The NBA Finals are set and I can’t wait. Despite Lance Stephenson‘s best efforts, the Pacers blew the series (see what I did there?) and the Heat rolled to their fourth straight title series. The Spurs and Thunder played a bizarre series out West in which the home team completely dominated the first five games until last night’s overtime thriller that sent the Spurs back to the Finals for a second consecutive season.
What a great night for March Madness, huh, folks? As predicted right here on Wayniac Nation yesterday, the #7 seed UConn Huskies will face off against the #8 seed Kentucky Wildcats. Two legendary programs will be going for the National Championship and all of the glory of cutting down the nets in North Texas.
Speaking of legendary programs, I’m shifting gears to the NBA for this Sunday’s blog post. My brother text me a question that I have been pondering since he asked it of me a month ago. He still lives in Manhattan, pretty close to Madison Square Garden. He asked, “Why does no one give a crap about the San Antonio Spurs, yet MSG is overflowing every night that the Knicks and Rangers play who are beloved for pretty much never winning anything?” It’s a great question.
Gregg Popovich took over a San Antonio Spurs team a third of the way through the 1996 season that had pretty much been irrelevant since their heydays in the ABA. Sure, they had The Iceman crushing everybody in scoring in the late-70s and early 80s. Yes, they made some noise in the 1989-90 season when rookie David Robinson lead them to the then biggest turnaround in NBA history as they from 21-61 to 56-26 in a single season. They had never won anything significant though until they drafted Tim Duncan. That is when they became arguably one of the greatest franchises in the history of sports.
5 REASONS THAT THE SAN ANTONIO SPURS ARE THE MOST UNDERRATED DYNASTY OF ALL-TIME
5. The 50 Win Seasons: Earlier this season, the Spurs once again broke their own record with their 15th consecutive season with 50 or more wins. What people sometimes overlook is that they finished the strike-shortened 1998-99 season at 37-13. If that was a full season, the Spurs would have 17 consecutive seasons of winning 50 games or more.
That is simply remarkable. They have averaged 56 wins a year over those 17 seasons for a .683 winning percentage. That is the equivalent of a Major League Baseball team going 111-51 for 17 straight seasons or an NFL team going 11-5 for the same amount of time.
Here is what is even more remarkable. If a team’s greatness is judged by championships the only franchises more successful than the Spurs are the Celtics, the Lakers, and the Bulls. Over the same 17 year period, the Lakers have ten 50-plus-win seasons, the Celtics have four, and the Bulls have two. The New York Knicks, who are in the news all of the time and are still highly rated in both attendance and viewing audiences, have two.
4. Gregg Popovich is one of the three greatest coaches ever… end of story.
Since the Spurs Dynasty began with their first 1998-99 World Championship, Gregg Popovich has gone 891-367. Excluding the 1996-97 season in which he took over during the season, he has never had a losing record. His 964 career wins rank him 9th all-time in only 17 and a half seasons (that is 1404 career games which ranks 15th all-time) while everyone above him has or had coached for 20 or more seasons. He owns a 4-1 career record in the NBA Championship series and is a two-time Coach of the Year. The Spurs have won at the highest level consistently under his reign with unselfish, team centered basketball with very little mega-stars along the way. The debate for greatest NBA Head Coach of all-time starts with Phil Jackson, mentions Red Auerbach, and ends with Gregg Popovich. No one else comes close.
3. The Longevity. You would think once, just ONCE, in 17 consecutive dominating seasons, the San Antonio Spurs would have accumulated a fair-weather fan base. You know, like those d-bags who have never been to Yankee Stadium and wear those pink or camouflage Yankee hats and claim that they are Yankee fans? Or those morons who are “die-hard” Red Sox Nation fans because they hate the Yankees and don’t even know who Bucky Dent or Aaron Boone are? It just doesn’t make sense.
