It has been nearly four years since LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony vacationed together and forever became known as the “Banana Boat Boys,” but the legend lives on thanks to the San Antonio Spurs.
Boris Diaw shared a hilarious photo on social media on Friday that shows him, Spurs guard Patty Mills and fellow former San Antonio players Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter taking part in some exciting aquatic action. The crew was riding on an inflatable hot dog, and Diaw referred to them as the “Weiner Boat Boys.”
— Boris Diaw (@theborisdiaw) May 17, 2019
Nothing will ever top the original, but the Spurs version is still pretty great. Perhaps the two crews will get together for a showdown next summer.
Gregg Popovich is a five-time NBA champion and one of the greatest coaches in basketball history, but his passion for the sport is rivaled by his love for wining and dining. While Popovich’s incredible basketball IQ and leadership qualities have allowed him to draft, sign and develop some great players over the years, it was his affinity for wine and a good dinner that helped him land Manu Ginobili.
ESPN’s Baxter Holmes published a fantastic feature this week that examines Popovich’s borderline obsession with wine and fine dining. Several players explained to Holmes how Popovich uses the culinary world to bring his teams closer together, and the three-time NBA Coach of the Year said his passion for hosting a good gathering led him to Ginobili many years ago.
Steve McHugh, the owner and chef at upscale restaurant Cured in San Antonio, once asked Popovich why he was going through so much trouble to select what he felt were the perfect appetizers and wines for a dinner he hosted with Spanish basketball officials back in 2015. Popovich said most NBA teams will pass off such obligations to assistant coaches or front office executives, but he explained how hosting a contingent from Argentina in similar fashion years prior landed him one of the most important players in Spurs franchise history.
“I blew ’em away, and we wined ’em, we dined ’em. We gave them photo ops. We gave ’em everything they wanted,” Popovich recalled. “That’s how we found out about Manu, when nobody else knew about him.”
Popovich has been known to do the same for his players, even after brutal losses.
“I was friends with every single teammate I ever had in my [time] with the Spurs. That might sound far-fetched, but it’s true,” one former Spurs player told Holmes. “And those team meals were one of the biggest reasons why. To take the time to slow down and truly dine with someone in this day and age — I’m talking a two- or three-hour dinner — you naturally connect on a different level than just on the court or in the locker room.”
While many of us only know the Pop who treats sideline reporters like he’d rather be getting a root canal than chatting with them for 30 seconds, his players and confidants know the other side to him. In many ways, Popovich’s passion for wine sounds like it has helped his career as much as his dedication to the game of basketball.
The San Antonio Spurs have been good for a very, very long time under future Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich, but one stat may highlight their incredible run over the past 20 years better than any other.
The Spurs won their 42nd game of the year against the Golden State Warriors on Monday night, which means they are guaranteed to have yet another winning season. They have barely ever been below .500 since just after Popovich took over the team, and no other team even comes remotely close in that department.
Okay that’s a pretty astounding stat pic.twitter.com/h1xMmRQohy
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) March 19, 2019
That’s right, there have been just over two months total that the Spurs have featured a losing record in the past 20-plus years. The next closest is the Houston Rockets, and they are a distant, distant, distant second.
As you might expect, the Spurs have not missed the postseason since that time. Despite the significant changes they have gone through with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili retiring and Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker leaving, they are once again playoff bound this year and are currently the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference.
Popovich may rub people the wrong with the way he treats the media, but there’s no debating he is one of the best coaches in NBA — and all of sports — history. In terms of championships and sustained success, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are the only other franchise that compares.
- San Antonio Spurs
Pau Gasol remained with the San Antonio Spurs through the NBA trade deadline last week, and the veteran big man insists any talk of that not being the preferred outcome for him is inaccurate.
A recent report from ESPN Deportes claimed Gasol asked the Spurs to trade him, but the team could not work out a deal. Gasol ripped that report while speaking with the media on Tuesday.
“What’s the source? What’s the validity of that story? I don’t know,” Gasol said, per ESPN’s Michael C. Wright. “I didn’t request to be traded. I don’t want to comment on it because it is what it is.”
