Saluting The Spurs


Thursday June 20th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Although I’ve only been through San Antonio, TX maybe two or three times at most in all my travels, I consider myself a loyal fan of the San Antonio Spurs basketball team. I absolutely love their way of doing business, and in this era of showboating maniacs they’re a breath of fresh air.

  They have been perennial winners since they entered the NBA for the 1976-77 season, and have only failed to qualify for the playoffs four times. That’s beyond remarkable, and they do it with a matter of fact business like air that’s the ultimate in professionalism. They do things correctly, at least in my opinion. They don’t gloat or waste time making foolish statements – they just WIN.

   The organization is razor sharp from the top on down, and they make it a point to acquire great players who are also solid people. David Robinson was a quality player, but also not your typical off the court hoodlum. He came from the Naval Academy, and how many NBA teams search for talent there? Is there another basketball player that has ever come from there? Not that I know of.

   Tim Duncan is also a thoroughbred. They realized the center position is crucial for any team to win a championship, and they were able to get two outstanding ones back to back. It’s extremely rare, but the Spurs are an extremely rare organization. They know what they’re doing, and all the other teams know it. They have quietly built themselves if not a dynasty, a reasonable facsimile.

   Their coach Greg Popovich is one of my favorites as well. He took over in 1996, and won four NBA Championships. He’s now the longest tenured coach in not only the NBA but the ‘big four’ major sports. He’s looked at as a guru and one of the all time greats, but he does it very low key.

   His style of coaching is drenched in fundamentals, and Spurs teams are known for showing up ready to play. They don’t rely on flashy playground antics, they play and execute precision team basketball that almost looks like it’s from another era. I love watching them, and I cheer loudly.

   My hometown Milwaukee Bucks used to be a lot like the Spurs. When I was a kid they always made the playoffs, and at one stretch they won seven straight division championships.  But then they’d always run into a monster team in the playoffs and never be able to get over the big hump. It was frustrating at the time, but looking back the Bucks were a great franchise for many years.

   That’s no longer the case, and the Bucks have been mired in mediocrity for so long I lost track. I live in the Chicago area now, and I admit I follow the Bulls. I don’t dislike them, and they have a rich history as well. The ‘90s were amazing with Michael Jordan, but after that they fell off the face of the planet for many years and it’s only lately they’re starting to become winners again.

   The Spurs have done it year in and year out, and I can’t help but cheer for them. Excellence has a formula, and not everyone can achieve it much less maintain it. That goes for anything, not just sports teams. I have always aimed for excellence, but have not come within reach. It’s frustrating on one hand, but on the other it makes me have even greater respect for the few who do attain it.

   I was sad to see the Spurs lose to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals tonight. I’m not even that big of a basketball fan anymore, and a lot has to do with the way the Heat put their team together by buying it. Sure, why shouldn’t they win it all? They did it the easy way. The Spurs played the hand they were dealt, and have shown consistency for a long time. The Heat have now won back to back titles, but let’s see how their legacy matches up with the Spurs. They’re still my favorite.

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