I have loved basketball for as long as I can remember. I have spent countless hours playing and watching it. It didn't matter if it was high school, college, or the NBA, if it was basketball I would watch it. I was of course excited for the NCAA tournament as I am every year but for some reason I didn't really enjoy it this year. At first I thought it was because my one of my favorite college teams failed to make the tournament and the other was upset in the first round. Despite not really enjoying most of the tournament I was still excited about watching the title game between UConn and Kentucky. About 10 minutes into it I found myself bored. The title game consisted of failed pick and roll after failed pick and roll which would then leave Shabazz Napier or Aaron Harrison being forced to create something before the shot clock expired. It seemed to me as if neither team could get a half way decent look at the basket. Some might say that this was due to good defense and nerves but from what I remember it seemed to be from bad offense. There was very little ball movement or off ball movement which resulted in bad shots. It was at this point that I realized that I have been extremely spoiled by the Spurs.
UConn and Kentucky aren't the only teams out there that experience this problem. The problem also isn't limited to college teams. I've found myself reacting the same way watching teams like Oklahoma City and New York. OKC relies on Kevin Durant's brilliance to score points while New York relies on Carmelo Anthony's. Neither team seems to ever run an offensive set. It's almost always an iso for Durant or Russell Westbrook and when it isn't an iso for one of them it's a pick and roll with them and Serge Ibaka or Kendrick Perkins. New York just seems to iso Carmelo on every possession and hope that he can will them to victory. There's no ball movement, very little off ball movement, and poor shot selection. OKC and New York aren't the only NBA teams with boring offenses either. The majority of NBA teams rely on a single player to make tough shots or create for others on every single possession.
The Spurs on the other hand have been an exceptional offensive team the past several years. The Spurs have been playing the most beautiful basketball I have ever seen this year. They are always passing, always looking for the open man, and always giving up a good shot for a great shot. As the artist formerly known as Aaron Stampler calls it they've been playing Neo-Ball.
Top Teamwork Plays of the 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs (via NBA)
As the video shows, there are multiple possessions where everyone touches the ball as it gets whipped around the court only to lead to a wide open lay up or three pointer with 10 seconds left on the shot clock. It's amazing how the Spurs are able to get such a great shot in only 14 seconds while other teams take 20 seconds to get a terrible shot. I believe that this is due to the fact that the Spurs don't rely on a single player or two to make tough shots and create for everyone else. They instead rely on Pop's system, their basketball IQ, their creativity, and their flawless execution.
Sadly I'm not sure how much longer we'll be able to enjoy this beautiful basketball. I don't think there will ever be another basketball team that moves the ball as well as this year's Spurs do. We still have some hope for it to continue in the future but I don't think we'll see it after Tim, Manu, and Pop retire. I know that it's been said many times but I'm going to say it once again; what we have here is really special and we need to continue to enjoy the ride because we might not ever get to see basketball played this beautifully again.