By: Andrew Oak
Gregg Popovich has assembled a roster that not only has versatility but has also created somewhat of an emergence of superstars in the process. Using the term 'throw-ins' or 'depth guys' would be an insult to anyone who plays for the San Antonio Spurs. We all know that the Spurs have a very diverse roster that have people playing from all different countries and continents. There is one thing that holds true to all 15 players on this roster. Winning is everything.
The so called 'Big 3' from San Antonio have been together for quite a while now, 12 years in a matter of fact. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have been playing with each other through the best of times and worst of times. The fact that all three of these players have won three prior championships together really shows you how much the 'revenge factor' from last year really took place. Then you add in some young, all-star caliber players like Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard; include high caliber role players like Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter, plus Patty Mills, who ultimately became a game changer for the Spurs. Then you have yourself a very diverse and versatile team who can play against anybody in the league.
For me, the telling moment in this series came after the Game 4 beat down that the Spurs gave to the Heat. LeBron James was quoted at the press conference by saying 'At the end of the day, its just basketball'. Um....excuse me? Was i supposed to be "witnessing greatness" during the Heats magical run this year? Of course Im supposed to! So this isn't just basketball at the end of the day whether you play professionally or in a men's summer league, which is what I participate in. Every time I lose, I need to show my teammates that I can redeem myself in some type of manner. But since LeBron has been quoted before saying that he is trying to become the best basketball player to ever play the game, an NBA Finals performance like this was in fact the opposite of great. It was terrible as Charles Barkley likes to say. The 2014 Miami Heat is the only team in NBA history to lose all 4 NBA Finals game's by 15+ points. The fact that this series ended like this was a disgrace to any player wearing a Heat uniform.
LeBron, who isn't all to blame for this series loss by the way, now has a losing record (2-3) in the NBA Finals. He is 2-2 in Miami and lost his only NBA Finals appearance in Cleveland. To be the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), you have to have the will to win, no matter if it means putting the team on your back or making your team play and execute better. Michael Jordan is 6 for 6 in NBA Finals appearances and wins, Duncan is 5 for 6. Kobe Bryant is 5 for 7. LeBron is 2 for 5. Yuck. Just put that in perspective for a moment and see if Kobe Bryant would just say in an elimination game of the NBA Finals that if we lose, 'its still just basketball at the end of the day'. HELL NO. Wouldn't happen in a million years.
I haven't been alive to witness all of the dynasties in the 1960's, 70's or 80's, but I certainly know what a dynasty looks like and the Spurs are this era's dynasty. They have the one of the greatest coaches in Gregg Popovich and have had two superstars play and (potentially) retire with the same franchise that drafted them. David Robinson and Tim Duncan have combined for five championships in a span of 16 NBA seasons. Duncan, whose accounted for all five NBA Championships, has certainly solidified his status of being one of the greatest players to ever play the game. The 'Big Fundamental' has always been one of the more level headed players that the NBA has ever seen. Recently, most #1 overall draft picks are arrogant, cocky and somewhat immature. Tim Duncan was the complete opposite. He was a team player, always found a way to will his teammates and started acting like a professional from day one.
This Spurs franchise with Gregg Popovich at the helm has been one of the more prolific franchises in ANY sport. For Boston fans, this dominance reminds me of what the New England Patriots are doing at the moment. Just look at the similarities. They always win about 60 percent of their regular season games. Both teams are ALWAYS in the postseason (Besides the Matt Cassel year in 2008). They have had the same coach and same star player for a number of years. The most important thing is, they are always about keeping the same student mentality and coaching mechanics to ensure that the players are getting the right message at the end of a hard day's work. A physically taxing task for most professional athletes, yet these players enjoy the challenge and they want to be the last team standing when its all said and done.
The Ultimate Dream Team was assembled in San Antonio. A mix of great defenders, shooters, passers and team players all striving for the same goal, a NBA Championship. There was no rhyme or reason why this team became so great, but when great players mix with good players and have the ultimate team mentality no matter how the box score fills out each game, it is truly a blessing to watch. Gregg Popovich has instilled a winning mentality to his players that is almost impossible to get rid of, which makes this Dream Team's NBA Championship, a dream come true.