Sunday, March 6, 2011

Play Boring, Play to Win

Winning 50 Games In Style

While checking out ESPN on my phone this morning I noticed an NBA milestone just reached by the Spurs that is nothing short of remarkable. After beating Cleveland (obviously not that remarkable) the Spurs have improved their record to an NBA best 50-11, giving them their 12th straight 50 win record. The only other franchise to match a streak of this duration is the Lakers, who achieved it between the 1979-80 and 1990-91 seasons.
Not to take anything away from a Lakers team that at the time included multiple hall-of-famers and won multiple championships, but in today’s NBA a streak like this is much harder to accomplish. For one thing, it is rare that premier players stay on one team anymore and the biggest key to the Spurs success in this era has no doubt been Tim Duncan. While most players either look for the max contract in a big NBA market or attempt to leave their original teams to join forces with other all-stars, Duncan won a championship in his second season with the Spurs and never looked back. Another big reason the Spurs have been able to produce so many winning seasons is their supporting cast. This franchise has done an incredible job of finding talent where others don’t look, both overseas and here in the United States. Obviously, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli are two of the greatest international players to ever join the NBA but the Spurs also have an incredible ability to find talent that other teams overlook. The fact that ignored players such as George Hill, Chris Quinn and Matt Bonner make consistent contributions to a championship contender is a credit to Greg Popovich and the Spurs coaching staff and a big reason why they have been able to keep their franchise players healthy and continuously have such winning records.
Other NBA franchises should look to San Antonio as the example of how to win consistently and be successful in the league. Their ability to retain their big talent players and keep them healthy, utilize their supporting cast to the fullest of their abilities and win NBA championships all while remaining drama-free and maintaining a strong fan base make them the premier example of a successful NBA franchise. Even though they have been playing some of the most boring basketball to watch over the last 10 years, this milestone is the gold standard that every team should aim for.

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