A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Spurs’ Quest Should Serve Notice That This Franchise Is Doing It “Right”
SAN ANTONIO,TX— – A friend of mine told me a weird analogy when it came to how the San Antonio Spurs, as an organization, is seen through some sports fans eyes. To him and many others, they see an organization that is doing all the right things and they are probably the closest thing to a modern day dynasty.
“Greg think of how the Atlanta Braves, the San Francisco 49ers, Boston Celtics and other pro teams were constructed in the past,” my friend told me one day. “Even though for so many of these ‘dynasties’ those days are long gone, the Spurs have weathered the storm of financial change and player movement with a grace and ease that is unbeknownst to many. If they win their third title in six year span, they will indeed be a dynasty in many people’s eyes.” That’s high praise coming from someone who isn’t a Spurs fan but just a fan of sports in general but he may actually be on to something. Even with the ESPN the Magazine story coming out earlier this week, many have known that the Spurs organization is as classy as they come. But don’t think for a minute that the men and women who make up this organization haven’t come without paying a price. To become what many want perceive as a 21st century dynasty, sometimes you have to have some serious battle scars that formulate your current mindset to doing things ‘right’.
FROM THIS PERSPECTIVE, MANY MAY NOT BE OFF ON THE DYNASTY TALK I guess when I look at what my friend said and then look at the situation from my perspective; I can see that he indeed does have a point. I look fondly back on my dozen seasons covering this team because I know that there definitely have been some rough roads traveled. From 1993 to present day, this franchise has had two general managers and three head coaches. The general managers at the time were Bob Bass and Gregg Popovich with the head coaches being John Lucas, Bob Hill and Pop himself. Now you know who is the last man standing. When you look at what Popovich has done in his tenure as the lead man on the basketball side, you can understand why many want to start putting the dynasty tag on this franchise. The yo-yo effect goes like this: you have a team that wins 62 wins one season and loses in the Conference Finals to an eight seed. The next season you see that team just plummet to the reverse of the previous record where a head coach is removed. The franchise gets the first pick of the draft and immediately begins to show signs of improvement and within two years of that draft they win their first title. Just four seasons later the franchise wins a second title on the last year of their ‘franchise’ player at the time retiring and now two years after that feat, the team is poised again to claim a third. Is this a dynasty in the making? I guess the answer would be yes if those were the parameters for such a classification.
For the outside observer it probably seems to be that those are the parameters that they are looking at. National talk show hosts are already claiming this team as the champions for this season but the first game for the NBA Finals is June 9th. On the sports talk shows where I am a show contributor, the talk is every bit about how this team has what it takes to unseat either Detroit as the champion or to keep Shaquile O’Neal from getting his fourth title. That’s high praise that I am sure the franchise reads as a whole but individually they know that the task isn’t completed. Yet what I have explained to so many on the radio and television mediums is that this franchise is indeed special because as Ric Bucher so eloquently stated in his magazine piece, this team is a family. They are a cohesive unit that knows how to rely on each other and for the opponents that they face; this is indeed a scary situation to be in.
The dynasty talk may be the most positive thing that has come out of San Antonio in some time but I think before anyone start saying that Pop, R.C. Buford and others have unseated the Los Angeles Lakers under Phil Jackson as a dynasty, let’s all remember that this team has to win this last series. And even then I don’t think I would want to give them a dynasty title but I don’t see anything wrong with folks saying that franchise has done the right thing and that’s why they are successful.
SPEAKING OF DOING IT RIGHT…CONGRATS TO ‘BIG’ MIKE BROWN In keeping with the theme of this piece, congratulations go out to Mike Brown and his family. Spurs fans will remember ‘Big Mike’ as the assistant who helped keep Stephen Jackson on an even keel while he was playing for the Spurs. Well Brown has finally gotten his first NBA coaching job and that’s with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Brown has also decided to continue a Spurs tradition by following Gregg Popovich’s route for success and lured Hank Egan out of retirement and back onto the sideline bench as his first assistant.
Brown is one of the classiest young coaches in the league and I’m hoping he continues to surround himself with some great offensive and defensive minds. I’ve long been an Eric Mussleman guy and maybe Brown would add him to the mix but for the Cavaliers and their fans, what they are getting is a coach who is about detail and he knows how to win. Not slighting Paul Silas by any stretch, if the Cavs’ ownership allows Brown to do his job, not only will James and company be back in the playoffs next season but also they may actually be one of the teams to beat in the Eastern Conference.
The success of Brown has a great foundation because he has learned from both Egan and Popovich during his time with the Spurs. Ironically it was Egan that taught Popovich how to become the coach he is today in many regards and Egan also helped Brown get to where he is today. The Cavaliers are going to be very fortunate to have a young coach with a stellar coaching lineage as Brown but having such resources available is going to come at a price. For Brown to truly be successful, Dan Gilbert will have to find a general manager that can remove some players and add some players that will complement James’ game. If Gilbert can do that and let Brown and his staff do their job, he will indeed have made a wise investment for years to come.