I’ve been a Spurs fan for over 20 years, since the days of David “The Admiral” Robinson. Drafting Tim Duncan and watching those two big men play together was fun. The four championships the franchise won since were all memorable occasions.
But this one feels so much better. Here’s why:
1. The Teamwork
Anyone who watched the games immediately noticed the difference in the teamwork between the Heat and the Spurs. Where the Heat had isolation plays, long periods of one player dribbling, and heavy dependence on their stars, the Spurs employed crisp passing, moving without the ball, and reliance on the whole team.
It was amazing that all of the players on the court and on the bench knew their role and played accordingly. Lebron played an amazing series (an amazing season!). But in the end, a great player cannot outperform a great team for very long.
2. The Multi Generational Effort
When Duncan and Robinson played together, you could clearly see The Admiral making an effort to mentor Duncan. He kept taking Duncan under his wing, and when the rookie began to outperform him he bowed out gracefully, while staying supportive.
There was a beautiful moment after the game where Timmy embraced his mentor again.
Now, Timmy is 38 years old and the way the Spurs have celebrated the growth of their younger players is so encouraging. Last year, their young players like Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard made critical mistakes down the stretch. But because they were trusted, they came back even stronger this year. The future seems bright for them.
Check out how the Spurs cheer for the 22 year old when he wins the Finals MVP. We should all cheer for the next generation that way.
3. The Humility
Most of all, I loved the humility on the Spurs in the entire series. It takes humility to trust your team. It takes humility to accept your role. It takes humility to stay hungry after a huge blow out win. It takes humility to listen to your coach.
Jeff Van Gundy, while commentating for Game 4, noted with amazement how the Spurs players did not bicker for more playing time, but instead showed the same enthusiasm on the bench as on the floor.
After their historical Game 3 performance, where the Spurs made 90% of their shots in the 2nd quarter, Coach Popovich said, “They’ll never shoot like that ever again.” He wasn’t being negative. He was realistic. He knew that it was only a lucky break and that hard work was still necessary to win.
To resist the temptation to celebrate temporary success while pressing toward your long term goal takes humility.
So congratulations to the San Antonio Spurs! And from all basketball fans, thank you for showing us a beautiful picture of how the game is to be played.