San Antonio Spurs Running Away in the SouthwestBy James F.
The San Antonio Spurs are red-hot. How hot? They have won 11 in a row and have opened up a once tight division race with the Memphis Grizzlies to eight games. They have also taken over the top spot in the Western Conference over the team most believe to be the best in the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Spurs are now dealing with injuries to Manu Ginobli and Tim Duncan. But last in against the Minnesota Timberwolves it did not slow them down any as Tony Parker scored 31 points and Danny Green added 28 in a 104-94 win.
The Spurs quietly go about their business without a lot of love from the networks. But they thrive in what would be considered a small market. They have kept their stars in San Antonio for many years. While other teams like the Orlando Magic, a small market team but one located in a very desirable location, continue to lose theirs to big markets. How do they manage this? A lot of the credit has to go to the management and to their coach Gregg Popovich. Where other teams are about winning and losing, the Spurs obviously have created an atmosphere where the players feel loyalty from the team and in return they show loyalty in return.
Duncan had a chance to leave years ago. In fact, the Magic thought they had him right after Shaquille O’Neal left for the Los Angeles Lakers. But Duncan stayed with the Spurs. People asked why?
If you want the answer to that question, look no further than this season when Pop incurred the wrath of David Stern, TNT and Miami Heat fans when he sent his aging stars home a game early from a six game road swing so they could rest up for a home game against the Grizzlies. Imagine that. An employer going to his employees and saying to them “hey, you’ve been working too hard lately, you look a bit tired, how about you go take a day off with pay and come back in a couple of days.” Unheard of! And what did the Spurs get for it? A fine from Stern.
But you can be rest assured they got something else for that too. They got the attention of every player in the NBA. What player saw that and didn’t say “Wow! That’s pretty cool of them. Too bad our coaches would never do that.” The Spurs are a model franchise. It should not be a shock that they sell out every game and keep their players well into their careers. It also should surprise nobody that they win.