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Five Minute Guide

Intriguing players populate Pistons, Spurs rosters

Posted: Tuesday June 7, 2005 5:09PM; Updated: Wednesday June 8, 2005 2:12PM
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San Antonio Spurs

Manu Ginobili
Manu Ginobili plays with the type of reckless abandon that is entertaining to watch and difficult to defend.
Nat Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
Five Minute Guide to the Finals

Tim Duncan. The Spurs can measure Duncan's impact with one simple statistic: They boast the best winning percentage (.702) of any team in the four major U.S. sports since his arrival in 1997, a stretch that featured championships in the lockout-shortened '98-99 season and '02-03.

The 6-foot-11 forward-center keeps good company. Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, Bob Pettit and George Mikan are the only other players to be named All-NBA first team in each of their first eight seasons. He also is one of eight players to win multiple Finals MVP awards, joining Willis Reed, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal .

Duncan will threaten to add a third honor if his playoff performance so far is any indication. He is averaging 24.9 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.31 blocks while playing through some ankle trouble. Notwithstanding a 3-for-12 effort at the foul line in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against the Phoenix Suns, Duncan has shored up his most glaring weakness by making his free throws.

Manu Ginobili. Coach Gregg Popovich fittingly described the third-year guard and first-time All-Star as "just hell-bent for leather, absolutely all-out." What makes Ginobili so compelling to watch is that he combines his hard-nosed style with panache, such as when he took the ball behind his back before scoring on a reverse layup in the closing minutes of the Spurs' Game 2 victory in the conference finals.

Ginobili resembles Oscar winner Roberto Benigni and can act like him, too; the Argentine's dramatic flops would earn him yellow cards on the soccer pitch. Ginobili has played to rave reviews in the postseason, averaging 21.8 points on 51.2 percent shooting from the field. Not bad for the 57th pick in the '99 NBA Draft.

Tony Parker. The speedy 23-year-old point guard has become a fixture on the big stage; only Kobe Bryant has appeared in more playoff games at such a young age. Parker tends to be streaky with his jumper -- the Suns played a few feet off him and dared him to make perimeter shots in the conference finals -- but he's as good as anyone in the league at driving and sinking a floater in the lane over big men. Score another draft steal for the Spurs, who grabbed Parker with the last selection of the first round in '01.

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