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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Jersey Over Apron: Pop's Old Secret Recipe

Within the first half of the season, media coverage of the NBA has largely focused attention on headlines and stories involving a relatively small group of teams. Whether it is the returning world champion Golden State Warriors, the healthy Cleveland Cavaliers or struggling large-market-city teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and the retiring Black Mamba, some NBA teams just don’t tend to get that much airtime. I want to correct that right now and dedicate this column to the veteran San Antonio Spurs, an organization which has not missed playoff contention with current Head Coach Gregg Popovich and has won five NBA championships within the recent decade. Under the quiet but charismatic general, Coach Pop, the Spurs’ ability to remain championship contenders year after year gives testament to a small market team’s ability to remain successful in a constantly changing and aging NBA.

Currently the Spurs are second in the Western Conferencefollowing the Warriors, and are first in the Southwest Division for the NBA. Now this wouldn’t be a true sports column if I didn’t include at least one comparison, so bear with me. Notably the Warriors' current race to break the best season record includes a mere four losses, which is of course a historic feat. In comparison, however, the Spurs only have eight losses, only a four-game difference with the Warriors halfway through this season. But what is so striking about the under-the-radar Spurs is not only their record or past accomplishments, but also the aging team’s ability to remain championship contenders year after year.

For one, Coach Pop has seemingly fostered a team culture with a consistent winning formula of professionalism and maturity. At the base of the Spurs success is future Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan, who is undoubtedly one of the league's most consistent centers while also defying father time at 39 years of age. Then we have his international guard counterparts, Ginobili and Parker, both also in their late 30’s bringing veteran playoff experience under Popovich’s system. These three ingredients continue to be the key to the Spurs' winning recipe in the Western Conference. They’re kind of like the old timers at your local gym who don’t look like much of a challenge, but after a game of pick up you’re quickly embarassed. The Spurs continue to remind younger NBA teams game after game that though their bodies might not be as quick or youthful, their great coaching and high basketball IQ will get them the win.

Though the grandeur of the Spurs will always be associated with their “Big Three” the future seems just as bright with the rise of shooter Danny Green, the addition of LaMarcus Aldridge and specifically the emergence of 2016 All-Star Kawhi Leonard. For such a quiet team of old veterans, Leonard fits right in. His reigning Defensive Player of the Year prowess and recent rise in offensive efficiency again provides testament to the Spurs “old-timer” mantra. Work hard, stay under the radar, listen to Pop and win games. This playoff season, look out for the Spurs to remind NBA whippersnapper teams of the timeless saying: "respect your elders."

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