Friday, October 3, 2008

Why it's good to be a Spurs fan: Reason No. 8-The Organization

Remember this list? Of course you don't. But I figured I would continue the list I started last year. The timing is right, now that a new season is coming upon us.

The No. 8 reason on my list of what's good about the Spurs is the organization. What do I mean when I say organization? Basically, I'm referring to the management team and the culture created within the team. So the owner (Peter Holt) and general manager (R.C. Buford) are the ones I'm referring to first, but also the head coach, Gregg Popovich - who also happens to fill a management role - and whoever does the scouting.

ESPN's John Hollinger wrote this one year ago: "The Spurs are the best-run organization in sports, hands down, and this grows more evident by the stampede of owners from other teams racing in to mimic their methods - in many cases by hiring directly out of the Spurs' organization."

The Spurs were the first team to make a habit of finding diamond-in-the-rough players overseas. Now all NBA teams are sending scouts to Europe and other places.

The Spurs have created an environment where people can fit in, plugging in players with specific skill sets to complement their stars. Except the stars don't always get the royal treatment. Popovich is not above chewing out, say, Tim Duncan. And the fact that Timmy doesn't take it personally or act like a prima donna lets everyone else on the team know they're not above the occasional (or frequent) scolding they'll get from the coach should they mess up.

Popovich told Sports Illustrated, "We try to spend as much time to bring people to the program who have, quote-unquote, gotten over themselves.'

The Spurs organization has been successful to the point that other franchises have modeled their style after them. It's no wonder the Seattle Supersonics Oklahoma City Thunder and Cleveland Cavaliers have taken their current head coaches and GMs from San Antonio. Mike Brown and P.J. Carlesimo were assistant Spurs coaches directly before landing their current gigs, and Danny Ferry and Sam Presti were front-office executives.

And the culture/atmosphere created among the players? Let's just let James White tell you how it is (yes, this James White). And if you don't know White's history, he played a handful of games in the Spurs 2006-07 championship season, but never suited up in the playoffs that year.

"It was a very cool experience going through the playoffs with the Spurs even though I didn’t play at all. Just living in that atmosphere, watching how the veterans were able to handle all types of different situations. … It was great. You learn a lot just being around. No matter how tough it was when they cut me, I’m going to keep good memories from my time there."

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