Ric wrote the recent cover story on the Spurs.
June 1 -- Ric Bucher penned The Magazine's most recent cover story, "All Work and No Play ..." about the Western Conference finalist San Antonio Spurs. Bucher's article destroys the myth that the Spurs are staid and boring bunch. How? It has everything to do with Manu Ginobili's frozen underwear, paintball matches at Tim Duncan's place and coach Gregg Popovich's sly sense of humor.

Bucher joined us Wednesday as he chatted about Timmy hangin' 10, how the Spurs find all those electric international players and he provides hints as to the best way to freeze a teammate's boxers.

Sam (Othello, WA): Ric--can't wait to read the article...What have you seen the Spurs do off the court that would surprise people most?

Ric Bucher: My first thought is seeing Tim Duncan stand up on a surfboard in Puerto Rico. I had the chance to go surfing with he and Jason Kidd during pre-Olympic qualifying. Seeing a 7-foot guy who had never stood up before, catch a wave on an 8-foot board, was a sight to behold. It was a pretty decent wave, too.

Ben (Fountain Hills, AZ): Howdy, Ric! What do you have to say to the people who still say, despite the electric play of Ginobili/Parker/Duncan, that the Spurs are a boring team? GO SPURS GO!

Ric Bucher: First impressions are hard to erase. The Spurs were a boring team before they landed Ginobili and Parker, at least offensively. It might even have something to do with those black, white and silver uniforms. Then again, maybe not. I llllove watching them play now. They have great defense, creative offense, yet they're fundamentally sound in most respects as well.

Ric Bucher: This didn't make it into the story, but Pop jokes all the time that Manu should be drug-tested for the crazy way he plays. Suffice it to say, he doesn't always stick to the game plan.

Tony - Austin: Stories like yours are finally letting everyone else in on what Spurs fans have known for some time -- they are the premiere franchise in all of sports. Do you see any reason why that will change in coming years?

Ric Bucher: The salary cap poses a challenge, especially for small-market teams. Pop and RC Buford have done a great job of maintaining cap flexibility and finding talent that's relatively cheap but can come in and help right away. Staying at the top is going to be tough but they've created an atmosphere where guys will play for less, amazingly enough. If they can keep that, they have a chance to remain in contention for a long time.

Josh (Washington D.C.): Thanks for the piece Ric. Why have the Spurs seemingly found talent no one else has in Parker and Ginobili?

Ric Bucher: They've done a great job in developing contacts and relationships throughout Europe. Don't forget, Pop speaks Russian and Serbian -- that goes a long way. Also, they've been willing to draft a kid and let him continue to develop in Europe for a couple of years. That's what they did with Manu. Other teams are harder pressed to get something right away from their draft picks.

John (San Antonio): Over the years the Spurs haven't gotten as much national media attention. Even in the years when they won championships. Why do you think this is, and are things starting to look up for them in that respect?

Ric Bucher: They don't want national media attention. They darn near discourage it. It's part of Pop's let's-not-take-ourselves-too-seriously mantra. If a Spur would court the media or look as if he were basking in the glory, he'd get razzed to no end by his teammates. The other factor, like it or not, is that San Antonio isn't easy to get to. You have to take a connection through somewhere to get there from either coast.

Matt: so I'm guessing when you freeze someone's underwear you dip them in water first, right?

Ric Bucher: Sounds as if you're taking notes to pull your own prank. I don't think Sean Marks dipped them -- I think they just got naturally frosted. But I'll ask him if there's some sort of special technique and get back to you.

Edsel (Austin, TX): Given that the spurs have almost every one of their best players locked up for another 4-5 years, could they turn into a dynasty assuming everyone improves every year?

Ric Bucher: The tricky part, again, is going to be maintaining their depth without spending more than owner Peter Holt can afford. They need to sign Nazr Mohammed this summer and find a way to keep Beno and Devin Brown. That's what makes them special. The Kings had depth and then spent all their money on Mike Bibby and Chris Webber and couldn't afford to keep their bench. You know where they are now. The Spurs need to avoid that happening. So far they have.

Dex (San Antonio, TX): Great article, Ric! Which contender from the East - Miami or Detroit - do you think matches up better against the Spurs and would pose the bigger challenge?

Ric Bucher: I have Detroit winning it all. Tony Parker is going to have a hard time against Billups, Tayshaun and Manu would be a matchup for the ages and no one guards Duncan better one-on-one than Rasheed Wallace. It will be SA's depth vs. Detroit's solid first five. Miami has too many holes, particularly with Shaq playing on one leg, to pose much of a challenge.

Albert (Shanghai): Ric, love your work. How good is Manu? He has won at every level that he has ever competed. This guy has more in common with MJ than any other guard in the NBA, maybe not as good as Lebron, Kobe, TMAC, or Wade, but he always ends up winning and making huge plays (offense and defense) when his team needs it most. What's not to love about him?

Ric Bucher: I've been on the Manu bandwagon since he arrived in the NBA. He struggled his first year playing with a sprained ankle but I could see he was going to be special. What I love is his energy and his wiliness. You know he's going left and he still can't be stopped. What has helped him dramatically is that he's added three-point range to his game. He was iffy prior to this year. Now you have to get up on him -- and when you do that, he's going to the rack. I think of him as a wisp of smoke -- no matter who or what is in front of him, he seems completely confident that he is going to get to where he wants to go.

Ric Bucher: Thanks for joining us today, I appreciate the support ... Next up is a Bruce Bowen feature. You guys should like that. Read about how Bowen has built a life out of scratch in the next issue of ESPN The Magazine. The current issue with Manu on the cover is on newsstands now.