Spurs Vs. Heat: World Basketball Spectacular
The San Antonio Spurs have become a gold standard for American sports franchises. This year the four-time champions are entering the NBA finals for the fifth time in fifteen years. Few professional teams of any sport can boast of such success. There may be only one other organization in any sport from a small market that has been as successful as the spurs. That would be the storied Green Bay Packers of the NFL. Click here now to get a more detailed review and sneak peek of the game.
The Spurs do not lend themselves to attracting elite super athletes. San Antonio’s location in deep south Texas is not where superstars look to showcase their talents. It doesn’t attract lucrative national exposure and endorsement contracts. The Spurs’ consistent success perennially lands them with weak positions in which to draft such superstars in the first place. So how does the Spurs organization maintain its commitment to consistent excellence?
Part of the answer lies in another factor that distinguishes the Spurs from any other major professional American sports franchise. The Spurs have gone international.
Seven of the fifteen spots on the San Antonio Spurs roster are filled by athletes who were born and raised in foreign countries. Argentina, France, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand are represented on the Spurs. Those players have also made their presence felt in Spain, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Senegal by way of developmental play and charitable work.
In addition to going outside the traditional American basketball farm system, the Spurs stay competitive through an emphasis on intelligently coordinating its lesser, less expensive parts to create a greater, more functional whole. Pundits have referred to it as old school or blue-collar basketball. It is not as flashy or exhilarating as the Spurs’ Finals opponent, the star-studded Miami Heat’s brand of play. Instead, it is consistent, painstaking attention to the details of basketball basics. The Spur’s leader, veteran all-star Tim Duncan, has even become known around the league by the nickname, “Mr. Fundamental.”
The Miami Heat, by contrast, is the archetypal big market American franchise. The Heat have been criticized for purchasing the best talent that money can buy. It represents a corporate, white-collar brand of basketball.
Perhaps the wealthier, star-studded Heat better reflects the current trends of urban and suburban American cultural values. But, my guess is that the smaller markets spread across America will be pulling for the lunch-bucket Spurs in greater numbers. And while perhaps the infotainment hungry, commercialization influenced culture in America may prove to outnumber the underdog Spurs fans, across the globe the Spurs may ultimately have more fans in its corner. No matter who one root for, and regardless of the outcome, the NBA Finals will likely do wonders in expanding international appreciation for a wonderful American invention, the great sport of basketball.