San Antonio Spurs: How Are They Still a Dominant Team in the NBA?

Andres CordobaContributor IIIApril 23, 2012

Even after fourteen years Tim Duncan can still hang with the best of them.
Even after fourteen years Tim Duncan can still hang with the best of them.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In sports history we've had many dominant teams like the NBA's San Antonio Spurs. The Islanders of the 1980-1984 seasons won four straight championships, The Celtics from 1958-1966 won an incredible eight straight championships, only dipping below a .700 winning percentage once and the New York Yankees from 1949-1953 won five straight World Series championships. 

Those dynasties are incredible and in no way am I taking away from then, but these dynasties occurred before things like free agency. Players leave the second they see money and nowadays with media coverage at a frenzy, as soon as a team wins one championship the media asks how will they win another.

That is why the Spurs are such an incredible anomaly. In the 1996-1997 season the Spurs finished third worst in the league with a 20-62 record, and thanks to the NBA lottery, they got the first pick in the draft. Little did they know this would forever change their franchise's history. With the first pick they chose the Naismith College Player of the Year, Tim Duncan.

In his first season with the Spurs in 1997-1998, Tim Duncan teamed up with David Robinson to get a 56-26 record and make the postseason before being knocked out in the second round. Even though that season wasn't a championship season, the Spurs' fortunes were forever changed and from then on they became a dynasty.

Since 1997 the Spurs have made the postseason every year for the last fourteen years and are heading into their fifteenth straight year of making the postseason. In those years the Spurs have won nine division titles, four conference titles and four championships.

How do they stay contenders every year, and why can't other teams copy them? One big thing is they have one solid franchise player that doesn't get injured often and is consistently the best in the league at his position.

Tim Duncan is currently 35 years old and still a perennial all-star—he's made the all-star game 13 times in all of his 14 seasons. He's only had one season in which he was out for most of the year, which was 1998. With a star franchise player the Spurs just build around Duncan, this ensures that  the Spurs never have to worry about one player who will not consistently score. 

Another big thing is they have had the same coach since 1996. Gregg Popovich is a future hall of fame coach and is currently the longest tenured coach in the NBA. He  won Coach of the Year in 2003 and has been a rock for the organization and constantly been there for the Spurs. The consistency and stability of having the same coach for years has been beneficial to the players.

The third and final thing is luck. In order to keep any dynasty afloat, you can have great players and a great coach but without luck it's impossible to succeed. Tim Duncan has only been injured once in his career, which is extremely lucky. When the Spurs picked Tony Parker with the 28th pick in the draft, who knew he would mesh so well with Tim Duncan? After David Robinson retired, the team could easily have fallen apart but somehow Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan bonded together to create the big three they still are today.

Here we are fourteen years after the Spurs first picked Tim Duncan, and the Spurs are still a dominant team. They are currently only one-and-a-half games ahead the much younger Oklahoma City Thunder and are gearing up for a playoff run. Tim Duncan is still just as hungry as he was as a rookie and is looking for his fifth championship.