RoF: How would you describe the Spurs' basketball style? Is there a dramatic analogy that makes sense to describe what they do on the floor?
Michael De Leon: I hate to overuse this but substance over style says it all perfectly. They may as well be wearing business suits instead of jerseys and shorts, and carry briefcases instead of basketballs because they are all about business. The goal is very clear and anything short of that seems like a failure. It may not be very entertaining for some NBA fans and I'm ok with that because I'm a fan of the sport more than I am a fan of the league, so I can appreciate that a team that lacks athleticism and youth for the most part can get it done year after year in a time where making the SportsCenter Top 10 seems more important than winning games.
Discuss: Roger Mason, Jr., is an unconscious gunner who knows his role and fits in perfectly on this team.
For about the last three years, the team I paid most attention to aside from the Spurs were the Wizards, since I've always been an Antonio Daniels fan. I got to see a lot of Roger Mason and I always thought that he might make a name for himself in this league if he went to a team that gave him minutes and the go-ahead to shoot. I began to talk him up a bit in our podcast after I heard the Spurs were interested last year and I was glad when they signed him. The Spurs have always had 3-pt shooters, but they've almost always been spot-up shooters (Kerr, Kersey, Ferry, Jackson, Turkoglu, Bowen, Finley, Bonner etc...) What I liked about Roger was that he could handle the ball at the point and that he could shoot, even beyond the arc, off the dribble. I thought that could be very valuable to a team whose offense was very predictable when Manu went to the bench. I also like that, as you said, he's an unconscious shooter. He'll keep taking the shot no matter how many he's missed and that fits perfectly with the Spurs. As I'm sure past Spurs players will tell you, the minute you start getting hesitant about shooting is the minute you get pulled out and get an earful from Pop.
I maintain that Emeka Okafor is an ideal Greg Popovich player, in the sense that he's very talented, but does not take anything for granted. How would you describe the Spurs' roster building strategy? What are the primary attributes of the guys they've gathered to surround their big three?
The one thing I've noticed above all about the players Pop and R.C bring in is that they are quality people. They may not always be the most talented, youngest or most athletic but they are pretty good people and they are coachable. It really starts with Peter Holt, though. I've heard that he has not agreed to certain trades or acquisitions in the past because he was afraid it would ruin the Spurs' chemistry. They also always seem to find players whose roles and personalities fit in with the team.
I don't think it's really controversial to say Tim Duncan will go down as one of the ten best players the NBA has ever seen. As someone who's seen him play more than most other people, what details of his game do you enjoy most?
I just love seeing him go out there and go to work, especially against the league's best bigs. I'll be honest though, Duncan is very underappreciated, even in San Antonio where Manu and Tony seem to be the fan favorites, but it's all because we take what he does for granted. We know he's gonna go out there and get 20 and 12 a game, but even when he scores 30, we aren't surprised because it's Duncan. When Tony Parker scores 30+ though, everyone takes notice. He's one of those guys that I think will be appreciated a lot more after he stops playing. One of our readers and listeners emailed me a few years back pointing out that we don't give Duncan enough credit. Ever since then, I've begun to take more notice and I really enjoy watching him now more than ever. Even though I list Manu as my favorite player, I don't think anything is better fgor me than watching Duncan and Garnett go head to head.
Which band or other musical outfit has a catalog that most represents what the city of San Antonio is all about?
Wow, good question and one I can say I've truly never thought about. I'm gonna say maybe Jimmy Buffet because the song Margaritaville comes to mind. San Antonio is Margaritaville. We're all about the party and sometimes I think we live at a more relaxed pace than the rest of the world. My Spurcast co-host lis from San Antonio but now lives in New York. I just recently went up there to visit him and even though I've said that I wouldn't mind living there, I really love Texas and especially San Antonio. I really enjoy the pace and the people.
Thanks to Michael De Leon of Project Spurs for his insights into what makes the Spurs tick. For more on the Spurs side of things, you might check out SB Nation's own Pounding the Rock, or 48 Minutes of Hell.