Maybe the conventional wisdom that youth would benefit from a compressed schedule was all wrong: Tuesday was a banner day for the senior members of the NBA playoffs.
Gregg Popovich, head coach of the ageless San Antonio Spurs, topped Tom Thibodeau for Coach of the Year. The award was well deserved, as the Spurs took home the best record in the NBA despite the age on their two anchors, Manu Ginobili (age 34) and Tim Duncan (36). The Spurs flew under the radar all year, topped in the media by the excitement of young guns on Oklahoma City, Chicago, and Miami. Popovich led an aging roster in a shortened season to a No. 1 seed — and his second Coach of the Year Award.
Meanwhile, an older Celtics team rode the back of 34-year-old Paul Pierce to an upset of the Atlanta Hawks on Atlanta’s home floor. Rajon Rondo, Boston’s biggest young star, was suspended for a Game 2 that the Celtics needed to win. And under pressure, the veterans showed up in a big way.
Over on the West Coast, Kobe Bryant has been playing like a man possessed. The 33-year-old poured in 38 points in a smooth victory over the Denver Nuggets. Seemingly on a quest to silence his doubters, the Lakers’ shooting guard scored efficiently over his outmatched defenders. The Lakers, like the Spurs, have been largely written off in favor of younger, hipper teams in the West, but Kobe is proving he’s not done yet.
In a season that was predicted to be a runaway for the NBA’s young guns, the old guys have proven they’re not done yet. I’m still rooting for Tim Duncan, a transcendent talent and an all-time great, to keep churning out efficient games for one of the best teams in the league. The Association may turn out to belong to Durant, Rose, and LeBron after all, but the old guys may yet give them a run for their money.