The Popovich/Duncan Era of Spurs basketball is one of the greatest eras in all of sports history. In the 16 years that Popovich and Duncan have been united, the Spurs have gone from having zero NBA Championships to having the 4th most all-time. The Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Chicago Bulls are the only three teams to surpass them. And yet if they aren’t playing the Knicks or King James in the Finals, no one watches. How has the NBA not figured out a way to market one of the top ten franchises in all of sports history to a larger fan base?
2. The Real Big Three
Before The Three Amigos in Boston and way before the Big Three in Miami, the Spurs quietly put together the biggest three of them all. They have no ESPN commercials together, they have no national endorsements, and a lot of average fans probably don’t know who that Argentinian guy is. The one thing Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan do have together is two more championships than The Three Amigos (Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce) or The Big Three (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh) have won in their overhyped tenures together.
I get that the New York media is a maelstrom of overhype and chatty Cathys wanting to make any story a headline, but think about how much attention the Core Four has gotten over the years for the New York Yankees. Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and of course, Derek Jeter, won 5 championships over 17 years together. Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili have won 3 championships throughout their 12 year reign. For all of the hype and women that Derek Jeter has snagged, Tony Parker was married to this:
If that didn’t put the Spurs on the map, then it truly is a helpless cause.
1. Tim Duncan is one of the best players to ever suit up.
This is the truly amazing aspect that I can’t figure out. The NBA, more than any other sport, is a star-driven sport. When LeBron finally leaves Miami, the Heat will lose a huge chunk of their fan base. My friend Benny Smalls is a die-hard Bulls fan to this day simply because he loved Michael Jordan at North Carolina and followed him up through his career. The San Antonio Spurs have one of the best players IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME and no one watches.
I’m well aware why. The Big Fundamental simply does everything you are supposed to do and he does it better than almost everybody else. What he doesn’t do is flashy dunks. He doesn’t make ESPN’s top ten lists and he doesn’t tweet about nonsense or other players that he is jealous about. All he does do is win trophies. Yet more people idolized that punk Allen Iverson than ever tuned into one of the 3 NBA Finals MVP performances Duncan has thrown together.
Let’s just look at the resume, shall we?
- The 1998 Rookie of the Year
- The NBA MVP in both 2002 and 2003
- The NBA Finals MVP in 1999, 2003, and 2005
- The All-Star Game MVP in 2000
- 14 All-Star appearances (he missed one in 1999 because there was no All Star game and the other in 2012 because of injuries)
- 10 All-NBA First Team appearances including 8 in a row
- 8 Defensive All-NBA First Team appearances
- 5th all time in defensive rebounds (10,344)
- 12th all time in total rebounds (13,905)
- 24th all time in total points (24,849)
Yet no one is walking around the streets in the black and silver 21 jerseys. More people own Derrick Rose jerseys than Duncan jerseys and Rose hasn’t played in a century. Jason Collins’ Brooklyn Nets’ jersey is a bigger seller than the 4-time champ’s. Paul George and Kyrie Irving both have higher selling jerseys than Tim Duncan and they haven’t even been to an NBA Finals. While the Spurs just rattled off 19 consecutive wins, Michael Carter-Williams’ jersey outsold Tim Duncan’s amid his 76ers’ 26-game losing streak. If that isn’t the definition of absurd, I’m not really sure what is.
2014 is no different. Once again, the Spurs are currently not just the best team in the West, but the entire NBA, standing at 59-17. The only thing anyone can talk about is if Kevin Durant will finally win an MVP over LeBron James. What the heck do these guys have to do to get some notoriety? Even if there is a rematch in the 2014 NBA Finals and even if the Spurs sweep the Miami Heat to win their fifth NBA Championship in less than 20 years, more people will talk about how LeBron failed to win a title more than about how dominating a season the Spurs put forth. And quite frankly, it’s sickening.
Wow. I haven’t gotten that worked up in awhile, folks. I need to go cool off. Until next time, enjoy your first full Sunday of MLB action!
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