The greatest characteristic the Spurs have over the Heat

To be boastful is to talk with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about one’s achievements, possessions and abilities. D. Clarke Evans

Enter last summer: Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade, forward LeBron James and San Antonio Spurs forward Tiago Splitter.

Wade: “(We are) Arguably the best trio to ever play the game of basketball.”

James: “We gonna make the world know that the Heat is back!”

James: “We gonna challenge each other in practice. Once the game starts, oh man, it’s gonna be easy.”

Splitter: “I don’t want to pass this moment never.”

Is it ok to be boastful? The answer just depends on the context you use it in. In Wade and James’ case, they were boasting last summer about joining forces on the Miami Heat (45-21) and gushing about how they would win multiple championships together.

Tiago Splitter was being boastful about signing with the San Antonio Spurs (54-12).

What’s the difference? You have two players claiming to be part of the best “trio” ever, they may need to have a conversation with: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman or any of the Lakers or Celtics historic “trios”.

On the other side you have one player excited to be part of a winning organization.

The Award The Heat Gave Themselves

The Miami Heat came into the 2010-2011 season by unanimously being handed the “Most Hated Team” award even before the season began.

LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh flirted with Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Houston, Dallas, and Los Angeles (Clippers). They held Cleveland and Toronto hostage. The result, a free agent decision for all three to play in Miami, Florida.

The after effects were abysmal for the Raptors (fifth worst team in the NBA today) and Cavaliers (worst team in the NBA today).

The “Big 3” or “Heatles” as James coined them, began the season with high hopes as they went 25-9 from October to December.

Meanwhile, across the Gulf of Mexico, there was a team in Texas that added three new pieces as well. However, there was no giant ‘Welcome Rally’ for a European league MVP named Tiago Splitter, a young scorer from Stillwater named James Anderson and an unknown American rookie from over seas named Gary Neal.

The Spurs kept the majority of last seasons squad in tact and added these three new pieces. The result was a 28-4 start from October to December.

Handling Defeat the South Beach Way

Present day, the Spurs continue to flourish as the number one team in the NBA. The Heat currently possess the number three seed in the Eastern Conference, although both teams have had their struggles.

The Heat are 20-12 from January through today. The Spurs are 26-8 in that same time frame. The Heat were recently on a five game losing streak and the boastful team from South Florida didn’t handle the situations with the same charisma they had before the season began.

Heat coach Eric Spoelstra: “This is painful for every single one of us going through this, there’s a couple of guys crying in the locker room right now.”

We begin with a coach publicly putting his team on the media-chopping platter.

Spoelstra: “There were some trust plays that were encouraging in terms of our progress.”

“Trust” plays? The coach publicly admits trust and chemistry issues do exist within the locker room. Another no-no.

Wade: “I’m sad the Miami Heat are exactly what everyone wanted. Ya know? Losing games. The world’s better now since the Heat is losing.”

Did Wade not say earlier “(We are) Arguably the best trio to ever play the game of basketball.”?

Bosh: “I think sometimes we get caught up just talking too much instead of just focusing on what you have to do.”

But Chris, Lebron said “We gonna challenge each other in practice. Once the game starts, oh man, it’s gonna be easy.” It’s supposed to be easy Chris. What happened to the game just being easy? There shouldn’t be an issue of focus, it’s supposed to be easy.

James: “How do we explain it? We can’t. This isn’t rock bottom for us. Crazy thing is, we could lose every game and still make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.”

A two-time MVP already puts the idea of “losing is OK” in the back of his mind before the next game has even been played.

Wade: “There’s guys on the bench who can help us.”

After Wade said these words you could just imagine him quietly saying “cough, cough coach,” As the quote was directed toward Spoelstra and his subbing rotations.

Handling Defeat the South Texas Way

The Spurs went through a two game losing streak back in January against the Knicks and Celtics; they handled the losses a bit different than the Heat. D. Clarke Evans

Forward Tim Duncan: “We’re very hard on ourselves. We’re not satisfied with where we are and honestly, I don’t care what our record is. We’re definitely not satisfied with where we are at defensively.”

Key words: Not Satisfied.

The Spurs came out lacking enthusiasm in the first quarter against the Celtics, Coach Gregg Popovich said “We looked like we were out for a walk in the park.”

Key Method: Calling out your team in a sarcastic but serious manner. Players will listen, media will laugh but understand your analogy.

How the Spurs handled being blown out by the Los Angeles Lakers at home.

Duncan: “Yeah, I definitely want to get back out there.  Even the time we were down so much, I wanted to get back out there just to try get a rhythm and to see the ball go in the hole, but we’ll have practice tomorrow and we’ll use that and then we’ll get back to the game on Wednesday.”

Key Concept: Pride.

Key Word: Practice.

Neal: “When you lose like this, it’s not as bad as it seems just like when we won the Miami game, it’s not as good as it seems.  It’s one game.”

Key Concept: Simplicity.

Ginobili: “We couldn’t make layups, threes, free throws, anything, and besides they played more angry.  They played with more edge.  We were a little, not soft, but waited to see what was going to happen and they came to get it.  They deserved it.”

Key words: They deserved it.

Neal: “This is a warning sign right here that we have to continue to work and continue to improve.  We know that.  We have a great group of guys and we’re all going to do that.”

Key Word: Improve.

Popovich the next day at practice: “Same as usual. Trying to get better.”

The Spurs lost to their division rivals the Dallas Mavericks in early December, here’s how they handled the loss.

Popovich: “Dallas did a great job tonight.  As a group they executed better than we did.  I think they were a bit hungry and a bit more competitive than we were tonight.  It showed up in the fourth quarter when I think they scored 32 or 34 in the fourth quarter.  They did a good job.”

Key Words: They did a good job.

A Lesson in Humility

The key words/concepts gathered were: Not satisfied, pride, practice, simplicity, they deserved it, improve, they did a good job.

All of these words tie into one definition, humility.

Humility is defined as having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance. A low: social, administrative, or political rank.

The San Antonio Spurs may never have the number one selling jersey. Their coach will never put them out as targets for the national media, and even though they do possess the best record in the NBA, they only care about improving as a team.

The Miami Heat do have some of the top selling jerseys. They do draw more ratings and have household named players like “LeBron” and “Wade”. They are on Sportscenter most nights with highlight plays. Even when they lose, they are the center of attention and before the season even began they said they’d win multiple championships. Lastly, they nicknamed themselves.

The Spurs don’t nearly have as many of the accolades listed above, but they do have something Miami doesn’t have – humility.

Follow Paul on Twitter: @24writer | Email Paul at: paul@projectspurs.com

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX, and the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals. Paul has been featured on WOAI, Fox 29, and numerous nationwide radio shows.

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