CORINTH – I can’t afford the luxury of cheering for any particular professional sports team, but I do admire a few organizations for the way they go about their business.
The Pittsburgh Steelers I have written about before, comparing them to a comfortable old pair of dress shoes – always classic. The New York Giants are much the same.
In baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals thrive by making a virtue of their Midwestern location and patient management (and beer money). Atlanta also has built a successful baseball organization away from the glare of big-city expectations.
These are not the teams that get the most attention from the 24-hour sports media. Our national colleagues prefer to talk about dumpster fires like the New York Jets, L.A. Lakers or Dallas Cowboys, while it often seems to be some boring but better team that’s hoisting a trophy at season’s end.
We got a good look at boring but better this past week, as the San Antonio Spurs beat the Memphis Grizzlies in four games to reach the NBA Finals.
The Spurs took a younger Memphis Grizzlies team to school, with some powerful lessons about team play and what it takes to contend for a championship.
No matter the sport, making it harder for the other team to do what it wants to do – in short, playing effective defense – is always a good formula for success. And defense isn’t so much about blocking shots or making steals as it is making your opponent shoot from a spot where he isn’t comfortable.
The Spurs already have four NBA trophies – in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007 – and while the team has continued to be successful during the regular season, it seemed like the window might have closed on another title run.
San Antonio’s Big Three – forward Tim Duncan (37) and guards Manu Ginobili (35) and Tony Parker (31) are a combined 103 years old. There are a lot of basketball miles on those legs, but a lot of wisdom in those heads.
Now, maybe San Antonio will get whipped in the Finals – Miami will get there again, I assume – but they’ve got a week to savor just getting there.
Except you know this is a team that doesn’t think that way. They got up Tuesday, grabbed their lunch buckets and said, “OK, let’s get back to work.”
John L. Pitts (john.pitts@ journalinc.com) is sports editor of the Daily Journal.
John L. Pitts/NEMS Daily Journal