Spurs What NBA Needs, HatesMay 29, 2012
The San Antonio Spurs might win their fifth NBA title since 1999 in the next month. Even if they don’t, they’ve gone far enough to remind us of what they stand for. Substance, not flash. Team, not individual personalities. Small-market excellence, not big-market eccentricities. No wonder the NBA powers-that-be probably despise them.
David Robinson started it all with the Spurs. A star that didn’t act like one and was willing to be coached. Tim Duncan continued and elevated the refreshing characteristic. Gregg Popovich doesn’t get enough credit for his coaching and it’s mostly his own fault. He is not a self-promoter and can be prickly with the national media. It’s almost funny to see him rip apart whoever asks him those inane end-of-quarter questions on national telecasts. I like to think it’s his way of fighting a silly NBA tradition. When is the last time anything useful came out of those? I’m not blaming the reporters. They’re just doing their jobs—I personally think the interviews are unfair to everybody.
Stephen Jackson flopped with the Bucks not because he didn’t have talent. It’s just much easier when you’re the 8th player on a winning team and Tim Duncan keeps you in line than when you’re counted on to be a leader and a star in Milwaukee. Please don’t compare his play in San Antonio to here. Two totally different animals.
It’s also much easier to have patience with foreign players when you’re winning without them. The Spurs mastered the art of drafting foreign players low and then letting them develop overseas. They kept winning with a various assortment of role players in the meantime.
It all comes back to Duncan and Popovich. They are the common threads to all of the titles. It’s often suspected that the NBA lottery is “rigged”. It certainly wasn’t when the Spurs got Duncan. Can you imagine the size of his legend if he led the Knicks or a bigger market team to four titles?
Popovich jokes that he’s riding Duncan’s coattails. That’s oversimplifying matters. He’s a great coach. But you need a great player to set an example and listen to teaching. Duncan has been that and the rest of the NBA should visit his classroom.