The 2014 NBA season has come to an end, and the King has been slain at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs. It was not the most exciting of playoff series. In fact, it was a rather one-sided thrashing delivered by a team that should be considered among one of the best squads of all time, certainly the best since the Michael Jordan era of the 1990s. But though the games may have not been full of buzzer beaters and dunks, the relevancy of the Spurs’ run at the title will echo throughout the expansive halls basketball history due to the unique nature of the team.
For the Spurs, this season’s title was all about redemption. The 2013 NBA Finals will always be remembered as the most devastating defeat in Spurs history. With a 3-2 lead against Miami, San Antonio was well on their way to being crowned the champions. They beat the Heat with mere seconds left in the game, and the trophy was (literally) within sight. And then Ray Allen happened, and the veteran guard’s last minute heroics turned the tide toward Miami. After losing the series to the Heat many thought that it would be the last time we would see the likes of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, or Greg Popovich in the NBA Finals. The team was aging, and it would take a miracle to bring them back from so devastating a defeat. That miracle happened only one year later, and the wounds left from last season’s heartbreak are healed and forgotten.
What makes the Spurs a special team is that we will never see anything like them again in sports. The legacy of San Antonio is one of a familial group that refuses to break apart. Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili all took large pay cuts this season just so that the franchise would have enough money to keep them all together. Ginobili and Parker have played on the ball club for 12 and 13 years respectively, and Duncan and Popovich have been winning championships together throughout the last 17 years. When most NBA teams would have traded away their aging stars upon the first sight of turmoil and underachievement, San Antonio stuck together, worked through their problems, learned from them, and became even more dangerous. In essence, the Spurs are the professional embodiment of every high school or college coach’s dreams: close-knit, selfless, tireless, and emphatically successful.
So where do the Spurs go from here? Their stars are all well into their 30s, and basketball is without question a young man’s sport. But if the Spurs maintain their methods of team building, young players such as Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard will surely carry the torch once the Spurs’ big three begin to fade. San Antonio has not only found a way to stay dominant in old age, but they may have found a way to build a true team-oriented program, one that is not dependent on a blockbuster player who is the face of the team, but instead relies on the core values of selflessness and discipline. If the Spurs keep up with this methodology and philosophy, they should enjoy success for decades to come.