San Antonio Spurs: Where 2012 Team Would Rank Among Best Ever If They Win Title

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2012

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 29:  Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts after making a three-pointer in the fourth quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 29, 2012 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

After winning 20 straight games—including 10 in the postseason—even the most cautious of San Antonio Spurs fans are surely starting to wonder just how history will remember this team.

There's no question the 2012 edition of head coach Gregg Popovich's club is an exceptional one. If they win a title, they'll almost certainly rank as the best team this franchise has ever fielded. But would it rank as one of the best teams ever?

At times, it's certainly looked like they should—at least according to the iconic David Robinson's completely unbiased opinion:

Very impressive @spurs win. The execution in the 2nd and 3rd quarters was probably the best I've seen by any team. Tony was a machine.

— David Robinson (@DavidtheAdmiral) May 30, 2012

Opinion aside, this club's sheer dominance of a talented Western Conference should also speak volumes.

Before dismissing sweeps of the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers, it's worth remembering a few things about those early tests.

The Jazz looked poised to do exactly what the Memphis Grizzlies did to San Antonio last season. Sure, it's an eighth-seeded team, but it's an eighth-seeded team with a platoon of young, big guys in the paint. Conventional wisdom suggests that's precisely the kind of team that would give the Spurs trouble.

It didn't.

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Meanwhile, the Clippers came off a closely contested seven-game series against the very talented Grizzlies, a team that itself appeared destined to once again pull some upsets and mix it up with the league's contenders. Instead, Los Angeles planned to take advantage of its MVP-caliber point guard and the ever-explosive Blake Griffin in a bid to send San Antonio's aging veterans back to their small market for the rest of the summer.

That didn't happen either.

Surely the Oklahoma City Thunder would be a different story—only so far, it hasn't been.

After taking just nine games to plow through the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers (playoff stalwarts in their own rights), Scott Brooks' supremely talented team has run into a wall.

For all the accomplishments, you have to actually see this team at its best to appreciate just how dominant it is.

The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls will almost certainly remain the greatest team in recent memory—if not ever. And, the 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers may be the most exciting team to watch. But, it's hard to think of any team since the 1971-72 Lakers that won with such fundamentally sound, team basketball—and did so with such regularity.

Given the superstars and explosive athletes that have come to typify this league, the Spurs' success isn't only anomalous—it's a testament to just how well they do what they do.

As impossible as it may be to compare teams from different eras, these Spurs could very well join the 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers as one of the greatest teams all time and almost certainly the two best teams since the legendary Chicago Bulls called it quits.

Even if this team doesn't win it all, it certainly deserves to be remembered.