Sunday night the San Antonio Spurs beat the Utah Jazz, 122-104. With that they are 50-16 on the season, the best record in the NBA.
The last time the San Antonio Spurs didn’t win 50 games in a season everyone was worried about the Y2K bug and people for some reason freaked out at “The Blair Witch Project.”
That was 1989… and really it’s not accurate in spirit to say the Spurs didn’t win 50 games that season. They went 37-13 that lockout season — play at that winning percentage out over 82 games and the Spurs would have 60 games (and they won the NBA title that season).
More accurately the last time the Spurs didn’t win 50 was the 1996-97 season, the year the Spurs won just 20 games so Brian Hill was pushed aside for Gregg Popovich.
That is 17 straight seasons with at least 50 wins.
That is ridiculous.
It’s been said on every sports Web site and a few others, but this is THE model organization in professional sports.
Yes, it’s a tribute to players like Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and countless role players. It’s a tribute to smart drafting.
More than that it’s a tribute to the organization and the culture that GM R.C. Buford and Popovich have built — there is a reason other teams have been poaching Spurs front office for years. The on the court systems have been tweaked over the years — they used to be all defense, now even Popovich uses some stuff from the Mike D’Antoni playbook — but the ability to find players that fit what they do, then develop those guys and fit them in, has not.
They go out and get guys like Marco Belinelli, knowing that he has been an okay fit in other systems but would blend in better with what they do. Patty Mills, Danny Green and a host of other guys the same way, then they develop them.
John Wall is one of the hardest players to guard in the NBA. J.R. Smith found that out the hard way on Tuesday night when Wall sent him flying with a behind-the-back dribble before making an easy layup.
The Wizards beat the Cavs, who are now 13-5 on the season.
Kobe Bryant‘s pregame tribute video stole the show in Philadelphia, but Tuesday night was Moses Malone tribute night. The former league MVP and Hall of Famer passed away in September, and his legacy was honored by the Sixers during a halftime ceremony. During the festivities, Malone’s son announced that his No. 2 will be retired by the organization next season.
There’s no question that Malone, one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, deserves to have his number retired. The only relevant question is: why didn’t this happen years ago? The ceremony next season should be good, but it would have been better if they had done it when Malone was alive to participate in it. No Sixers player has worn No. 2 since Malone anyway, but it’s been over 20 years since he last wore a Sixers jersey. Why couldn’t they have found some time in those two decades to have a ceremony and hang a banner?
Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:
Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game — but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.
In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.
Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.
That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.