However, Gasol did hint that he has been unhappy with his role in San Antonio this season.
“I think people understand or can figure out my situation on the team is not what was expected from me, and my only wish and desire is to be able to contribute to the team, and be able to be on the floor and do what I’m supposed to do, and do what I signed here to do, and kind of live up to what I’m paid for,” he said. “That’s all. I’m waiting and hoping that that will happen. I’m staying positive. But don’t believe everything that is out there.”
Gasol admitted that people probably believed the report because it “makes sense,” so perhaps it was understood that the two sides would explore options to part ways. That doesn’t mean Gasol went to management and asked for a trade, but it sure sounds like he would not have been opposed to one.
Now in his 18th NBA season, Gasol’s numbers have fallen off a cliff. He has posted career lows basically across the board and is averaging just 4.4 points in 12.5 minutes per game. Although he’s 38, Gasol feels he can contribute more than the Spurs have allowed him to. Between the lack of production, a foot injury that resulted in him missing 26 games, and the bicycle accident he had over the summer, Gasol has faced some adversity in recent months.
A game between the San Antonio Spurs and Brooklyn Nets was delayed due to some flying creatures in the arena.
During Thursday’s game between the two teams, bats began flying around AT&T Center, which caused the game to be temporarily delayed until they could be brought under control.
Nets-Spurs has been stalled due to a BAT problem. Nets security isn’t trained for this one… pic.twitter.com/1MoNmyOwIb
— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) February 1, 2019
Here comes Batman!
(This game might be canceled) pic.twitter.com/yd1Jq0hw5r
— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) February 1, 2019
While the bats flew around, fans chanted for Manu Ginobili, who once famously swatted a bat out of mid air during a game.
Spurs fans chanted "Manu" while bats flew around the court pic.twitter.com/YTDCqwx4Vo
— ESPN (@espn) February 1, 2019
If only Ginobili hadn’t retired.
Kristaps Porzingis reportedly met with the New York Knicks on Thursday and left them with the impression that he wants to be traded, and there will be no shortage of teams interested in the former first-round pick.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski lists at least five teams that are expected to reach out to the Knicks about Porzingis prior to next Thursday’s trade deadline.
The Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors are among many teams expected to pursue Kristaps Porzingis in a trade, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 31, 2019
Wojnarowski’s colleague Zach Lowe added that the Spurs should be watched closely.
Keep an extra eye on San Antonio https://t.co/AU85kCb8Yh
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) January 31, 2019
The Spurs are 30-22 and currently the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. DeMar DeRozan has looked like a great fit with the team, and Gregg Popovich has no reason to feel that San Antonio can’t contend now that Kawhi Leonard is gone.
Porzingis has not played this season as he recovers from a torn ACL, but teams are apparently not concerned about him coming back full strength. The 23-year-old was averaging 22.7 points per game last year before he went down with the knee injury roughly halfway through the season.
The Clippers are 28-23 and have been a surprise in the West this year. They are reportedly planning to go all-out to land at least one star player this offseason, and acquiring Porzingis might help them accomplish that goal. The Heat, Raptors and Nets are also all currently in the playoff hunt, so it makes sense that they are looking to improve at the deadline.
DeMar DeRozan is the star of the show in San Antonio now that the Spurs have traded Kawhi Leonard, and he embraced the role by scoring a game-high 28 points in his team’s season opening win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. And now, there’s not a DeRozan jersey to be found.
How quickly did DeRozan’s new jerseys sell out in San Antonio? Let’s just say even he couldn’t get one for his own mother.
DeMar DeRozan discovered the downside of SA fans embracing him so quickly. “I tried to buy my mom a jersey last week and they were sold out. She didn’t believe me.”
— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) October 18, 2018
We’re guessing the Spurs can make some sort of special arrangements for DeMar’s mom, but that gives you an idea of how loyal fans are in San Antonio. Rather than jumping ship with guys like Leonard, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili gone, they’re throwing their support behind their new leader.
Some remarks Spurs coach Gregg Popovich made before the season indicate he already has a great relationship with DeRozan. If DeMar keeps playing the way he did in the opener, the fans will be just as fond of him.