But we won that series 4-1,” Elliott said. “Yeah,” Duncan replied, “but it should have been a sweep.”
San Antonio dropped Game 3 in New York (89-81) which prevented the Spurs from sweeping the Knicks and perhaps TD is right. In Games 1 and 2 the Spurs blew out the Knicks (89-77 in Game 1 and 80-67 in Game 2) in what was shaping up as a one-sided series in favor of San Antonio.
But reading TD’s comments on not sweeping New York gives Spurs fans a glimpse into his competitive side. Here is Duncan still thinking about the game that got away which prevented a sweep despite it being 13 years ago. And it is this drive which keeps Duncan still effective despite playing in the NBA for so long.
TD is fueled by pride and a yearning to be the best which has helped the Spurs this season in the regular season and playoffs. And while many NBA players would be just happy to win an NBA title, Duncan still strives for perfection.