alh1020: Those of you who watched the Spurs telecast may have heard Spurs commentator Bill Land mention an article he read in the NY Times he felt was a pretty good article, featuring the Spurs in comparison to the NY Knicks. This is that article.
By HARVEY ARATON
Once every season, the San Antonio Spurs
visit Madison Square Garden — as they are scheduled to do Sunday afternoon — to remind the Knicks
, in a larger contextual sense, of everything they are not. And that is not good.
Over the last decade and a half, the Spurs have built one of the most stable and enduring foundations in the history of professional basketball. On the other end of the N.B.A. spectrum, we have James L. Dolan
’s Knicks, a metaphorical Legoland.
This is not to discount New York’s 54 victories last season, the possibility of a repeat performance or the fine people who have taken on the challenge of trying to make the Knicks meaningfully competitive again. But under Dolan’s tempestuous ownership, too many of those folks have come and gone in a Manhattan minute, hired, fired and summarily forgotten.
With an ideologically opposite approach to Dolan’s method of ownership by the whim of his warring emotions, the Spurs, in the past 16 years, have the best winning percentage of any major American sports franchise. They have won four championships, and they fell short of a fifth last season by the narrowest of margins.
The Knicks, whose N.B.A. title drought dates to 1973 — to be fair, long before Dolan — have won one playoff series in 13 years and seven since the Spurs drafted Tim Duncan in 1997, compared with San Antonio’s 30.
The Spurs’ coach has for years been affectionately known as Pop. In Dolan’s Garden, coaches and assorted executives, though handsomely paid, have been treated like children.
Since Pop, or Gregg Popovich, took a seat on the Spurs’ bench in 1996, the Knicks have had eight head coaches, including Herb Williams, who handled the team for one game in 2004 and for 43 as an interim coach in 2005.
Since the management duo of Popovich — who also holds the title of team president — and R. C. Buford, the general manager, united in San Antonio, the Knicks have had six men in charge of their basketball operation. Three have called the personnel shots in the last three-plus seasons. Donnie Walsh was downgraded from president to long-distance adviser after digging the team out of a salary-cap hole the size of the Grand Canyon.
The latest change — Steve Mills in as president and Glen Grunwald out as general manager — bizarrely occurred on the eve of training camp, months after the Knicks won those 54 games and their first playoff series since 2000.
In a 2012 interview
, Duncan referred to the Spurs’ organizational continuity as a reason he only once considered playing elsewhere (Orlando) but ultimately stayed where he could count on his playoff bread being buttered.
“With the teams we’ve had, with the focus of the people here wanting to put winning teams together, of having a system and sticking to it, there’s no better way to do it,” Duncan
said. “In other places, coaches come in and out, and there are guys who have four or five in the same amount of years, and that’s a situation I can see why you’d want to get out of.”
This is where Dolan would probably grunt and argue that the Spurs’ strategy has worked for them in large part because they have little else to offer in San Antonio. And that they lucked into Duncan in the draft lottery after being accused of tanking the previous season.
That may be true, but when the pre-Dolan Knicks won the first lottery in 1985, which brought them Patrick Ewing, they surrounded him with chaos for a few years, never delivered a true companion co-star and never won a title.
In pre-Pat Riley days, Ewing actually tried to explore free agency through a contract technicality but failed. More than 20 years later, Carmelo Anthony has disclosed his intention to become a free agent next spring, while no doubt wondering if the continual churn of franchise personnel will ever allow for a sustainable plan.
In San Antonio, after drafting Duncan, the Spurs never had the luxury of luring big-name stars or great draft position to find complementary talent. But they were one of the prescient teams to mine the early international market, landing Tony Parker with the last pick of the first round in 2001 after stealing Manu Ginobili with the 57th (second-round) pick in 1999.
Reacting to global expansion with more provincial hick than urban slick, the Knicks only in recent years began earnestly pursuing foreign-born talent.
There is no news media onslaught in San Antonio as there is in New York, but the Spurs have been patient with their young players, from Parker a decade ago to Kawhi Leonard now.
Under pressure from an impatient public — but also from Dolan’s dictums and ever-rising ticket prices — the Knicks invariably dwell more on the inadequacies of a promising talent, like Iman Shumpert.
Walsh made the call on signing Amar’e Stoudemire and his fragile knees before jettisoning David Lee, but it can be argued that the franchise instability and style-over-substance ethos made that risky and now-ruinous move inevitable.
It is well known around the league that Popovich demands a certain kind of player, or at least players with the ability to assimilate into his team-first system. At the Garden, Dolan has welcomed too many heralded saviors turned saboteurs.
San Antonio’s owner, Peter Holt, is seldom talked about. In New York, Dolan is a continuing topic of bewildering and derogatory conversation. And that is not good, no matter the context.
Link to article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/sp...ef=sports&_r=0