Consistency can be a beautiful or terrible thing depending on which side you are on. If you are the Pittsburgh Pirates, N.Y. Islanders, Cleveland Browns, etc. The Pirates haven’t had a winning season since Sid Bream somehow scored on a single from second base by beating a Barry Bonds throw by milliseconds. The Islanders haven’t advanced beyond the first round since the 1992-93 season. The Browns have had three winning seasons since 1990 with only two playoff appearances and one victory to show for it. Not the model of consistency you are looking for.
That brings me to the San Antonio Spurs.
Since 1990 the Spurs have made the playoffs every year sans 1996-97. They have won 4 NBA Championships during their run, and made it to the Conference Finals another four times counting their pending showdown against the Oklahoma City Thunder whom disposed of the L.A. Lakers in just five games. Early indications are the Spurs are the favorite to win the series and the ultimate prize: A fifth championship in 13 years.
All of this is happening and all you hear about are how the Lakers are old and done. LeBron, Dwayne Wade, and the Miami Heat are on a mission. Were they in trouble, being tied 2-2 with the Indiana Pacers? I get it though. ESPN and the NBA want the biggest markets to thrive because that’s what everyone likes to see and talk about which in turn generates revenue and all that good stuff.
I get it. But where does that leave San Antonio?
Under-appreciated and off the grid, that’s where.
But maybe they prefer it this way. They have no polarizing figure on their team whom the media constantly demands to talk to. There is no one on that team who you can , at least in a right mind, hate. They go out every year and play their game and win. That’s all they have done for the past 22 years is win. But not just regular season games like so many teams. They have won NBA titles. Dominating their opponents whilst doing so. In their four championship seasons they are a combined 63-21 in the playoffs. They do all of this under the radar, getting little to no attention. That’s a shame to me.
When the New England Patriots won three Super Bowls in four seasons, all anyone could do was talk about what a dynasty this is! This is what sports are all about! Dynasties! This never happens! The Patriots have failed to capture a title since that last one, while the Spurs have captured one (2007) and are well on their way to another. But again, maybe they prefer it this way: like a constant chip on one’s shoulder. Always needing to prove yourself to others, or maybe just that their front office and coach are fantastic at what they do.
This is the model other franchises should look up to.
Isn’t this what we want to achieve in sports? Always competitive, fighting for championships and achieving it every few seasons? Shouldn’t broadcasters, writers, and everyone else in the media pay attention to what they are doing? Because we know they aren’t. They’re a smaller market so they “don’t matter”. But they do matter. They matter more than anyone can imagine. Building and re-building their team every few years and right back where they deserve to be, 4 wins away from another NBA Finals appearance. The model of consistency that every team yearns, as they should, to achieve.
My hat goes off to you San Antonio. Don’t change your system, style, and everything else you have done for 22 years that has allowed you to become everything you are. Because when and if all of this ends one day, you know what everyone will, or at least should, say? “Man I wish I was around to watch those Spurs teams. That’s what every sports team should be like.” Because isn’t this how these things usually go? Not being appreciated in one’s own time? You have to be gone for at least 10 years for anyone to notice just how good you really were? Shame as though that is, at least in time you will be appreciated and celebrated. And that might make all the difference in the world.