San Antonio Spurs: Template for the Future?

b-ballThe tsunami of hyperbole generated by the stunning beauty of San Antonio’s performance in the last three games of the NBA Finals has finally receded a bit.

So excellent was the Spurs’ exaction of dominance, we media types haven’t discovered enough adjectives and adverbs to extol SA’s effort.

It was as beautiful an evisceration as one could imagine watching.

Two things have come to mind in the wake of the title won by Old Man Riverwalk and his two sidekicks, who make up the real and true Tres Amigos.

1) I pay attention to the playoffs every year, if not during the regular season, and simply don’t recall the Spurs playing with such precision and panache. Even in their title years. Or last year, when they came oh so very close to a title.

Have they always played such a beautiful game, and I (we) simply haven’t paid enough attention?

2) Will other teams — including perhaps at the collegiate level — jump on the bandwagon, change their modus operandi, eschewing the pick and roll for a motion, pass-first offensive attack?

Given how effective the Princeton offense can be, how hard it is to defend when executed properly, I’ve wondered why more teams don’t haven’t adopted through the years? Especially at the collegiate level, where one only sees the occasional modified Princeton that, say, Georgetown’s Hoyas employ.

The pro game is assuredly a different beast. It’s hard to conceive such sets in this era of überstars, guys who have been centerpieces since they were 11 years old, and who feel entitled to a requisite number of touches every game.1

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So, getting to that second question first, it appears that the Cleveland Cavaliers, spurned in their entreaties to land a big name coach,2 have gone in another direction. Across the sea actually, to the old country.

The new guy on the bench in Cleveland is David Blatt.

You’re excused if you’ve failed to immediately recognize him. He’s been coaching for the last score of years in Europe. Israel. Greece. Turkey. The Russian Olympic team, a medal winner. With serious success apparently.

What stands out on his résumé — to me anyway — is those years he played in college here in the States where.


For Pete Carril.

Blatt’s teams, it is generally reported, play Princeton-style.

LeBron, whaddayathink?

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I got my answer to my first question in Lee Jenkins’ wave of adulation, found in the latest Sports Illustrated. On the cover, the Finals performance by the victors is heralded as “Masterpiece.”

Starting when both Captain Robinson and First Mate Duncan were in the lineup, Greg Popovich’s O wasn’t much different than other franchises with studs in the post. Dump it in, man the perimeter for the kickout if one or the other of those post guys couldn’t power it to the hole.

Robinson, of course, retired not that long after Duncan arrived in AlamoTown. The offense really didn’t change much.

After elimination from the playoffs in 2010 by Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns, Pop astutely knew a change was in order. According to Jenkins, the coach knew “We have to get faster.”

Tony Parker morphed into heyday Steve Nash. Duncan, it turns out, can not only pass the rock, but enjoys doing so. So too, actually even more, Boris Diaw, whose talents weren’t fully appreciated or realized until he arrived in town. Then there was the boffo, most prescient Draft Day trade — perhaps the best in the history of Draft Day trades — which brought on board Kawhi Leonard.

So, the answer to my question is no, San Antonio hasn’t always played such a beautiful game. It’s been only four years in development.

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What other franchises, besides the nowhere-to-go-but-up Cavs, might jump on the Old School trend?

Only time will tell who has fell and who’s been left behind.

The Los Angeles Lakers still need a coach. Kobe Bryant in an O that doesn’t feature him front, center and always? Uh, I don’t think so.

Rumors have Kurt Rambis and Byron Scott as the leading candidates for the position. Neither really has “forging a new direction” on his résumé.

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Chris Bosh is quoted as saying of the Spurs’ W over his heat, “They played the best basketball I’ve ever seen.”

You’ll get no argument from me.

— Seedy K

One thought on “San Antonio Spurs: Template for the Future?

  1. What? Rick abandon the pick and roll? Blasphemy! And, Blatt? A chair warmer for your boy Cal? Or, Anthony from the Knicks to the Lakers with LeBron and Cal in tow? You heard it here first….

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