Friday , Jun , 15 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

San Antonio’s dynasty bred by Duncan, embraced by Parker

Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) – Dave Odom had the basketball intuition
that he was sending a special player to the pros.

Just like Michigan State’s Judd Heathcote with Magic Johnson, Indiana State’s
Bob King with Larry Bird and North Carolina’s Dean Smith with Michael Jordan.

Ten years since holding the honor of top pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, Tim
Duncan hasn’t just had a special professional career verifying Odom’s
collegiate teachings at Wake Forest.

It’s been legendary, joining the three aforementioned stars in a chronology
of championship lure. Bird’s Celtics won three championships, Johnson’s Lakers
took home five titles and Jordan’s Bulls converted two separate three-peats.

With Thursday’s 83-82 victory capping a four-game sweep of Cleveland, Duncan
now fits comfortably between Bird and Magic, lofty company for a player so
quiet as an individual marketer, so loud as a team leader.

San Antonio’s championship dynasty — and yes, becoming just the fourth
franchise including the three mentioned above to hoist at least four titles
does put it in that category — began with the good fortunes of a lottery.

The prize? Duncan for life. Or at least a career that includes individual
awards running the gambit from top rookie honors to a pair of league MVP
awards and three NBA Finals MVP trophies, one for each of San Antonio’s prior
titles (1999, 2003, 2005).

“Each championship has a personality of its own,” Spurs head coach Gregg
Popovich said. “There are different people, but watching Tim Duncan be a
common thread in that (the four titles) is amazing.”

As Duncan climbs to the cusp of an athlete’s proverbial wall, hitting 31 years
of age this past April 25th, it is only fitting he passes the NBA Finals MVP
trophy to his star point guard Tony Parker.

When Duncan began winning “these” things, Parker was an intriguing prospect
playing professionally in France. He wasn’t yet discovered by the NBA, the
Spurs or Eva Longoria.

Always standing just behind Duncan’s large shadow, Parker finally came out and
took control when the big man struggled during stretches of Game 3 and 4.

Duncan didn’t score during the middle two periods of Game 3, a stint that
may have buried the Spurs if Parker was comfortable in the background.

Instead, the assertive point guard attacked the basket, finishing with a team-
high 17 points in San Antonio’s 75-72 victory.

“We talked about it (Parker’s assertive play) immediately standing on the
stage,” said Popovich. “I reminded him that when he had his first workout we
told him he wasn’t tough enough and told him to go home. When we were on the
stage I reminded him of that and we had a good laugh about it.”

Parker steadied the ship in Game 3, sailing it to victory in Game 2 and the
decisive Game 4. He scored 30 points on 13-of-20 shooting in Game 2 and even
led the team in scoring with 27 points in Game 1.

Those large point totals are a far cry from his 2001 rookie campaign, when he
averaged 9.2 points after being selected with the 28th pick in the draft. His
role increased the next season, playing in all 82 games and averaging 15.5
points and 5.3 assists per contest.

“I told Pop I wanted to be the point guard for the team and I worked hard to
become a good player,” said Parker. “I have a lot of confidence in myself and
I worked hard to get where I’m at.”

His comfort with the NBA game and his role with the club continued to blossom,
leading to career highs in points (16.6), assists (6.1) and rebounds (3.7)
during San Antonio’s 2005 championship run.

Yet, to pundits and fans, the team was still solely Duncan’s, taking the
collective persona of their star with small egos and large team fundamentals.

Until now, when Parker moved to Duncan’s side.

A new team infrastructure resulted in something familiar, the fourth
championship in nine years for Duncan and the Spurs.

He has Parker to thank. Well, him and Odom, the coach who began the process of
shaping Duncan’s career, and in some small way, San Antonio’s dynasty.