Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Spurs Endorse Winning, Not Themselves

It feels like every time I turn on the TV, I see a commercial with an athlete pitching some kind of product.

Blake Griffin is telling a KIA to play the "Best of George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars,"  LeBron wants me to WITNESS (and I have, his 4th quarter meltdowns), and Dwyane Wade is gliding through a Gotham City knockoff in some kind of flying squirrel suit while talking to his equivalent of Lucius Fox, Kevin Hart.  (For the record, no one is Lucius Fox besides Morgan Freeman.  It should be considered a crime for anyone to even try to mimic that, but I digress).

Griffin, Bron, and Wade are just three athletes who constantly fill commercials breaks while I'm watching games or reruns of Saved By the Bell.  And that's just basketball.  I can't forget about Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Chad Ochocinco.  Even Brett Favre still finds his way onto my TV screen from time to time, ironically selling jeans that are zipped all the way up, which let's me know he doesn't properly utilize the product he endorses.  Alexander Ovechkin, Andy Roddick, and Joe Mauer also make their commercial rounds often.

These athletes are exciting and fun to watch, making it easy for them to push products.

But, let's do some math.  Add up the championships of all of those players.  The number you get is five.   Wade - 1, Manning -1, Rodgers -1, Favre - 1, and Roddick - 1 Major.  The rest have a collective, ZERO.  Five titles out of a group of "Superstar" athletes.

Tim Duncan alone has four and, if things keep going the way the are, he is going to start rocking an Archbishop Don Magic Juan-type thumb ring very soon.

Yet, the Mad Men-style board rooms aren't banging down the door for the Big Fundamental, or any of his teammates, to sell their products.  Duncan is seen as dull and "boring."  But, as my good friend (although he doesn't know this) Jason Whitlock, so articulately points out, there is nothing boring about winning.

Tim Duncan is a winner.  He has been the face of the San Antonio Spurs for a more than a decade and during that time has made the franchise into the NBA equivalent of the New England Patriots, who often get labeled a DYNASTY.  Except, Duncan and the Spurs, have even more titles (four) than Bieber and the Boys. ahem I mean, Brady and the Boys (three).

 I am an NBA fan to the core.  I start watching when the season starts, not just after the All-Star break.  I am going to do a very un-Spurish thing now, and toot my own horn.  I've been on the record as predicting the Spurs would win the title since February, assuming they stayed healthy.  They are the most balanced team, who can play at any pace, and match up with any lineup.

So, to me, it's remarkable that they are so often overlooked.

It's almost cliche now to say the reason the Spurs don't get the attention they deserve because they are "boring."  I'm not sure if Webster's Dictionary has redefined the word, but, to me, boring is not a team that averages more than 100 points a game, has a mix of young and old talent gelling perfectly, and a coach who likes his things "Nasty."  I recall a certain fluffy football coach in New York who liked things, specifically feet, a little "NASTY" and the sports world flipped on its head in excitement.  And, that coach's team didn't even make the postseason, let alone win every game for almost two months like Gregg Popovich and the Spurs have done.

The Spurs aren't boring, they are unusual.  Which is not an insult to them, but to the rest of society.

San Antonio has become an anomaly, with Tim Duncan as its leader.  He has set a standard of a solid, consistent work ethic, without seeking out the praise for doing the job he is paid handsomely to do.  His teammates have followed suit.

Tony Parker, who has been an all-star for years, raised his level of play this year to an MVP-caliber.  He stayed hungry.  Manu Ginobili is an international star, but continues to play within the system, while adding his own flair.  Then guys like Danny Green, who was cut by the CAVALIERS, let me reiterate that, DANNY GREEN, WHO WAS WAIVED THE FALL BEFORE THE CAVS BECAME THE WORST TEAM IN BASKETBALL two years ago, is now a KEY STARTER for the BEST TEAM IN BASKETBALL.

Tim Duncan and the Spurs have established a culture of winning that is so abnormal in the modern sports world.  San Antonio is all about WE not ME.

I imagine some of the reason the Spurs don't get the attention of teams such as the Heat, Lakers, or Oklahoma City is that they push away from it.  Their players aren't at Vegas parties giving dap to Lil Wayne, or changing their name to Metta World Peace, or dressing like a cross between Ms. Frizzle and Sally Jesse Raphael.   In other words, they aren't self promoters.

The sports world buys into the gimmicks of commercials, crazy fashion, and outrageous antics because it makes for easy talking points.  It's fun.  But, breaking down the Spurs 90-plus pick-n-rolls a game isn't sexy.  It's monotonous and we live in a culture where doing things consistently is outweighed by doing things with flash, no matter the end result.

The Spurs handle business on the court and then act like businessmen off it.  They don't promote a champion persona through hype, they promote through performance.

They want to be known as winners and getting caught up in anything else is a distraction.  That's not the Spurs way.

San Antonio still has a way to go if they hope to win their fifth title in 13 years, but for teams that are trying to become champions, they should model themselves after a winner's winner, Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich, and the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs don't have to sell themselves, because their winning does it for them.

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