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One of the most important things to do when you’re in a tight spot is get out fast. The same idea applies to anticipated punishment. Get it over with.

The Spurs punished the Blazers in the first of their seven game series and it couldn’t end fast enough. No one watching the first quarter wanted Coach Stotts to throw in the towel, but would it have made any difference in the end?

The Spurs punished the Blazers, who in turn punished their fans with their own slow motion.

Instead of the old, over the hill yet wildly international Spurs, dragging up and down the court, it was the Blazers who looked tired. And confused.

Robin Lopez couldn’t decide between defending Tony Parker or Tim Duncan and it didn’t matter. Choose Parker and Duncan scored on the roll. Choose Duncan and Parker popped from fifteen feet. You still need to pick one or the other.

Didn’t San Antonio get the memo about shot selection? It’s shooting threes and hammering down slams, not hitting the mid-range jumper. Tony, Timmy, the mid-range shot is dead. You won’t get on Sports Center with that. You win games, but is that what it’s really all about in the modern NBA?

James Hardin gets it. Catch, give a few beard fakes, fire up the long ball. Dwight Howard gets it. Smile a lot, drive elbows into opponents, and pretend nothing phases you. Lose and go home. Who doesn’t get it? The robotic Tim Duncan.

He was done two years ago when he had a chance to bow out gracefully. Age and injury paved the same road it did for guys like Shaquille O’Neal. Leave the team you won titles with, head for a re-hab stint with Phoenix like Grant Hill, and sail off into a new life.

The sun was setting, the car warmed up, but Duncan didn’t get in. Instead, he got into last years finals and nearly beat the Miami Heat dynasty. Now he makes the Blazers suffer.

Duncan didn’t get the MVP this year. Kevin Durant picked that up. But if there was an award for keeping your eyes as wide open as possible, Tim Duncan would win it every year. He may not see everything that happens on the court, but you’d never know.

Who does see everything with eyes wide open? Tony Parker. Is this a Texas thing, a San Antonio thing, or does coach Greg Popovich just have a thing for bug-eyed players?

Back in the day soldiers came off the battlefield with an expression called the Thousand Yard Stare. The saying to go along with the look was, “Don’t mean nothin’.”

The San Antonio Stare says just the opposite. It means everything. It’s frightening to see. How many teams have left the playoffs haunted by the San Antonio Stare? Their look even found a home on Patty Mills’ face.

After only one game it’s hard looking forward to three more, or six more. What do the Blazers do?

Start with perfecting the Portland Stare. It’s hard to know what to look like in the second round when you haven’t been out of the first in fourteen years, so take a page from the masters. Open. Your. Eyes. Portland. Players and fans, use your fingers to stretch your eyes as open as you can, then practice without hands.

While you’re at it, put in ear plugs too. Don’t listen to radio experts say Portland is living on borrowed time, that no one expected them to beat Houston, that this year’s record was planned for next year.

Don’t fall into the trap of, “No matter what happens next, you’ve had a great run.”

Greatness is measured on a different scale in the NBA. It’s measured by rings, championship rings. You don’t get a ring for a first round win followed by a fade. The Spurs saw you coming, Blazers. They see everything. Now it’s time to open your eyes and be like Timmy and Tony, the real T and T.

You don’t need a team visit to the ophthalmologist to get the shots to drop. Put on your San Antonio Stare when you watch the game tape and you’ll notice missed shot inside and out. Easy shots bounced out, hard shots drifted. Those shots went in during the last round and will go in again.

That’s why they play the games. We’ll know you’re ready for the next one when you show up with eyes as big as the ball.

(written for






About David Gillaspie
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