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MONROE: Senior Spurs try to sail into sunset

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Mike Monroe

 
   
 

SAN ANTONIO

I think I was three or four years shy of my 50th birthday when I started getting propaganda from AARP seeking my membership.

I mention this annoying fact today only because the remainder of NBA Finals 2003 is all about the old guys.

center , who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008, is 37. , who won¿t go into the Hall unless they make quality character and consideration for the needs of the sports media the top criteria, is 37. , who is in two times better condition than ever has been at any point in his underachieving career, is 41 and playing in his first Finals in his 19 seasons in the league.

It won¿t be long before they start hearing from AARP themselves.

There no longer is any doubt the will prevail in this series as long as Coach Gregg Popovich keeps saying mean things to and , which he pretty much promised to do despite the euphoria surrounding the ¿ win over the in Friday night¿s Game 5.

Reminded that throughout the playoffs his have followed all but one loss with a victory after his legendary verbal blitz jobs, Popovich said the notion of some pregame ranting ¿is a good point."

¿Pop" added a disclaimer: ¿But I¿m not a bleep bleep," which might be up for debate among players and a few media members who have run afoul of Popovich¿s sense of journalistic propriety over the last few days.

The would have been content enough to close out the series in New Jersey had they not stumbled in Game 4, but now gets to close out his great career in front of the San Antonio fans who love him and probably some of the disadvantaged kids who attend Carver Academy, the school Robinson has funded out of his own pocket ($5 million worth).

What matters most, as far as The Finals are concerned, is that understands what it will mean to Robinson to win another title in the final game of his career.

got the ¿farewell tour¿ treatment this season when he was virtually forced to announce it would be his final go-around. So the All-Star Game was all about MJ and the final couple of weeks of the regular season built up to the final game of his career.

It was not, of course, a playoff game, let alone a game in The Finals.

waited until the were out of the playoffs to tell the world he had decided to hang it up, though most of us already had figured it out.

Some of us even drove hundreds of miles, on our own dime, to see his very last game on his home court and give our readers our thoughts of a very special night.

Robinson, who also had announced before the season began that this would be his last, went around the league to an utter lack of acclaim, which is mind-numbing to absorb but precisely his preference.

Now, though, with another title so tantalizingly close, the most important Spur has thought about sending Robinson out in the most fitting way, with another title.

San Antonians are even calling Robinson ¿our Elway," and never mind that the Broncos quarterback played a much more prominent role in his last game, Denver¿s Super Bowl win over Atlanta, than The Admiral is apt to play in Game 6 or Game 7 of these Finals.

Duncan is thinking about Robinson and some of the other oldies-but-goodies who may be playing the final games of their careers on Sunday or Wednesday.

¿Dave is one of the guys," Duncan said, ¿but there are some guys on our team who have not been there and have not had an opportunity to make it this far: Kevin (Willis) and Danny (Ferry) and .

¿This is David¿s last year and maybe ¿s. There are so many reasons to win it. But our motivation is just that it¿s been a long time since we¿ve been here. We feel we have the team and the opportunity to do it and just don¿t let it slip by."

It¿s been 19 years since stepped onto an NBA court for the first time and this is as close as he has ever been to a title.

Nobody wants a ring more than he does. It will surprise nobody if Willis gives his teammates an impassioned speech before Sunday¿s Game 6.

And the last thing the need is another reason for the to be motivated and focused.

Mike Monroe can be reached at his e-mail address, mmonroe@foxsports.com.

Tagged: Nets, Spurs, Jazz, Stephen Jackson, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker

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