NEW YORK – The San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich is the recipient of the Red Auerbach Trophy as the 2013-14 NBA Coach of the Year, the NBA announced today. Popovich’s Spurs posted the league’s best record at 62-20 (.756), which provides them with homecourt advantage throughout the postseason.
Well, we might as well start things by reminding everyone how the Spurs should be the team calling themselves the defending champions, except for the part where Gregg Popovich had his three best players on the bench at the end of Game 6 in Miami.
That’s when we stopped calling him “genius” and vowed to never do so again.
So this spring, we will laud Pop with congratulations for finishing with the league’s best record, for putting together a 19-game winning streak, for replacing a top reserve (Gary Neal) with an even better reserve (Marco Belinelli) and for having so much balance on his team that not one single player merited a mention on my postseason individual awards ballot.
For years, NBA media members – echoing the sentiments of its passionate fan base – wanted more transparency from Commissioner David Stern and his executive staff. Whether it was a lottery drawing, a suspension in the playoffs or a referee scandal, folks felt like they were entitled to an explanation. And they were.
Stern grudgingly came around. He arranged for the media to meet with referees prior to the season about rules changes. He allowed the media into the lottery drawing. He okayed press releases that admitted, Yes, we blew that call.
Since replacing Stern as commissioner less than three months ago, Adam Silver has taken the NBA’s transparency up a notch. He declared that there will be an open dialogue about officiating and is walking the walk by making internal memos available to the media.
But Silver is getting something back, too. At All-Star Weekend this year, the media presented the notion of transparency with regard to how its members vote on postseason awards, and the commissioner bought in.
Life can be tricky. Sometimes, you are judged by your successes. Other times, you are judged by your failures.
Which brings us to the San Antonio Spurs, who are sitting at 60 victories with a little over a week left in the 2013-14 regular season, practically assured of having homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.
But when you play word association with the Spurs, what comes to mind first: Their 19-game winning streak that ended last week, or their 0-4 record this season vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder?
And if you look at them through an even broader prism, what exactly defines them?
Both teams expect to compete for the NBA championship. Both teams found their rhythm at the most opportune time of the season. Both teams stormed to the league’s best record and home court advantage throughout the playoffs.
There are obvious differences as well. For one, San Antonio still needs 10 straight wins – a run reached by only three other teams this season – to merely match Miami’s streak. Even if they win out, the Spurs will still come up one short of the Heat and have to resume the chase next season.
But here’s the biggest difference. The Heat were somewhat consumed by their streak. The Spurs are not consumed by theirs.