The San Antonio Spurs: The Last Team Standing

Photo Credit: NBA Entertainment\Getty Images

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It really does seem like they’ve been doing this forever. Not this, mind you. Not this level of offensive excellence, but this quiet, understated march towards the Larry O’Brien trophy while the eyes of the basketball world are on flashier teams in bigger markets – like Lob City, for instance. Chris Paul having Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan as his personal dunk muses, capable and willing of ridiculous feats of aerial derring-do. And what did the Spurs, the habitually boring Spurs do to this team? The same thing they did to the Seven Seconds or Less Suns too many times to count. They dismantled them, broke them down with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of skill. When it was done, it was a sweep and no one was surprised, no one batted an eye and no one thought about it.

And yet, if you asked them honestly, would they care? Would they mind the attention of the basketball world to be on them, to notice their brilliance? To proclaim them this generation’s answer to dynasties from eras past? I know the answer, I knew the answer before I even asked those questions. And, if you search your mind, so did you. The Spurs have never been about attention,  fame or welcome parties. They get in, do their job, and get out. So why don’t we respect that ethos, that do your work and go home ethic?

Easy. It’s because we have always, for whatever reason, thought of the Spurs as boring. It’s a combination of things. The Riverwalk. Greg Popovich. Their unwillingness to whine about their station in the NBA’s power structure. But mainly, it’s about the 2 great stars in the San Antonio firmament: Robinson, and Duncan.

Here’s the thing. We talk all the time about what we want or what we don’t want out of athletes. Usually the we want list goes something like this: play at a high level, never cheat yourself or your game, be fundamentally sound and contribute in the community. All of those things, every last one, are Robinson and Duncan. And yet we find ourselves yawning every time we see them in big postseason series, desperate to see the new thing, the flashier thing. Even if, as they have only been all too happy to prove flashier is not always better.

But why? That’s the big overarching question. And the truth is this: What we say we want and what we ACTUALLY want are two different things. And to illustrate this point, I will use a quote from one of my great personal heroes.

“Water can flow or it can crash. Be like water my friend.” – Bruce Lee.

We want teams and players who will crash for us. We want the explosive personalities of the Showtime Lakers, or the diamond-sharp intensity of the MJ Bulls. In short, we want to be compelled. We want to be drawn to our champions.

The Spurs, on the other hand flow. They just are the same sort of quiet international-influenced excellence they always have been. And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe we were never ready to tolerate a dynasty like this, to tolerate a dynasty influenced to this degree by two European players like Parker and Ginobili. I’m not sure.

But whatever the reason, here’s the point. While we debate who is the greatest player of this era, the true greatest player of this era just keeps on going, keeps on leading the greatest team of this era. In silence and perhaps without the appreciation he and they deserves, but they just keep on going.

2 Responses to “The San Antonio Spurs: The Last Team Standing”

  1. CDSBackfist says:

    I’ve always viewed the Spurs as the best team of the last decade. They just go out, play the game, and go home. Nothing too flashy. People ask me sometimes who I think the best team in the NBA is. Most of the time they hate my answer of the Spurs. Its a team game and I don’t know of any other team that defines that word better.

    Completely agree.

  2. MODI says:

    The Spurs are beautiful to watch. They just know how to play the game. And there is no substitute for the big three playing so many years together… And when Pop gives Tony Parker the green light, we see just how much he has been asked to hold back all of these years. Dude is tremendous. Parker vs. Westbrook should be a lot of fun!

    I don’t think the popularity problem has never been the lack of flashiness of their game, but the personality of Duncan. Had he had Garnett’s personality with everything else the same, SA would have likely been embraced far more by the casual fans.

    However, I find the Spurs to be very useful in that everytime I hear some pseudo fans lie and say that they don’t watch the NBA anymore because of “lack of fundamentals” or some other crap, I ask them why they are not a Spurs fan or why they don’t watch them. Yet the fact that Spurs do poor ratings is general proof of that so many who state that are completely full of shit…

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