In a run of consistency in excellence that can only be compared to the greatest sports dynasties like the Brady’s Patriots and Russell’s Celtics, the Spurs will not be appearing in the NBA playoffs for the first time in 23 seasons. The Spurs were one-year short of appearing in the playoffs for four consecutive decades in a run that was spurred by their drafting of all-time great Tim Duncan in 1997, which led to the 23-straight years and five titles to go along with that. While many Spurs fans are lamenting this end of an era, Spurs’ coach Greg Popovich didn’t seem to take it that hard. “Looking at the past doesn’t do much good,” Popovich said. “Any success we’ve had has been because we’ve had some great players.’

When the NBA returned, it was with the stipulation that the playoffs would have eight seeding games in order to figure out who was playing who as well as who would be in the eighth-seed play-in games. Whoever was the eighth seed at the end of the seeding games would play the ninth seed, if they were within four games of each other, and the eight seed would have to win one of two to make it into the playoffs. The Spurs, who had had a dreadful season, were on the outside looking in and ended up being tied for the ninth seed but lost the tiebreaker to Memphis and will be leaving Orlando prematurely.

While the Spurs have not been the perennial contenders that they had been for the past few years, they are in danger of falling into what is known as the “treadmill of mediocrity” where a team doesn’t have the upside to hope to be title contenders in the near future but is too good to lose enough to get a high draft pick, so they end up falling between the seven and ninth seed every year. While every indication is that Popovich will return next year and the Spurs do have some young talented guards and former all-stars, I don’t see them returning to contention until they realize that they have to blow up their core and invest in young talent.

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