The San Antonio Spurs have one rule, listen to Greg Popovich. It’s a simple one that only a handful of players will either understand or follow.
Many of today’s NBA players are built on skills, money, and ego. But, the Spurs are designed by Pop. When drafted or signed there must be a waiver you must sign that states; if you violate protocol, you will be terminated.
Over the years, how many players have went against the grain? I can only think of one, Stephen Jackson. He somehow continued to bump heads with the legendary coach and was sent packing. But, what would happen if LeBron James, Dwayne Wade or even Carmelo Anthony was part of the Spurs?
Could you imagine if James went to the media trashing the front office about a playmaker if he was a member of the Spurs? What about Wade and his personal attack on teammate Rajon Rondo? How would Pop feel about a player like Anthony not waiving his no- trade clause when his departure would be best for the team?
These are instances where superstar players use their standing to prove they are bigger than the team. How many times have you heard Tim Duncan or Tony Parker throw a teammate under the bus or question one of Pop’s decisions. Case in point; the 2013 NBA Finals where the Spurs were up three with 5 seconds left and Pop took out his best rebounder in Duncan and Timmy never said a word. The Spurs would go on to lose that game and the series when all they needed was a rebound to win the championship. Duncan never questioned the move.
But, could that have been said for other players?
The Spurs are winners because they believe in a system. It’s not about the individual, their success is focused on team ball. Pop will sit his players on second nights of back-to-backs no matter the fans protest. His job is to guide his team to titles, not MVPs.
There is a reason the top free agents never come to San Antonio. It’s not because of the small market. It’s due to their inability to accept discipline.