Yesterday, the Spurs won 50 games in a season for the 14th season in a row, extending their own NBA record.
This stat reminded me once again why I love the Spurs and Gregg Popovich.
Because more so than Duncan, Parker or Gionbili the Spurs are Greg Popovich.
No coach in the NBA maximizes the the talents of each individual on his team better than Gregg Popovich. It is the one quality that separates him from all other coaches currently in the NBA. Regardless of who comes and goes through San Antonio, they always play better here than they do any where else. Players such as Bruce Bowen, Malik Rose, Speedy Claxton, Rasho Nesterovic, Nazr Mohammed, Fabricio Oberto, George Mason, George Hill, Chris Quinn and etc. Then you have current examples on the roster in Matt Bonner and Danny Green.
Popovich simply understands the psychology of players better than any other coach in the league. He understands not only how to get the most out of players individually, but also how to get 13 grown men to come together around the common cause of winning. He just simply knows how to uses the pieces of his team to create the picture perfect puzzle.
When Tony Parker went down a few weeks ago with an ankle injury that was reported to keep him out a month. I thought this is where the Spurs fall off and become average. The team's best player and on floor orchestrator, would be a loss that Pop's system couldn't handle. They simply slid Corey Joseph into the starting lineup and increased the workloads of Manu Ginobili and Gary Neal. The Spurs have played as if missing Parker is just like missing any other player, not like missing an MVP candidate (which he has been this season).
And on Monday the Spurs had arguably their biggest win of the season, a 105-93 defeat of last year's Western Conference champs, the Oklahoma City Thunder. With main contributors being Tiago Splitter, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard.
The Popovich system at its quintessential best.
No Tony Parker and going against one of the two best teams in the league, no problem. Just another night for Greg Popovich.
Earlier this season the Spurs were fined 250,000 dollars for sending Parker, Duncan, Ginobili, and Green home prior to game in Miami. Result? They only lost to the defending champs 105-100. When all the players commit to play as one they can compete with anybody.
One of the most egregious things I hear about the NBA is that the Spurs are boring to watch. These people are not true fans of basketball or the NBA. They are simply "fans" who digest their basketball in highlights on SportsCenter.
No team is more fluid and beautiful to watch than the Spurs. Their floor spacing and ball movement is second to none. They give nightly effort on the defensive end, which 2/3 of league's teams can't claim.
When other coaches fall asleep and dream of what their team could play like, they are greeted by dreams of the Spurs.
Then I get sad to think we don't have too many more years left enjoying the mastery of Gregg Popovich. Will he retire with Duncan or hang on a little longer with Parker? He is already 64 years old, how many more years can he submit to the grind of travel in the NBA?
With Phil Jackson already gone, I look around the the NBA and wonder who will carry the torch after Popovich is gone? Who is the next true great leader of men? Scott Brooks? Mark Jackson? Eric Spolestra? Tom Thibodeau? I just don't see Jackson, Riley or Pop in any of those coaches. I could be wrong and hope I'm wrong. Cause the NBA needs people like Popovich.
Don't leave me Pop, I'm not ready.