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Ask just about any basketball coach at any level of the game which NBA team they would like for their players to emulate and you will hear one answer over and over: The San Antonio Spurs. In a league where star players dictate everything around them from contracts to coaches to teammates, one team has not only managed to keep their business in near perfect order, leading to the kind of team chemistry that has resulted in five championships since 1999.
Head Coach Gregg Popovich has been at the helm of this club for more than 20 years, expertly maneuvering through a league that has seen its game and stars change over the years. In Popovich’s locker room, each player learns about respect, professionalism, and what it takes to win together as a team.
Never a stranger to winning ways, Pop’s 21 plus consecutive winning seasons is an NBA record. The Spurs have amassed 22 division titles in their history. Looking back over the players to represent this team, the player who helped shape what it means to be a Spur was George Gervin. The accolades he earned rival some of the most famous in the game, but he delivered with a cool demeanor that nicknamed him The Iceman.
Moving forward, the Spurs selected another player who was just as admirable in character as basketball talent with the number one overall pick in the 1987 draft with David Robinson. A tremendous center who led the team to its first NBA championship in 1999 and second in 2003, Robinson was a standout player who let his skill do the talking. Like Gervin, Robinson is also a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Robinson’s career in San Antonio ushered in a new era that has featured some of the greatest players in San Antonio Spurs history. The combination of Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan came together for four championships between 2003 and 2014.
The plan to keep things rolling has hit some turbulence. After Tim Duncan retired in 2016, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker stayed on. Kawhi Leonard, who had grown into a bigtime star, was slated to take over as the leader. However, just two years later Tony Parker had broken the hearts of San Antonio fans by signing with Charlotte in free agency and Kawhi Leonard got his wish to be traded. He was moved in Mid-July of 2018 to Toronto in a multi-player deal that brought DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs. Manu Ginobili announced in August that he was retiring from the NBA. Still a strong team with DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio is in need of some upgrades if they want to continue their winning ways while developing their young players.
There is no doubt that Popovich is hard at work, not only on the X’s and O’s of his squad, but on putting together a winning combination of leaders who will build off of each other for the betterment of the team. For a more detailed look at the history of the San Antonio Spurs please click here.