After all these years with so much postseason success, heartache and moments in which the San Antonio Spurs' playoff existence seem to be something we take for granted, it's hard to come up with something to say about them that hasn't been said dozens of times before. The Spurs delivered a blowout defeat to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 of their opening-round series, and all it did was remind us of who they are, what they've done and what they're setting out to do.
That's the Spurs' way. They're about the process. And if you continue to live by the process set out by Gregg Popovich, R.C. Buford and Peter Holt in their quest to have the best organization in the NBA that runs on common sense and respect, you're going to be successful. That's why the Spurs are so different and often referred to as boring by many NBA viewers. They may lose games, but there's rarely any drama.
You don't get in-house fighting. You don't get very many contract demands or trade requests from key players. You don't get a coach on the hot seat or an executive in danger of losing his job. They populate front offices and sidelines around the league because their process is simply more astute and basic while navigating the complexities set forth by professional sports and the insecurity of the highest levels of competition. The drama is the game itself and the extracurriculars don't exist.
The Spurs have tasted plenty of failure, too. They've been defeated by feats of improbability like Derek Fisher's 0.4-second dagger. They've been ousted in the first round as a 1-seed. They've dealt with controversy on the court while evading it off the court with their sound culture. They've even endured one of the most heart-breaking losses in NBA history when a collapse to the Miami Heat and Ray Allen kept them from securing their fifth title.
Popovich kept the perspective throughout the entire ordeal. He informed his players that if the Game 6 loss was the worst thing that ever happened to them, they'd have a pretty great life. A Game 7 loss to the Heat devastated them as much as the Game 6 collapse, but they never let it get to them on a grander scale. Impressively, it fueled them to secure the best record in the NBA for the seventh time in 18 seasons under Pop. And when faced with another first-round challenge as the Mavericks surprised everybody to push the series to seven games, the process once again shined through.
Tony Parker set the tone for the Spurs with a huge scoring effort, and while we didn't get the typical ball movement the Spurs use to move a defense side-to-side and get them off-kilter, the Spurs made sure their defensive principles on one end set them up for finding quality shots on the other end. The Spurs stuck with Danny Green despite him looking like a shell of his former NBA Finals self, and he came through with 16 points on seven shots within the flow of a perfect process. Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan all kept with what they're supposed to do, making the lives of their defenders pure hell.
And this is what the Spurs are so good at doing. No matter what the situation is or the potential embarrassment or failure staring them in the face, they continue with the principles of Popovich, Buford and Holt. They continue to rely on basic basketball tenets that strip away the noise professional basketball can bring and keep the team within the construct of the purity of the task at hand. Put the ball in the basket and keep the other team from doing the same.
It sounds simple, but for everybody else it's made complex by ego and conflicting motives. You don't get that with San Antonio. You just get the same thing year in and year out. That's why we keep saying the same thing about them over and over, regardless of the outcome.
That is true success in the NBA.