For 2008, the Spurs were number one in the NBA and number two out of all 122 "major" professional teams (again that included the NHL, but not MLS). San Antonio is the only team to rank in the top three for all six years of the survey's history.
Spurs players ranked second (behind the NFL's Patriots) in a category determined by on-field effort and off-field likability, which shows their commitment to community. The team ranked first in fan relations for "ease of access to players, coaches & management." Ownership ranked first for "honesty; loyalty to players and city," and the coach was third for strong on-field leadership.
The survey "aims to quantify the unique relationship between fans and their favorite teams by determining which MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises establish and maintain the most overall reward for their fans," according to a press release on the Spurs Web site. Individual categories factored into the survey are Bang for the Buck (how much the team wins for the amount of money pouring in from fans), Fan Relations, Ownership, Affordability, Stadium Experience, Players, Coaches and Title track (recent championships or those expected in the near future).
So despite the team's ironic identity change from "soft" to "dirty" - which took place in only slightly more time than it took Robert Horry to hip-check Steve Nash - there is plenty of evidence to suggest the players and management are good guys. Bruce Bowen - probably the team's most questionable on-court character based on (possible) cheap shots taken at other players - gets involved with kids in the San Antonio community with his Bruce N Buddy's fitness program. Many other Spurs are similarly involved in good works, but I'll spare you the details.
Lets just say you won't see Spurs players giving interviews like this one from Mike Tyson ...
Sure the Spurs have had some characters like Dennis Rodman and Stephen Jackson, but most of their issues took place while they played for a different team.