Bernucca: With fundamentals, Spurs making NBA look like AAU

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We are all familiar with the Spurs and their uncanny efficiency. Are you familiar with AAU basketball? benched spurs

I have coached it at the high school level for the last three years. And one thing I have learned is that with just four hours of weekly practice time followed by four games every weekend, if you don’t have definitive, well-drilled schemes on both offense and defense, you have no chance to compete.

However, if you have a group that is committed to a specific style of play on both ends of the floor, you can consistently compete with, and even beat teams that are bigger, stronger, quicker and more talented than yours.

Gregg Popovich has the San Antonio Spurs committed to a system. At its roots, that system is grounded in the fundamentals that are preached – and often ignored – at every level of basketball, from AAU to NBA. On defense, pressure the ballhandler to make things difficult. Commit to playing defense as individuals and as a team. Box out and don’t allow second shots.

On offense, get the ball quickly upcourt and look for early offense. In the halfcourt, set solid picks and make hard cuts. Trust your scheme and your teammates. Give up a good shot to get a great shot.

These are the basics of the game. And right now, with these basics as their foundation, Popovich and the Spurs are making the NBA look like an AAU tournament.

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Schayes: Why Athletes Retire Badly

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200px-David_Robinson_(Team_USA)David Robinson played 14 years for the San Antonio Spurs, won a championship in his final season and rode off into the sunset as a basketball hero.

Julius Erving played all 11 of his NBA years in Philadelphia and was honored in every arena where the 76ers played as he headed into retirement.

While that may seem like the norm for star athletes, the truth is very different.

This season, one MVP announced his retirement, while several surefire Hall of Famers are nearing the end. How will their careers end? With a bang? Or a whimper?

The reality is that most professional sports careers end badly.

Hubbard: News flash: Spurs and James Bond have nothing in common

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gregg popovichConsidering his background in the military, it should not be surprising that Gregg Popovich leads a unit that seems to always fly under the radar. Figuratively, of course.

Popovich is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and stayed in the service long enough to serve a tour of duty in the Kurdish area in eastern Turkey near the border of Syria. It was a top secret assignment; obviously, the good military man has never elaborated on it, other than to say reports of him being some sort of super spy are highly exaggerated.

“I was stationed on the border,” he once told me, “but it wasn’t like I was James Bond.”

Except for military-like precision, there is little comparison to his job for the last 18 years – other than the fact that he directs an operation that seems to do everything quietly.

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10 Fun Facts From Last Night’s NBA Games

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Nicolas_BatumOn Day 5 of the 2013-14 NBA regular season, 16 teams were in action in eight total games. One was decided by three points, many were blowouts and a number of different teams received breakout performances from their stars.

Here’s everything you need to know about last night’s NBA games.

Evening News: Tim Duncan listed as doubtful; Grizzlies extend Pondexter

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In today’s news, Spurs star forward Tim Duncan is listed with a chest contusion, while the deadline for teams to sign players to contract extensions looms.