The 2016-17 NBA season is probably the easiest to predict when it comes to which teams will face off in the NBA Finals.
But while the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers and Western Conference front-runners Golden State Warriors are poised to meet for the third straight time, ex-pro Kevin Martin is rooting for another team: the San Antonio Spurs.
And the 34-year-old guard has a good reason. Aside from the Spurs currently at second place in the West with a 43-13 record, Martin ended his 12-year NBA career last year with that team, appearing in 16 games. He averaged 6.2 PPG in his brief stint with the Spurs.
“I’mma get San Antonio Spurs. It’s hard to root against them. They do it night in, night out with class,” Martin shared during a 2017 NBA All Star Viewing Party in Manila, Philippines.
Martin is in the country as a guest for local sports channel Basketball TV (BTV)’s NBA All Star Weekend Festival which featured fun events for fans.
It’s an interesting pick for Martin, given that he had longer stints with the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder, both of whom are also in the top eight of the Western Conference. But chalk it up to how impressed he was by the Spurs culture in his short stint there.
“You realize the difference between the Spurs and other teams because Tony, Manu, Tim, and Gregg Popovich, they set the tone, they respect a lot of other players, and they got [those titles] with class all those years. You can’t take anything like that for granted,” Martin said.
Picking the NBA champion was just one of the many questions Martin answered during the viewing party.
Martin also opened up on the process leading to his decision to retire, given that he is still relatively young and some felt he still might have had a few years of good basketball left in him.
“I’m old, man. My body will talk to you. Although it was more mentally than physically. But I am enjoying life right now,” Martin admitted.
“It was, I knew I had a daughter coming, and I always said I would have a kid coming at the right time. I just started talking to my family, and them being supportive, I decided [to retire]. That was the story. They were supportive with that hopefully I made the right decision. We’ll see over time.”
Martin was also present during Barangay Ginebra-Star game six last Sunday. He talked about his feel for that game, which the Kings won to force a game seven on Tuesday.
“It’s wild. That’s one thing. The players, they’re a scrappy group of guys and that’s always good to see. I feel like it was more packed than when Muhammad Ali came in here. Just kidding. But it was great to just watch and be part of your basketball here,” Martin shared.
“It’s great [here]. I don’t wanna leave. They welcomed me and my father with open arms. We are blessed with the opportunity to be able to come here and see the joy and be part of this All Star Festival weekend. Seeing these kids play little games, it’s just been great.”
Lastly, Martin was asked about the one thing that probably stood out throughout his career: his peculiar shooting form and release.
Martin said “over 50 coaches” told him to “correct” his form, but for someone who has made over a thousand three’s on a career 38.4 percent mark, that release wasn’t that bad at all for him.
Now enjoying his post-NBA career, Martin just wants people to remember him as being a consummate professional.
“I’ve always been small, under the radar, good shooting guard taken in the draft never made the All-Star game or McDonald’s all-American, every time I step on the court, I feel it’s a blessing,” he said.
“I think you just have to be remembered as a great person. It doesn’t matter what you do or how many points you score. It’s really about being that.”