The San Antonio Spurs have been unthinkably consistent since 1999, winning four championships and finishing near the top of the Western Conference standings every year. Some fans call the Spurs’ dynasty boring because they have not won with flashy individual players who consistently produce athletic dunks or 30-point performances. Instead, these players have had to rid themselves of any ego they had, sacrificing some of the glamor statistics on the stat-sheet for the good of the team. In the end, the Spurs have created an organization built around a culture of unselfishness and sacrifice because of the accountability displayed day in and day out from coaches and players alike.
As seen last night in Game 4 in the 2014 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat, players on the Spurs are always held accountable. In the second quarter, Danny Green uncontrollably flew out at Ray Allen on a close-out, allowing Allen to pump-fake and rid himself of any of Green’s intended pressure. Allen, of course, made the three-pointer, and Gregg Popovich was immediately fuming at his starting shooting guard. In what may seen as a “natural reaction” by Green to one of the best three-point shooters in NBA history, Popovich saw as a teaching moment. Once again, as he has done for so long, he held his player accountable for doing something improper, no matter how big or small.
Additionally, Tony Parker was also seen mentoring Green after the play as another example of accountability playing a vital role in the nearly unparalleled culture in the Spurs organization. The players on San Antonio have come to expect this type of accountability, as Green was seen directly after the Popovich-tirade cheering on the bench for his fellow teammates. He did not whine or pout, and that is a perfect example of a Spurs player.
What makes Popovich different from other coaches who try to impose accountability in their team is that he holds every single player accountable for their actions. By watching any San Antonio game, it is clear that Popovich coaches the last player on the bench just like he coaches three-time Finals MVP Tim Duncan, arguably the best power forward of all time. This is incredibly assuring for Spurs role players like Green, because it reveals consistent treatment for all players. Every Spur is expected to produce to the best of their ability, no matter their prior achievements. Every Spur has checked their ego at the door, allowing themselves to accept constructive criticism from Popovich and players alike. Clearly, the consistent success the Spurs have achieved in the past 15 years can be linked to none other than this constant accountability.