By Scott Tibbs, June 27, 2014
The San Antonio Spurs' dominating 4-1 win in the 2014 NBA Finals was certainly a significant achievement. This was a team that proved it really is the best in the world. But even more impressive is how good the Spurs have been for twenty five years now, since the arrival of #1 draft pick David Robinson. With only three exceptions, the Spurs have won at least fifty games every year since 1989-1990. (The lockout-shortened 1999 season should be counted, because of San Antonio's winning percentage.) Here is their record:
If you look at other championship-caliber teams over the last twenty-five years, none of them have had the kind of unbroken success that San Antonio has enjoyed. They have either fallen into mediocrity or the lottery. And while the players on the court (and the coach devising the strategy needed to win games) deserve the credit in each individual season, the unbroken streak of excellence is due to an incredible front office.
Think about this for a minute. Scores of players have come and gone. They have been traded, retired, or cut. But the Spurs front office has managed to keep the team near the top of the NBA every single year (with the exception of the arguably tanked 1996-1997 season) without needing to tear everything down and spend years rebuilding.
That cannot be said of NBA teams in Houston, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Miami, Indianapolis or Boston - all of which have been very successful at one time or another (and sometimes for years) in that time frame. Each and every one of those teams has suffered through rebuilding phases. Not the Spurs.
Say what you will about the 1996-1997 season and how the Spurs got Tim Duncan, but it is nothing short of front office brilliance that has led San Antonio to be near the top of the NBA not only since he arrived, but for several years before that. The Spurs front office added the pieces they needed to add to keep the team relevant, often finding talent overlooked by the rest of the league that has been critical to their championship aspirations.
There is no question that the Spurs have by far the best front office in the NBA over the last twenty-five years, and perhaps the best front office in NBA history.