The Scoop:Hibbert was hoping that Duncan would share some tips about how the Spurs move the ball, but we're guessing Timmy probably told him they don't make headlines for the wrong reasons, don't fight with each other, and do whatever Gregg Popovich tells them to do. If Duncan answered the text at all.
Throughout his career, San Antonio Spurs big man Tim Duncan has been seen as the superstar who isn't very interested in being a media fixture, preferring to excel on the court and to appear in the occasional local ad . Many have praised Duncan's supposedly all-business approach, while others have criticized him (and the Spurs as a whole) for having little interest in promoting a league that has allowed him to earn more than $220 million over his 17-year career. Yet both sides seem to agree that Duncan would rather keep out of the limelight, perhaps so he can stay at home and paint Warhammer 40K figurines. But Duncan does have his passions, and sometimes he allows them to enter the public eye. Soon, the Big Fundamental will combine two of his biggest loves — comic books and customized cars. In a post to the Facebook page of BlackJack Speed Shop, the customization shop Duncan owns in San Antonio, it was revealed that the future Hall of Famer would appear in an upcoming comic with "The Punisher," the 40-year-old Marvel Comics character. Take a look at the announcement and the accompanying photo (via PBT ):
It's not surprising to hear Mario Chalmers tell Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick , "We all just took too much of a back seat in the Finals," since the San Antonio Spurs undressed everyone not named LeBron James and Chris Bosh in their five-game dismantling of the Miami Heat this past June. But the mercurial point guard's reflection on a failed three-peat offers words of warning for the Cleveland Cavaliers: Dynasties aren't easily built and even harder to maintain. Only Scottie Pippen remained on the roster from the first edition of the championship Chicago Bulls when Michael Jordan began his pursuit of a second three-peat in 1995. It was an even lonelier road for Kobe Bryant in the seven seasons between Lakers titles last decade. A leading man can carry a production so far, but the show won't go on without an adequate supporting cast, and NBA bit players only take a backseat for so long before seeking bigger roles and paychecks. Taking the analogy a step further, the occasional Alan Arkin or Jared Leto accepts a smaller part for redemption or to stave off retirement, but they seek the spotlight again or aren't long for the stage. Where were we? Ah, yes, Mario Chalmers, a disastrous NBA Finals performance and the mental makeup of a role player living in the shadow of one of the game's brightest stars. "You know, for the first time in my career, I felt like I wasn't ... yeah, my confidence wasn't there," Chalmers said. "Going through that whole San Antonio series, I just felt like in the playoffs I kept getting worse and worse every round. I just couldn't figure it out. ... "Yeah, that's the worst thing, because you never know," Chalmers said. "Everybody in my ear, talking about, 'We need you, we need you to do this, we need you to do that.' And then when it comes to the game, I didn't feel involved. Like, you all talk about how y'all need me, but y'all didn't put me in position to do anything. In previous years, if I was in that position, I would make sure I would go get the ball, I would put myself in position to score. I felt like this year, we all just took too much of a back seat in the Finals. ... "I feel like I've finally got a chance to shine, show my real game," Chalmers said. "Me, CB, D-Wade and the rest of the guys, we're going to pick it up, we're still going to play Miami Heat basketball, and we're still gonna be a competitor." It's a delicate balance between a bit player knowing his role and feeding an inflated sense of self that helped him get a job only a miniscule percentage of people in his profession ever attain. Chalmers has twice declared himself a top-10 NBA point guard, and that kind of ego requires some stroking. This is the road LeBron faces now in Cleveland, the same one he had to pave in Miami before quieting the Thunder for the first of two straight championships. Finding a court comfortable kneeling at the throne of King James isn't easy, but the maturation of Chalmers and the addition of ultimate character actor Shane Battier helped the 2012 Heat dispose of the Celtics in seven games and Oklahoma City in five. Consummate professional Ray Allen helped the sequel prove better than the original, as Miami rattled off 27 straight regular-season victories before surviving the upstart Indiana Pacers and always game Spurs in 2013. But the Heat couldn't pull off the trilogy in 2014, because — if Chalmers is to be believed — the franchise relied too heavily upon its stars. The same thing happened with "The Godfather," I think. San Antonio casts supporting roles best, surrounding Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili with an ever-evolving roster of players willing to fill roles until they aren't. (I see you, Stephen Jackson.) But the Spurs model isn't one easily replicated, so LeBron is taking a different road, trading in a supporting cast that failed him in Miami this past season for one that seems more promising in Cleveland. But that doesn't mean these Cavaliers are ready for the spotlight. The road to sustained Eastern Conference supremacy has long required dethroning a worthy predecessor. The 1980s Celtics gave way to the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons, the Pistons to Jordan's Bulls, and so on until the Celtics seized control from the Pistons in the late 2000s and LeBron's Heat staved off Kevin Garnett & Co. in 2012. Only the Cavs won't have that battle-tested champion standing in their way ( except in the eyes of one Almario Chalmers ), and the lack of a worthy adversary — save for perhaps the Bulls — may make unseating the Spurs, Thunder or whoever else emerges from the wild West an even more difficult task. LeBron can get them to the Finals, but how players like Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters perform in their supporting roles will ultimately determine whether they're championship worthy. In the meantime, new Cavs coach David Blatt will have his hands full keeping everyone happy on the set. Just ask Rio. (h/t @talkhoops )