Throughout sports the common modus operandi for an organization has been to poach assistant coaches from a dynasty team or any team that is currently enjoying success in your sport.
The most glaring example takes place in the NFL. Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense has expanded its influence through the likes of Mike Shanahan, George Seifert, Brian Billick, and Chucky himself John Gruden who learned the offense and went on to wind their own Super bowl titles. The disciples of Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense have went on to spring off their own branches of the disciples of assistants who have gone on to success.
After achieving 16 seasons of fifty wins, the San Antonio Spurs are now starting to get more franchises to follow the Spurs’ blueprint by hiring front office people and assistant coaches who have had a hand in the team’s success. These teams hope to build and maintain a perennial contender by putting the team’s success ahead of personal success.
The Cleveland Cavaliers started the trend by plucking Danny Ferry from the Spurs’ front office in 2005, and Mike Brown from the Spurs’ coaching staff. This combo, along with LeBron James of course, built a strong defensive minded team with shooters to surround James. They were rewarded by the Cleveland Cavaliers making the 2006 NBA Finals where they faced the San Antonio Spurs.
The Seattle Supersonics, in 2007, chose to borrow from the Spurs’ blueprint by hiring Sam Presti away from the Spurs. He was able to build the Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder through the draft in to a juggernaut that made the 2012 NBA Finals; and; that would have made a return trip to the Western Conference Finals had it not been for the injury to Russell Westbrook.
The Atlanta Hawks are the recently borrowed from the blueprint. They brought in Ferry last year as President of Basketball Operations and this year brought Coach Bud Budenhozer this year. Coach Budenhozer has spoken of bringing “the Spurs’ way” to Atlanta.
The latest team to poach from the Spurs is the Philadelphia 76ers with the hiring of assistant Brett Brown.
With the changing NBA salary cap and the luxury tax, teams are finding that they are no longer able to throw money at problems to fix them. Teams are hoping to facilitate an atmosphere in the organization where the team comes first. They are looking for building around a core of talented players who are also the hardest workers on the team. Then by having a head coach/star player relationship where the star players are held to the same standard as the role players of putting the team first, the role are able to focus playing tough nosed defense and on doing what they do best. The team’s success will allow them to let players looking for personal glory go and replace them with players who are willing to put the team first.
Interestingly enough the team that beat the Spurs for the NBA Title in June, the Miami Heat is the team that seems to have grasped the Spurs’ Way the best. They have been able to bring three All-Stars together and get them to believe in the team concept over individual glory. As a result, they have been able to take a mish mash of role players that you look at on paper and don’t see how it can work out but yet at the end of the last two seasons they have been crowned the NBA Champions.
So Spurs’ fans, do you look at the NBA landscape with pride seeing the Spurs influence being so prevalent or would you rather keep everyone in house and keep the success to ourselves?