My favorite NBA team by far has been the San Antonio Spurs the past 20 plus years.
They have been the one NBA team that sign, trade and draft in the following order. 1. Good human beings 2. High Basketball IQ’s and 3. players with basketball skills whereas the other 29 teams usually go the opposite way of the Spurs 1. athleticism 2. basketball skills 3. basketball smarts and 4. Good human beings.
This philosophy has been the trademark of the Spurs for the past 20 years with the most 50plus game win seasons and 5 NBA championships and has been backed by the team owner and administration. Consistent is the best word to describe the Spurs.
Having been the most successful franchise over the past 20 years I have often wondered why other NBA general managers. presidents and coaches haven’t followed suit.
Well, finally one has and it only took 20 or more years. Boston’s Danny Ainge figured it out and hired a college D-1 coach from a non big time major NCAA D-1 program when he hired Brad Stevens the very successful coach at Butler University. Stevens had taken Butler to consecutive final fours and came within a hoop of winning the championship the first of two years playing in the final when they lost to Duke missing a long mid court shot at the buzzer.
Stevens coached his Butler team with the same philosophy the “Pop” Popovich, the Spurs long time successful coach, as it appeared he recruited the same way and order that the Spurs do.
Stevens followed Popovich’s basketball philosophy having players that are coachable, also had basketball players playing basketball like the Spurs, not athletes playing basketball. They played the game from the shoulders up. They used their high basketball IQ’s to make better on court basketball decisions then their opponents as the other NBA teams relied on the athleticism of their players by playing the game from the shoulders down which leads to poor shot selection, more turnovers and fouls.
The Spurs players also were very coachable and quickly learned and accepted their different individual roles to make the franchise very successful.
Despite only having 4 returning players from last years roster and losing their big time player, Gordon Hayward during the first 5 minutes of the first game of the season the Celtics, lead by Stevens lost their first 2 games and then ran off 16 consecutive wins and are currently in first place in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference with a 22-4 record and the only NBA team to reach 20 wins so far this season.
Meanwhile the Spurs are in second place in the Western Conferences Southwest Division at 16-8 and they are still playing without their best player, Kawi Leonard, who has been out on season so far with a quadricep injury.
I now will watch the Celtics as well as the Spurs as they have become only the second team and first team other than the Spurs to use this team oriented philosophy.
Hats off to Danny Ainge for becoming the first NBA general manager to figure out the Spurs overall consistent success and be willing to hire a young college coach that had that same type of Spurs philosophy and has turned the Celtics franchise around after his first season of 25 wins to where they have been the past 3 seasons and where they are today.
Wonder how long it will be before NBA (NOT BASKETBALL ANYMORE…..FOR 28 OF THE 30 FRANCHISES) franchise figures out the Spurs and Celtics success is based on their basketball philosophies.
You really have to give Coach Brad Stevens the credit of taking a group of players (11 of 15) who where not on the Boston roster last season and turned them into a real contender and did so after losing such an important part of their roster when Hayward was injured and out for the season.
Nice to see that a team with not a lot of athleticism being able to beat teams that are more athletic than they are by having basketball players playing basketball beating the other 28 franchises who have better athletes playing basketball. Can’t wait for the Spurs-Celtics games this season.
In their first meeting of this season the Celtics beat the Spurs 108-94 at Boston after losing 11 consecutive games to the Spurs at Boston.
IN FACT, we get a chance tomorrow, Friday night, December 8th when the Celtics travel to San Antonio for a 9:30pm tap off.
We will be watching the way that real basketball was designed to be played (like the Celtics of the 50’s and 60’s and their domination of the NBA for all those championship seasons). A game of skill not of athletic skills that the NBA features.
Rooting for a San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics championship NBA series in June.