Championships and Personalities

Many of us might not be basketball fans, but few could deny the impressive, long-term dynasty that has developed with the San Antonio Spurs (five titles since 1999, no missed playoffs). That consistency is what I long for as a Bills fan. Without going into the X’s & O’s of the hardwoods (as if I could), I want to explore some of the possible reasons for San Antonio’s success, and ponder whether our Bills could go (or are going) on a similar track.

(1) The first thing I notice about the Spurs, and indeed many dynasties, is a long-tenured Head Coach paired with an All-World player. Popovich (18 years as Spurs’ HC)/Duncan (17 years with Spurs); Belichick/Brady; Levy/Kelly; Torre/Jeter…There seems to be a mythic power to such duos.

(2) Superior, long-tenured role players. San Antonio has Parker and Ginobli, both of whom have been Spurs for 13 seasons. Again, this dynamic seems key to dynasties: Harrison/Vrabel/Seau; Thurman/Bruce/Andre; Bernie Williams/Mariano Rivera/Andy Pettitte…

But, surely many squads have had long-tenured coaches, a star and a fine supporting cast, so what puts some teams over the top? In San Antonio’s case (according to it’s…

(3) "The System". Strategies may change, but systems are larger than strategies. Popovich, for example, demands that everyone be doing something on the floor at all times, even when they don’t have the ball. Constant movement and unselfishness are characteristics of his system. Sometimes all four other players will set screens (sacrifice themselves) just to get the ball handler an open look at the basket. In football terms, I liken this to: committed downfield blocking (especially by WR’s) or to guys playing ‘til the whistle blows, instead of looking around for a ref to complain to. Nothing makes me more irate than seeing a scrum for a loose ball while one of our players is making the "Our ball! Our ball!" hand motion.


So, on these three simplistic rubrics, how do the Bills stack up?

(1) Long-tenured HC with All-World player? Unfortunately, the Bills are not so good here. We all hope the Marrone/Manuel duo becomes special, but that is yet to be determined. By the way, "The Duo" doesn’t necessarily have to include the QB; Baltimore’s All-World guy was Ray Lewis. The acquisition of Sammy Watkins suddenly makes me feel better. Maybe he can be THAT GUY. If so, the extra first round pick will mean little. Who wouldn’t take Tim Duncan, even at the price of two 1st’s?

(2) Long-tenured supporting cast? Here, the Bills fare better. Freddy, Kyle, Mario, CJ, Leodis…Supporting cast members we've got. Good ones, too.

(3) The system? This one is hard for me to ascertain. Hopefully, some Rumblers with closer ties to the team can enlighten us as to whether or not there truly is a system in place at Orchard Park (and what it is). To my eyes, the team has bounced around among so many styles and coaches that any "System" has been impossible to establish. Nix spoke of building from the lines out, and Whaley has shown that he will be active and take chances in personnel decisions. These are encouraging signs (GM’s following their system), next we need to see the Head Coach establish his system on the field…and stick with it!!!!

Conclusion: We score 1/3 with two "Yet To Be Determined’s".

Finally, I want to leave you with a quote from Gregg Popovich. It relates to a recent post here on BR concerning coach/player relations. Notice that, when asked what is most important, Pop doesn’t mention championships at all, he speaks of…

"Relationships with people are what it’s all about…you have to make players realize you care about them."

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of

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