June 16, 2014

Positivity: Why So Many of Us Root For the Spurs

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 12:35 am

Kevin Arnovitz at ESPN explains why so many of us are so impressed with the San Antonio Spurs — and why we’re so thrilled that they have won this year’s NBA championship:

The work speaks for itself

Gregg Popovich says you don’t deserve anything — you just go play. That’s honorable, but it seems fundamentally just that the San Antonio Spurs won a fifth NBA championship Sunday night.

Another title for the Spurs confirms a bunch of optimistic beliefs about the the way the world should work: process matters more than politics; people should be valued for what they can do rather than what they can’t; a meritocracy can thrive if it values the right things.

Devotion to the process doesn’t always yield the desired results. In basketball, this is called heartbreak, and for the Spurs, Game 6 of June 2013 was a case study. Yes, there were a couple of self-inflicted miscues — Tim Duncan comes up short in the paint, Kawhi Leonard misses a free throw, Manu Ginobili can’t snare a rebound — but the Spurs didn’t deserve that.

Then again, you don’t deserve anything. You just go play. And the Spurs lead the world in just going and playing.

Praise such as this for the Spurs always sounds a little quaint. The ideas themselves feel precious or even stuffy, almost too obedient to authority. “Commitment to process” sounds like homework. Basketball and fame are supposed to be raucous and disorderly. What’s the point of being a rock star if you can’t act like one?

But very, very few institutions actually function like the Spurs because it’s insanely hard to get dozens of people to buy into the same vision. Those that do, such as the Spurs, are the true, honest-to-goodness nonconformists.

… What the Spurs create on the floor is a testimony to all this. Both the offense and defense operate on a collective trust and the principle that if you inspire people to use their instincts, they’re capable of being both smart and creative.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: What surely has to be a modern NBA record low — the Spurs’ highest scorer during the regular season averaged 16.7 points per game (scroll to bottom right at link).


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