San Antonio Spurs: The Pursuit of Perfection

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs win over the Miami Heat Sunday clinched the 5th NBA championship in franchise history, while also being a perfect display of the Gregg Popovich coaching philosophy.

The Sunday night NBA coronation of the San Antonio Spurs had every facet of the team's template over the past 18 years on display.

Tim Duncan became the first player to start for an NBA Championship team in three different decades. Kawhi Leonard became the youngest MVP in the NBA finals since Tim Duncan. And Gregg Popovich continued to push and prod his players - while also making the life of sideline reporters miserable.

Popovich is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and about as "old school" a coach as their is in any major sport. In the era of the professional player as a "brand," the Spurs still practice teamwork at an elite level.

As you would expect from a coach with a military background, Popovich gets his points across in a clear and concise manner.

"You move it or you die."

Ball movement is an art form for the Spurs, and Popovich believes it is essential to success.

"Good to Great."

Mano Ginobili has a good look on the pick and roll? He looks to see if Tim Duncan has a lay up on the roll, or if another Spur has a better look in the corner. Everything works by going from good to great.

In order for "Good to Great" work there must be trust - trust in the bench players as well as the starters. If Tim Duncan is passing up an inside shot to pass it out to Patty Mills, he trusts that Popovich has him on the floor because Mills can produce.

Watching the Spurs this season vanquish the demons from 2013 reminded me of another "old school" coach. When Vince Lombardi met for the first time with his team in Green Bay, he laid out his coaching philosophy

"Gentlemen, we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence."

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