After the Big Three, Gregg Popovich and winning, what else do the San Antonio Spurs represent? Hard work, professionalism, selflessness, teamwork and trust all immediately come to mind.
Another noun is diversity.
San Antonio eliminated the Miami Heat in five games this year to win the NBA championship. With nine Spurs on their Finals roster born outside the United States, San Antonio set a record for most foreign-born players on a title team.
The Spurs began the 2013-14 regular season with 10 international players on their roster. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves were tied for second most with six foreign-born players each while three NBA clubs had just one apiece.
San Antonio Leads NBA In Diversity
Last year 92 international players from 39 countries were on NBA rosters to open the season. The Spurs paved the way with 10 and have long been a trendsetter in adopting diversity going back to 1989-90 with Zarko Paspalj of Serbia.
In 2003 San Antonio had four foreign players, including Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Those three future Hall of Famers have only played for the Spurs and just Duncan, from the Virgin Islands, went to college at Wake Forest.
Ginobili, from Argentina, and Parker, from France, both brought flare and innovation to the NBA. Right away Pop could not handle their unpredictable play, but by and large international players see the game differently than American-born players.
Even Timmy, as his nickname Big Fundamental suggests, looks like he’s playing the game with binoculars over his eyes. Duncan uses the glass like no one else today and his vision is often futuristic.
Timmy, the same way guards Manu and Tony are prone to do, will lead the cutter to an open shot and often baits defenders into fouls. The fundamentals learned seem to be more innate than anything and naturally fit San Antonio’s fluidly evolving system.
Spurs Recommitted To Repeating, Resting This Summer
By re-signing Popovich and adding Ettore Messina to the coaching staff, San Antonio’s front office knows what it’s doing. Messina served as a coaching consultant for the 2011-12 Los Angeles Lakers and even more impressively is a two-time Euroleague Coach of the Year.
With Ettore coaching in Italy and Spain, Spurs 2013-14 newcomer Marco Belinelli will feel even more at home. Finally, someone else (Ginobili speaks Italian as well as English and Spanish) for Belinelli to speak Italian to on the plane.
According to the San Antonio-Express News on Monday, the Spurs denied Manu the opportunity to play for Argentina at the FIBA World Cup, which starts late August. San Antonio cited protecting the 37-year-old Ginobili’s health.
After the 2013-14 season, it was learned Manu’s right foot had a stress fracture. As well to Ginobili skipping the World Cup, Kawhi Leonard withdrew from Team USA.
Along with Marco of Italy as well as the Big Three, the Spurs have Boris Diaw of France, Cory Joseph of Canada, Patrick Mills of Australia and Tiago Splitter of Brazil signed for next season. With Mills recovering from shoulder surgery, Diaw and Splitter could suit up for their countries, respectively.
Also, unsigned Aron Baynes (Australian nationality) of New Zealand will be part of Team Australia. If San Antonio signs Baynes, all of the 2014 NBA championship roster will return, which means an excellent chance for the Spurs to repeat.