Consistency is the Key
The San Antonio Spurs are unmatched in their consistency. In fact, they are so consistent that it is almost boring. They are highly efficient and make the playoffs seemingly every year. They are currently the holders of the longest playoff appearance streak in the NBA. The team behind the Spurs, the Denver Nuggets, are six seasons behind the Spurs. The team holding the longest consecutive playoff streak in the NBA all time is the then Syracuse Nationals who made the playoffs consecutively for 22 seasons from 1950-1971. The Nationals even changed their name to the Philadelphia 76ers in 1963 and still continued winning. What the Spurs are doing is amazing. It pains me to say this being the die-hard Dallas Mavericks fan that I am, but the Spurs are always one of the best teams in the NBA year after year. I had been trying to think of a team, in any sport, that parallels the success the Spurs have had in this incredible run they have been on, and there aren't many out there. Only two teams come to mind when I think of the most dominant teams in their sport and they are the New England Patriots and the Detroit Red Wings.
My first thought about doing this story was to compare the San Antonio Spurs and the New England Patriots about how they have both maintained great consistency in their sport.The thing is, I had yet to realize how impressive the Spurs have really been. The Patriots have a consecutive playoff streak one-fourth the length of the Spurs at four seasons. The Spurs streak started in 1998 and they have yet to miss a playoff series since that year. The Patriots have made the playoffs 11 out of the past 16 years. In that time, the Patriots have amassed three Super Bowl titles, the Spurs have 4.
The Detroit Red Wings are actually more impressive than the San Antonio Spurs, if you can believe that. They have not missed a playoffs since the 1989-1990 season, and have four Stanley Cup titles in that time. That is 22 straight seasons, by the way. I admittedly don't know as much about hockey as I do about the NBA or NFL, so I won't go in to too much detail about how impressive the Detroit Red Wings have been. I'll just mention that even as an 8-seed this year they are giving the perennial Stanley Cup favorite Chicago Blackhawks a run for their money in the playoffs and hold a playoff streak that that is older than I am. That is damn impressive.
To go back to the Spurs and Patriots comparisons, there are a few things I find funny, yet very similar when comparing the two teams. First off, I find Gregg Popovich and Bill Belichick oddly similar. Both men are fantastic at what they do, and have a great relationship with the players on their team. They both are also not ones to give lengthy interviews. Belichick is known for being one of the most boring people in a post-game interview, and Popovich when interviewed between quarters a few nights ago was asked two questions. He responded to both with, "turnovers", and then went back to his team. They are both business above all else and its quite obviously done wonders for their teams.
Secondly, both organizations are run fantastically. The San Antonio Spurs always draft great despite never really having a great spot in the draft. They always seem to find guys that help out their team right away. I mean, come on, Thiago Splitter? Who thought he would be playing important minutes? Kawhi Leonard has also been a great draft selection for the Spurs. In college basketball, powerhouse teams who lose players to the NBA draft that were essential to their team don't call the process of replacing these players rebuilding, they call it reloading, and it is what the Spurs manage to do year after year. The New England Patriots are the same way. Arguably the two most valuable weapons to Tom Brady the past two seasons, aside form Wes Welker, have been his tight ends. Now, who just goes and drafts two tight ends with a 2nd and 4th round pick in the same year? Oh, right, the Patriots would. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are match up nightmares for opposing defenses. I've already mentioned my Dallas Mavericks fandom, but I'll also mention here that since I'm from Dallas, the Cowboys are my NFL team. And it is my opinion that no one drafts worse than the Dallas Cowboys. There is a reason year after year the Cowboys come up short and show no improvement, and the New England Patriots keep winning division titles. They reload year after year.
Lastly, it is the combination of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili that make the Spurs so deadly. Very similar to the threat of Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and Rob Gronkowski for the New England Patriots. Yes, I'm aware Welker is no longer with the Patriots, but bare with me for the sake of comparison here. Both of these trios go together so well for both teams. While the Patriots trio has only been together for two years, they have seen a great amount of success with one another.
The San Antonio Spurs and the New England Patriots are two of the best run organizations in all of sports. The Detroit Red Wings are in the same discussion. As a fan of teams who have to play these teams in order to win a championship in their respected sport I am very jealous of these organizations. They are all run so well, and continue to be incredibly consistent year after year despite all of the changes that are going on in their respected sports.
It is odd though, that the San Antonio Spurs don't have more of a national following than they do now. Sure, in the next couple weeks you'll hear about how all of the analysts knew all along that the Spurs would be good, but they're just a team that isn't that talked about. Tony Parker is one of the best point guards in the game today, you barely hear anything about him. Tim Duncan is arguably one of the best ever at his position, and it seems like he's an afterthought at times. They are a team that just goes amongst its business year after year and make the playoffs year after year. They draft great and have a coach that always gets the best out of his players. Year after year, nothing changes, the Spurs continue to do what they do.