Roger Federer and San Antonio Spurs: Comparing Their Greatness
Two of the biggest events of the sports season are taking place right now in the 2013 NBA playoffs and the 2013 French Open.
Generally, basketball and tennis are considered to be very different sports. The former is a team sport while the latter is an individual sport, however, that doesn't mean that there can't be a strong relation between the two.
Both the San Antonio Spurs and men's tennis icon Roger Federer are competitive on their respective courts. The Spurs advanced to the NBA Finals on Monday while the Swiss tennis star is the favorite to reach the finals at Roland Garros.
The Spurs are valid in France as well when you consider that two of their key players are Frenchmen Tony Parker and Boris Diaw, bringing this correlation full circle.
Let's take a look at the similarities between the career and personality of Federer compared to the Spurs in the era of Greg Popovich, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.
Class, Class, Class
When you think about both Roger Federer and the current San Antonio Spurs organization, the word that comes to mind most, besides "winning", is class.
In September 2011, Federer was named the second-most trusted and respected public personality in the world, according to a survey conducted by the Republican Institute. He trailed only South African political leader Nelson Mandela on the list, a testament to Federer's charity work off the court and how he goes about his business.
The Swiss maestro has his own foundation that gives back to kids in need. He has also won numerous other sportsmanship awards throughout his storied career.
The Spurs, led by head coach Greg Popovich, are a model of sportsmanship as well. Long-time star and big man Tim Duncan is all about class, both on and off the court.
The Spurs' run has been predicated by the strong character of everyone involved. They are an unselfish group, playing as a complete unit at all times.
Perhaps the biggest epitome of this is Manu Ginobili's willingness to come off the bench throughout his career. He has only started 326 of 747 career games, even though he has been one of the top players in the league.
The career paths of both the Spurs and Roger Federer, in terms of how their greatness has matched up, are also pretty similar.
The Spurs' three NBA titles came between 2003 and 2007. That is really when Duncan and company where at their best, winning at least 57 regular-season games during their run.
Federer's best years came during the same stretch as the Spurs, as he won 49 of his 76 career titles in those years, including 12 of his 17 career Grand Slam singles titles.
Consistency and Longevity
Right now, Greg Popovich is the longest-termed head coach with the same team in North American major sports.
Meanwhile, Roger Federer has not missed a Grand Slam event since the turn of the century.
Those are just two of many facts that sum up the consistency of both the Spurs and Federer over the past decade or so. Here are some others:
- San Antonio has won at least 50 games every year in this era, always finishing first or second in the division and reaching the playoffs
- Federer has made at least the quarterfinals in every Grand Slam event since the 2004 French Open
- Duncan has averaged at least 15 points, nine rebounds and 1.5 blocks in every season except 2010-11 since entering the league
- Federer won at least four titles each season between 2003 and 2012, reaching at least one Grand Slam final in each year
While both entities have had an era in which they dominated each of their sports, they have still been able to stay relevant for many years following that stretch.
Both Associated with "The Big 3"
Tim Duncan, Manu Ginoboli and Tony Parker are referred to as "The Big 3" for San Antonio, beginning a movement of top NBA teams that have come to rely on a group of three stars.
That formula started with the Spurs in the 2002-03 season, in Ginobili's first year in the league. They won the title right away that year, and haven't looked back since.
Roger Federer, meanwhile, is also part of a "Big Three". Joining fellow stars Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, Federer has helped the sport of tennis enjoy one of its most successful runs, which has been dubbed as another golden era for the game.
One of that "Big Three" has won every Grand Slam played except for five since Federer won his first at the 2003 Wimbledon Championships. All three are bound for the International Tennis Hall of Fame and are already considered among the greatest of all time.
Adapt to Change and Overcome Adversity
In order to be a winner in professional sports, a team or athlete has to be able to handle adversity, something that the Spurs and Roger Federer have been among the best at doing in recent memory due to their hunger to win.
Since winning the NBA title in 2007, the Spurs have had their fair share of disappointments. Other than their Big 3, they have had a lot of roster turnover, but were able to overcome that to finally reach another NBA Finals this season.
Duncan had his best season in quite some time, if not his best ever when you consider his remarkably improved free-throw percentage. Parker has gotten better every year and was an MVP candidate for much of this season before getting hurt late in the season.
The 2012 season for Federer was much like the rejuvenated Spurs' 2012-13 season. He won his first grand slam title in over 24 months at Wimbledon last summer and climbed back to No. 1 in the world rankings.
The emergence of Novak Djokovic in 2011, combined with Rafael Nadal's stronger play outside of the clay courts, put a halt to Federer's previous dominance. Federer, however, refused to give in, showing that you can never count out the heart of a champion.
Sit Back and Enjoy
Considering the way in which the Spurs are now constructed and Roger Federer's advancing age, both are at the twilight of their careers. It's anyone's guess as to how much longer they will continue to be relevant, let alone keep winning titles.
With that said, the best thing to do is just sit back and enjoy it while it lasts.
San Antonio will be playing in the NBA Finals, most likely against the stalwart Miami Heat, while Federer remains a contender in the French Open and any other event he enters.
Federer and the Spurs really are sports at their best, both representing strong character athletes giving it all they have, even if Father Time is fighting them to the very end.