The San Antonio Spurs are on the verge of making history as they head into tomorrow night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City. A win at OKC would give the Spurs 11-consecutive playoff wins and 21 straight overall.
Despite what some “basketball experts” are saying now, no one saw this coming.
Now don’t get me wrong, it was no surprise that the Spurs would be good. Under Gregg Popovich, the Spurs are always good, and every few years, they are a legitimate title contender. Good is what we expect from San Antonio.
But not this type of good; this is a whole different level of good!
This has been the year that Gregg Popovich has proven to the world that he is the best coach/general manager the NBA has seen since Red Auerbach. “Coach Pop” has put together four NBA titles in his tenure in San Antonio and looks like he's on the verge of a fifth because no one is slowing down the team’s momentum.
Think about it. What was the talk about the Spurs at the beginning of the season? All I seem to remember is people saying how the Spurs were too old to compete in the West, how the condensed schedule would wear the team out and how the Spurs were particularly vulnerable because of their lack of depth.
The way “Pop” handled all of those question marks and concerns shows why he’s the best in the business.
Instead of running scared about the team’s age and condensed schedule, “Pop” simply looked at his team and adapted his approach. There were nights when the Spurs needed to rest one or more of their core players, so they rested. It didn’t matter what the complaints were. The Spurs were more than willing to deal with a little media whining if it got them closer to a title.
Also, the job done to bolster the San Antonio bench was simply masterful. The team went from having questions about how shallow the bench talent pool was to being 10 to 12 deep. The Spurs rescued castoffs like Danny Green and Boris Diaw, drafted a key contributor in Kawhi Leonard and traded for a tough, championship winning veteran in Stephen Jackson.
They also created and defined roles for players like Gary Neal and Tiago Splitter to excel in which greatly bolstered their bench strength. This was all done without busting their budget.
Add in the continuing contributions of Tim Duncan, the stellar play of point guard Tony Parker and the totally clutch play of Manu Ginobili and this was a team poised to do great things.
But the root of it all is the coach.
I remember when the Spurs were looking for a coach and Gregg Popovich chose himself for the job. I ridiculed the idea that he was the best choice for the job, even making up a little paraphrase for the moment: “After considerable time and thought, I have decided that the best choice as coach of the Spurs is…ME!”
Now, four titles later and with a team seemingly on the verge of another title, I’m still wiping that particular egg from my face.
The Spurs just keep on winning.