The NBA’s two best teams this year are remarkably similar.
The Golden State Warriors (23-0) and the San Antonio Spurs (18-5) have the same make-up in that they have flexible front offices, several generational stars, dynamic schemes on both ends of the court, and an enviable culture.
Of course, this mark was set by the Spurs first, who have had an unparalleled stretch of success, making the playoffs 18 straight years and winning five titles.
While on-court talent has played a big part in that, the culture and dynamic set by Gregg Popovich and the Spurs front-office, including GM R.C. Buford and owner Peter Holt, can’t be overlooked. They have a winning culture, they adapt to their personnel, and they create a working environment that encourages both teamwork and individuality.
The Warriors hope to achieve this same kind of success over a long period of time. According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, Warriors GM Bob Myers keeps a wonderful Gregg Popovich quote from 2014 stored in his cell phone to remind him of how good teams are supposed to function:
“A synergy has to form between the owner, whoever his president is, whoever the GM is, whoever the coach is. There’s got to be a synergy where there’s a trust. There (are) no walls. There is no territory. Everything is discussed. Everything is fair game. Criticism is welcome, and when you have that, then you have a hell of an organisation. That free flow through all those people is what really makes it work. And that includes everything from draft to Os and Xs. Nothing should be left to one area — only to the president, only to the GM, only to the coach — or the culture just doesn’t form. At least that’s what’s worked for us.”
Myers noted to Amick, “They are a model franchise. We are all trying to emulate them.”
For all of Gregg Popovich’s bluster and bluntness, he’s also a smart man who understands how people and organisations can thrive. Take, for example, Popovich’s philosophy on entitlement, which he shared in 2014 while discussing the Spurs’ heartbreaking Finals loss in 2013:
“Because you were born to these parents or this area geographically, or this situation, you deserve more than somebody else? … That’s the most false notion one can imagine.
“But I think a lot of people forget that. They think that they’re entitled to what they have… So we talk about those things all the time. You have no excuse not to work your best. You have no reason not to be thankful every day that you have the opportunity to come back from a defeat, because some people never even have the opportunity.”
Of course, every team would like to mimic what the Spurs have. If the Warriors’ recent run of dominance is any indication, they’re doing a good job of following the model.
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