The Modern Day NBA Dynasty
The second person responsible for the Spurs dynasty success is the man who has been the head coach of the team for the past 17 seasons, Gregg Popovich. Popovich is the longest tenured coach in any of the four major sports, further proving that he is one of the best coaches in not only the NBA, but in all of sports. Popovich has one of the most impressive resumes in the league for coaches as he has been named Coach of the Year two times (2003 and 2012), he has led San Antonio to the leagues best record four times (1999, 2001, 2003, and 2012), he has the third highest regular season and playoff winning percentage at .680 and .605 respectively, and most impressively, he has led the Spurs to four NBA Championships and is the only active head coach with multiple championships. Pop, as he is called by many people, has managed to create a near flawless system where he almost always gets the most out of his players in an environment that players love playing in. He is known to be equally tough on all of his players ensuring that the teams most talented player is working as hard as everyone else at improving his game. A great example of Popovich proving his dominance in coaching is how the Spurs came within one rebound of winning the title last year when their three best players (Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili) were all over 30 and two of them over 36. In order for his stars to be ready for the playoffs, Popovich rests his players for certain games during the season, allowing his aging Big Three to be fully ready to play all games during the playoff. This system has prevented Duncan from breaking down late in his career like other players have and remain capable of leading his team to a championship.
The third person who I have accredited the long-term success of the San Antonio Spurs is franchise player and future Hall of Famer, Tim Duncan. Ever since being drafted number one overall in 1997, Duncan has gone above and beyond of expectations. During his first six seasons, Duncan teamed up with another big-man who was also a former number one overall pick, David Robinson. The duo became known as the Twin Towers and lead the Spurs to two championships, the later one coming in Robinson's final year in the league. The only reason why the Spurs were able to draft Duncan was because Robinson missed most of the previous season. The Spurs and Duncan were lucky to have found each other. The Spurs managed to win the lottery despite having the third worst record in the league and draft a future hall of famer who would lead them to several championships. As for Duncan, he was able to be drafted to a team with someone who could be the perfect mentor to him, in Robinson. By the time that Duncan arrived in San Antonio, Robinson was already a proven star. He was a MVP, a defensive player of the year, a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, and a seven time All-Star. He was the model player for Duncan to emulate his game on and off the court based on and Robinson was not the least bit hesitant in relinquishing his scoring in favor of Duncan. The reason why this worked so well was that both players had the same goal in mind of doing what was best for the team. This initial relationship was crucial to the Spurs success down the road because Duncan knew how to pass some of the torch down to players such as Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker without having any unnecessary drama. This new found trio of Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker has been able to keep the Spurs at the top of the NBA ever since Robinson left, winning two more championships and making three finals appearances. Duncan will go down as one of the greatest power forwards to play the game. His legacy will be that of a dominant two-way player, averaging a double-double, who was able to lead his team to victory in the big game all while keeping the same look of his face. Duncan is a once in a generation type of player who found the place he was supposed to be in San Antonio and never looked back.
There it is, the three pillars a modern sports franchise needs to be successful: an owner, a coach, and a star player. It seems so simple when you read that sentence, but it could not be harder. The San Antonio Spurs are in their own league at the moment as they look to push for a 5th championship in the Duncan era. The Heat will be favorites once again, and the getting out of the West this year will be tougher than last year with Westbrook healthy, Harden and Dwight teaming up in Houston, the Clippers finally having a competent coach, and another year under the Warriors belt, but as we have learned over the past 17 years, never count out the Spurs.