The Spurs continue their quiet greatness
They may not get the hype and attention that other dynasties have, but if the Spurs make the finals this year they have to be considered in the conversation as one of the best teams ever.
The numbers alone stand for themselves. Since drafting Tim Duncan 16 years ago, when the dynasty began, the Spurs have won more games than any other team in the league, four championships and advanced deep into the playoffs almost every year.
Unlike other great dynasties, the Spurs have adopted the personality of their star player. Duncan is humble almost to a fault, never doing anything to draw attention to himself. He thrives in anonymity, choosing to compete with dignity and poise rarely seen in professional sports these days. But what that personality lacks in headline generation, it makes up for in sustained greatness.
The thing is, there are two types of greatness. One is short term greatness, athletes who have historically great talent, show it for a short period of time, but for whatever reason (usually injury), we don't get to know whether or not they would have been able to stay at an elite level for a long time. Think guys like Bo Jackson or even Marcus Dupree.
But what those two have in common is their greatness was on a football field, a place where the wear and tear of the game makes it exceedingly difficult to stay on top for years and years at a time. Basketball is different. If you take care of yourself and continue to evolve your game as your physical skills diminish, you can maintain your greatness for long stretches.
There have been plenty of teams to dominate for short periods of time, and even that's worthy of great praise, but to be dominant for over a decade is downright amazing. Really, only the Boston Celtics of the 1960s and early 70s can match the current era Spurs in the longevity of their stay at the top of the NBA world. And that was in a much different era, one in which there were less competitive teams in the league and far less player movement.
The Spurs have retooled their roles players over and over again, consistently finding a way to make the new guys work in the framework that Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich has created. Where once it was Robert Horry and Bruce Bowen hitting threes and playing good defense, now it's Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green filling those roles. But in the last few years it didn’t look like the Spurs were going to find a way to make it work again.