If America has ever had an example of a sport's team that stands for the values the country claims to embody it is the San Antonio Spurs. When it comes to working hard, using great judgement and team work the San Antonio Spurs have demonstrated throughout this season, with their 19 straight victories, there 2 games to 0 lead against OC, that their success deserves to be recognized for an immaculate combination of teamwork, leadership, intelligence, and excellence.
The Spurs have however never been "America's Dream Team." This year they have tied for the best record in the league, and last year they were the best in the West. They received little recognition for their 1999 run for the championship, nor in their follow ups in 2003, 2005, and 2007.
Want to talk more numbers? The San Antonio Spurs' have the best field goal percentage in the league. The Spurs ended the season 2'nd in overall scoring and first in offensive efficiency.
The San Antonio Spurs have had a 15-year run with their amazingly talented and genius coach Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan -- yet, still, the San Antonio Spurs have failed to capture the imagination of the American public.
This year’s San Antonio Spurs' team is perhaps the best they have ever fielded yet they have earned even less recognition than their previous teams. Somewhat amusingly, they have demolished the most favored teams in the country. Go ahead, say it or think it -- "it's because the Spurs' style of basketball is boring." This may have been accurate in their 2005 championship team -- a slow style, defensive team -- solid perimeter rotations and Tim Duncan’s ability to control the paint.
This year's Spurs' team is perhaps the strongest team the NBA has ever seen. Even with Duncan’s age the Spurs have put together "a team" that is unmatched in intelligence, speed, depth, accuracy of passing, unselfishness and sportmanship. Coach Popovich's system and a culture can no longer be dismissed. Every team in the league undoubtedly would love to be in the Spur's position - yet they can't. They don't have what it takes. Yet Popovich, like the Spurs receives little recognition among the greats that have coached in the league.
Today's San Antonio Spurs is a powerhouse that plays the game as beautifully as any team that has ever set foot on a court. Their play is a combination of crisp, brilliant ball movement and accurate shooting.
The Spurs play the game in a way that makes it feel as though one is watching "the beautiful game." They create opportunities that fluster opponents and they then destroy their captive by creating one more astounding move that demoralizes theiroppositions and provide fans with unseen spectacles.
The Spurs unlike many team’s have a sole dedication to winning. No one on the team is about blaming his coach or rrying to get him fired. No one on the team wants to be the "super-star" or "super-ego."
Perhaps this is why the Spurs fail to capture the attention of the media and of basketball fans. The "real" America comes from "the American Dream" -- you know the one -- where we credit the lone individual, such as Jordan, Bryant, or Bird -- where he alone takes all the credit or all the blame.
You won't find that with the Spurs. There is never a fight about whether this is still Tim Duncan's team, or Manu Ginobilis', or Tony Parkers'. There are no contract disputes. The team is managed and led by their respected coach to succeed and win.
What's amazing, and should not be quickly dismissed is tht no one on the team has been eager to to leave for the lime-light in L.A. or N.Y.C. Rodman perhaps couldn't handle being part of "a team." He didn't last long. He obviously needed to stand out or step down. Someone must have told him, "there is no I in team" and he got it.
For all the leadership books, many of them use sports as examples, and America's "business leaders" there appears to be a reluctance to want to witness excellenct team-work in reality. Very few business books mention Popovich's commitment to excellence, or the team's dedication to team, and "yet our leader amongst leaders" poke fun of the "little white guy who the team hated." Where are the L.A. Lakers and their big market, big spender big mouths now?
Denying reality doesn't cause it to cease to exist. The San Antonio Spurs' have proven, time after time, that a long-term commitment to excellence, that isn't just words, but deeds, breeds success.
America though wants our dynasties packaged with drama, fights, bad-boys, in-fighting and soap operah like behaviors. Drama sells, the media makes the market and most sport's commentators and fans would rather watch a single guy soar to new heights or crash like a downed plane. This draws attention.
If you are a sport's fan, a leader, or anyone that wants to witness how real men work together and display excellence in team work with intelligent decision making while under pressure, then do yourself a favor and watch the Spurs tonight, Thursday, May 31st at 9 EST play OC.
Love them or hate them or don't give two-hoots about them, they will teach you a lesson in team work.
So while watching the Spurs' may give you pause to think that they deserve the title of "America's Team" it's highly unlikely that any player on the San Antonio Spurs' team cares what you think.