Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs will begin their quest to return to the NBA Finals in an unlikely location - Clune Arena.
Coach Gregg Popovich, a 1970 Air Force grad, will bring his team to the academy for the first four days of training camp from Oct. 1 through 4. It hasn't been determined if any of the practices will be open to the public, as details with the Air Force and the NBA are being finalized.
"It's kind of a neat thing around here," Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said.
A representative with the Spurs said there will be an effort to at least open one day of practice to cadets, but there were too many variables to make anything official.
The wheels have been turning to bring the Spurs to town since Popovich made a July visit to Colorado Springs and began visiting with academy officials to see if such a trip would be possible. Popovich could not be reached Wednesday, but the lure is fairly obvious in that his team can practice in a fairly isolated setting, they can be exposed to some of the military aspects from Popovich's past and it can all be done at high altitude before returning to San Antonio (elevation 809 feet) for the remainder of camp.
"I think it says a lot about coach Pop that he doesn't forget where he came from," Pilipovich said. "What a neat person and what a great ambassador to the academy."
The Falcons will not lose any floor time to their visitors, as the Spurs have workouts planned both at Clune and the nearby Center Gym. Pilipovich is hoping to get his team at least some access to those practices so they can be around the NBA players and see the teaching that takes place.
It could also provide a recruiting talking point, particularly since the Falcons already drop Popovich's name frequently with recruits.
"Everybody can really identify with him, especially basketball players," Pilipovich said. "They know he coaches one of the best organizations in the NBA. He's won four titles and he's awesome - a Hall of Famer. We throw his name out there and hopefully he doesn't mind that we let people know that he is a grad and he played here."
The Spurs lost to Miami in the Finals.