The Spurs have received quite a bit of praise and respect from the national media lately, and rightly so. Everyday there's new stuff to read. To keep you busy while we wait for the playoffs here are some of those stories.
Kirk Goldsberry of Grantland wrote an outstanding piece filled with beautiful shot charts. Here's an excerpt from the article.
From a marketing standpoint, they're flies in the NBA ointment; from a basketball nerd's perspective, they are the ointment.
In a league obsessed with superstars, dunks, and endorsement deals, Gregg Popovich and the Spurs still dominate. From an X's and O's standpoint, although the Spurs offense is certainly clever, none of its key components are particularly complex, but that's not the point; the system's key actions are designed to put their talent in advantageous situations. And as the NBA and its mighty Western Conference prepares for another postseason gauntlet, it's no surprise that Tony Parker and the Spurs are right there, ready to weave right through it again.
Even ESPN ran a nice piece about the history of the HEB commercials.
H-E-B is a San Antonio-based supermarket chain that's been around for nearly 110 years. They are, to be clear, beloved, woven all the way into the fabric of the city. My friends and I used to ride our bikes to the H-E-B by my house and then go inside and steal the pan de dulce they had on display in the bakery area. It's one of the first things I remember when I think about being a kid in San Antonio. H-E-B is basically the only grocery store my mom has ever shopped at. When my parents come to visit my family and me in Houston, they drive clean past three separate grocery stores to get to an out-of-the-way H-E-B whenever they need to buy something. That's just how it is. There is an actual symbiotic relationship there. Which is probably, at least in part, how/why the Spurs/H-E-B commercials have engendered the cult-like appreciation and fanfare they have in San Antonio.
Sekou Smith of NBA.com talked about the Spurs Way in a piece he wrote during the long win-streak.
Duncan was, is and remains the secret to the Spurs' success formula. You have to start with superstars in the NBA. Toss in a Hall of Fame coach (Gregg Popovich), a couple more superstar players (in their own right) and a steady cast of young and veteran role players willing to sacrifice for the greater good and it's not hard to fathom a well-run franchise putting together years and years of quality, championship-caliber production.
There is no guarantee they make it this time around. There are no guarantees for the Spurs, Heat, Thunder, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers or anyone else deemed a contender at this stage of the season. But of all of the teams of that ilk, the Spurs are the only ones heading into the playoffs that actually look the part of a true champion on a nightly basis.
Even so, despite this remarkable consistency that has been on display since Tim Duncan's arrival as a game-changing centerpiece, the 2013-14 campaign stands out among the rest.
Despite issues that would derail the average team, San Antonio proved once again that it was anything but average.
Satchel Price of SB Nation in his "How the Spurs constantly change while staying the same."
At the NBA level, pretty much every player offers some skill that should help teams. Nobody gets into the league by accident. The fact that so many talented players fail at basketball's highest level reflects the importance of the role players around them.
And when it comes to the NBA, no team understands that better than the Spurs. They bring in new pieces and always find the best way to fit them in. That ability to change the roster while retaining continuity is the key to their success.
Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report says the Spurs are showing the league what a great team looks like.
The Spurs still pass up good shots for great ones. They still don't dribble without purpose. They still give help and expect to get it in return. They're still pounding the rock.
In other words, San Antonio hasn't reinvented the wheel. It has, however, been rolling smoothly for a ridiculously long time.
As much as anything, the Spurs are great now-and have been forever-because they care about the important things and seem practically allergic to the trivial ones. Fifteen straight 50-win seasons would be monumental to any other club, but the Spurs are too focused on winning another title to be bothered about it.
At the end of SB Nation's Sunday Shootaround there is an excellent section on the Spurs. You can find it by scrolling down and looking for the "The List"
The San Antonio Spurs don't get the credit they deserve. We all know this, but we rarely take the time to try and figure them out anymore. They're ageless, timeless and inevitable.
Their predictability is their greatest strength, but we've become so accustomed to the Spurs doing things correctly that we forget that it's still really hard to do all those things.
You can keep expecting Duncan to be great or you can marvel at his longevity. We choose to marvel.
Tom Ziller of SB Nation explains how the Spurs stay amazing
The story of the Spurs is not that they remain amazing despite getting old, it's that they stay young despite relying heavily on a superstar who is getting old.
Pop is right up there with Red Auerbach and Phil Jackson. Duncan is one of the best big men ever. (I'd put him in the top three with Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.) Of course the Spurs are awesome!
Ken Berger of CBS Sports wrote this outstanding piece on Monday. You need to read the whole thing.
But who really knows Pop? Who really knows the Spurs? They are a modern marvel, the living, breathing expression of sustained greatness -- yet their essence escapes us. Their success has spanned two generations of players who've passed through and adhered to the San Antonio Way. Theirs is a stubborn, unyielding (some would say boring) way of winning that has withstood the test of time and reinvented itself again and again with new supporting personnel producing the same methodical results.
"Players are human beings and they need to be aware that people care about them," Popovich said. "When somebody believes they're cared for, they're going to give more."
Stephen McPherson penned a nice article on Hardwood Paroxysm.
Yet the Spurs - in spite of their championship pedigree under Gregg Popovich - have reached a place where something as picayune as another ring is nearly beside the point when it comes to appreciating the team. As with nearly every season, Popovich should be a shoe-in for Coach of the Year.
Bill Simmons had Haralabos Voulgaris on last week's B.S. Report. I highly recommend listening to the whole thing. Haralabos has "skin in the game," and unlike the writers and pundits, there are consequences for being wrong. He's well spoken, intelligent, and I'd listen to him talk about ball for hours. At the 21 minute mark the talk turns to the Spurs and specifically Gregg Popovich. Again, I think you should listen to at least the part about Pop, but here's a quick excerpt from Bob the gambler:
Every bit of respect [Popovich] gets he deserves, and probably more.
He is the greatest coach the NBA has ever seen.
They spend 10 minutes on Pop and the Spurs and it's wonderful.
I'll leave you with two videos. ESPN ran a good origin piece on Manu Ginobili, and NBATV interviewed Tony Parker a little over a month ago.