A Touch of Grey: The Spurs Continue to Defy Father Time

Flying under the radar, but soaring over the league in the standings – a very familiar scenario for the San Antonio Spurs.
It’s also a situation which Coach Popovich and company are most comfortable with (or at least used to), quietly getting it done the right way. It reflects the team’s demeanour and even their style of basketball – non-flashy.

With neither hardly ever any in-house drama nor any meddlesome media spotlight, the Spurs are repeatedly labelled “boring”, “old-school” and just plain old – year after year. And yet, the ‘core-four” (Parker, Duncan, Ginobli, and Coach Popovich) continue to epitomize the definition of consistency. At the half way mark of the season, they are perched comfortably on top in the Western Conference amidst other, more dynamic and talked about title contenders.

The most recent opponent to fall victim to their onslaught is the LA Clippers, a victory which showcased excellence and dominance. The Clippers may be the more exciting, and press covered team, but they were humbled by unwavering execution and unrivalled chemistry.

What could be driving the Spurs’ success yet again this season, aside from the apparent winning-gene encoded into the Spurs franchise? There are two prime reasons that stand out: First, a Frenchman by the name Tony Parker, who continues to improve his already stellar game, a trait which Tim Duncan has always done. Parker is averaging 21 ppg, dishing out just under 8 dimes a game, and has been shooting a red-hot 54% from the field this season. Parker has added a more reliable jump-shot to his arsenal, which is making him a straight up nightmare for opponents. More importantly, he has learned to lead the team by example with grace and class the way Duncan did for many years.

Then there is the incomparable Coach Popovich.

The Spurs have pulled out multiple wins which came down to the wire, in the form of a game winning shot. These clutch plays were not the ones we normally think of, with Kevin Durant or Kobe Bryant bringing up the ball and draining it from near half court. They were all well-drawn up plays with the ball ending up in the hands of a designated Spurs player. Pop continues to have complete control and respect of his ball club, and he too trusts and looks out for his guys. He has demonstrated this either by trusting a role player to take and make the game winning basket or by blatantly resting his star players during long stretches of games (and faces the music for it from the League Office).

Popovich equally reflects the manner of Spurs basketball. For example, during this year’s All-Star game starting line-up announcement, every player came out with some swagger and flash. Then they announced Popovich, the Western Conference coach, who came out in an almost amusing fashion – a brisk walk, head down, and arms to the side. In short, he wasn’t in his element and wanted to get down to business.

The Spurs were the butt of many jokes before the season started, creaking bones and all. However, Parker and Duncan have displayed the steady focus once again, putting the Spurs in a position to have the last laugh in June.

As for Coach Pop, nothing seems to faze him, much like the dynastic franchise with which he has cultivated a pure winning mentality.