You might remember LeBron and Carmelo getting excoriated for stabbing their respective teams in the back. You want to know why they didn't care? Because, deep down, they know teams don't care about players, either. They probably witnessed 20 variations of the Perkins trade during their first few years in the league. Hey, it's a business. Hey, that's just sports. Hey, trades come with the territory. Isn't loyalty a two-way street? When a team does what's best for itself, we call it smart. When a player does the same, we call him selfish. We never think what a double standard it is.
I thought Perk deserved better than getting blindsided in Denver, then having to limp around with a sprained knee and pack his stuff with tears rolling down his face. Maybe I'm a sap. But that was our guy. Family. On the phone, my dad decided -- completely serious -- that he would have rather lost the 2011 title with Perkins than try to win it without him. Why?
There have been many faces that have passed through the Spurs organization. Finley, Turkoglu, Malik Rose, to name a few. These players, with the exception of Malik, never endeared themselves to the fanbase and when they were traded/let go the team and fans understood that it was a necessity. But why are we talking about the Spurs in a trade season where so many people switched teams?
It's because of what sets the Spurs apart from every other team in the league. Loyalty. How many of us hated on RJ's contract last year? I'll be honest that I was one when I first heard about it. But, as Kelly Dwyer wrote the day after, "The Spurs did this guy a favor." How many teams would resign someone who failed to meet expectations so badly that even the most diehard fans couldn't find any more derogatory nicknames? The Spurs would after receiving RJ's word that he would retool himself over the off-season.
Manu Ginobili's contract, from a financial point of view, is a poor one. He is signed through 2013 and owed an average of about $12 million per year. Why did the Spurs re-sign him? Because they were loyal to him. I don't think there was any doubt that they would get a contract extension last year, and the FO overpaid him because they are loyal to their players.
Why do free agents want to come to San Antonio? Even despite Duncan's inevitable fall into mediocrity as his Caribbean wheels fall off, people still want to come play here. You'll never hear the front office writing a letter condemning a free agent for leaving. If a player wants a trade, the Spurs will do their best to trade or release him ala Michael Finley and RMJ. The whole organization is professional and has the ultimate family atmosphere. They do right by their fans and their players.
There are different types of families. There are ones that hang out with each other every single second of every single day (or at least claim to) and there are the ones that spend quality time together and make each other feel welcome and loved whether they see them every night, every week, or every 5 year reunion. Sean still has his head boxed by Timmy at halftime, the Admiral still shows up to games. No other team boasts the camaraderie between players for the past 20 years except our Spurs.
And THAT more than anything else is why the Spurs work so hard. Because when an employee knows that his boss has his back. When he knows he won't get blindsided by a trade, he knows he can give everything to the organization and be rewarded for it.