In light of this drama between injured star Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs, we ask, is it really hard to play for the said organization? What are the demands playing for someone like Greg Popovich?
Popovich’ proven winning formula
Watching the San Antonio Spurs play is a basketball purist’s delight. On offense, the system instituted and developed by Coach Greg Popovich is anchored on a pass first mentality predicated on quick ball and personnel movement. As the cliché says, there is no room for “I” in such offensive system.
Their defense is also something to note and it is one of the best in the NBA in recent years. But why are the big names in the NBA seem to be afraid to take the plunge into the Spurs’ proven winning formula?
In the recent free agency involving Kevin Durant, the Spurs were one of the several teams who persuaded the versatile forward but was snubbed when KD eventually chose the Bay Area and play for the reigning champs Golden State Warriors. The Spurs eventually settled for erstwhile Portland big man LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Spurs constellation is bigger than its stars
Why is that the case? Being a Spur under Coach Pop requires commitment and dying to one’s self. How is that? Playing for Pop means committing yourself to the system and to play your role in the system. Your aspirations for your individual star to shine under the bright lights must die in order for the team’s goal of getting the ultimate prize to be achieved.
One must commit to find the other first who is in a better position for a basket rather than take a shot which will just take him to ESPN’s Sports center. It is a commitment to hustle back on defense for a chase down block rather than just watch the opponent make that basket thinking that you can make it up in the next possession anyway.
When you are playing for the San Antonio Spurs, you are not LaMarcus, you are not Tony, you are not Manu, you are not Kawhi because when you are a San Antonio Spur, you are simply a SPUR because for the organization and the culture that Coach Pop built, the name at the back must take a backseat, for the name in front to shine. One star must die in order to form a beautiful constellation.
This star simply wants to break out and shine
We cannot blame Kawhi Leonard in wanting to leave the Spurs. Maybe at 26 he, together with his advisers are thinking it’s now time to break out of that constellation and let his star shine. If that time comes, we wish Kawhi all the best as he trek the road usually taken by NBA stars and let his star shine.
As for the Spurs, life will go on under Pop. They will still be the NBA’s “road less taken” but sometimes the road less is the road to greater heights. The glory is sweeter taking that road and the Spurs will continue its quest for their next glory trekking that road with or without Mr. Leonard.