Championship or bust

Even in the down years when the Spurs were not competing for a title, for almost 20 years the San Antonio Spurs have been synonymous with excellence, class, and culture. Whether it was the twin towers of "The Admiral" David Robinson and his partner in crime, Tim Duncan, the addition of Frenchman Tony Parker, and Argentinian Manu Ginobili to compliment Tim Duncan in his prime, or the addition of Kawhi Leonard to take the pressure off of the aging big three, through each of their stages, incarnations, and roster changes, the Spurs have been the model franchise in the NBA for a very long time.

With their recent playoff exit at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder by a loss margin of two wins to four losses, this unexpected departure brings with it even more unexpected results in terms of the uncertainty over the pending retirement of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. For each of the last 5+ NBA seasons, the questions over retirement and the Spurs' championship window closing have been constantly looming, and each time, the Spurs have managed to come back stronger by adding quality talent, improving from within, and altogether silencing haters and doubters alike.

That said, there's no pulling one over on father time, and many fans of the sport in general are wondering if this is the end of the line for the Spurs former "big three." Even after putting together a franchise-best 67 win season, it clearly wasn't enough to make it back to the NBA finals.

Legacy, culture, and sustained excellence

Whether you love them or hate them, one cannot deny the impact that the Spurs organization has had -- not only on the NBA but on the game as a whole.

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Whether or not they manage to acquire any top free agents in the upcoming pool, the fact remains that everyone wants to play for them, with many players taking a significant pay cut just to get the chance to suit up in San Antonio. The Golden State Warriors (who are currently on top of the NBA world) are very much steeped in the Spurs' philosophy and molded in their image, with current Warriors coach Steve Kerr having played under Coach Pop.

Ultimately, even more than all the accolades, trophies, individual, and collective honors, the one thing that comes to mind when thinking of the organization is consistency. They have a level of sustained excellence that's unrivaled in the modern-day game, and they've given themselves a chance to win year in and year out. Even with this recent loss, they've still got Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge in their prime, and even if the former big three ride off into retirement, the Spurs system is greater than the sum of its parts, and it's the one thing that remains constant no matter who puts on the uniform.

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