Saturday, July 25, 2015

The "Out Of This World" Spurs Way

There is a lot of buzz about how the San Antonio Spurs can get their players to sign contracts that are well below market value.  Danny Green, the Spurs sharp shooting 3 point and defensive specialist, was asked why he made the decision to sign such a reduced contract with the Spurs. He replied calmly that he didn't think he took less, that he believed he signed for what he was worth. One analyst commented that he thought the Spurs brainwashed their players. 
Although he said it tongue in cheek, the commentator is right that the Spurs' way is totally contrary to most NBA teams. Obviously the Spurs are a first class organization and many players relish the opportunity to play for coach Pop. And having the opportunity to get a championship ring is also a real sugar stick. But I think the Spurs culture is the real driving force for those who have chosen to play for the Spurs at a reduced salary. It takes an athlete with certain principles and values to sacrifice millions of dollars. And the Spurs don't have to brainwash players because they find players who have the character and values that are compatible with the Spurs ways. So you won't find prima donnas and chest-thumping, trash-talking Spurs. And yet maybe the best test of whether a player would fit the Spurs is if they are willing to sacrifice millions to play for them.  

Walking away from millions of dollars like Tim Duncan, Danny Green and David West is almost unheard of in most any profession today. Granted, these guys have still made their millions but it takes a very special person to basically say that making millions more is not the driving force in their lives, that there is something greater and more valuable than money.  That's difficult for most athletes because the media, fans and peers measure them by the amount of money they make. Most get their significance by comparing their salaries with other players, and demanding compensatory salary. 

I'm reminded of someone in the Bible who sacrificed untold riches also.  Hebrews 11:24-26 describes how Moses refused the world's riches and chose to be a Jewish slave instead of Egyptian royalty. Moses refused the world's value system, the same value system that we now have.
1.Power and prestige
Instead of all of these, Moses chose his Hebrew heritage and slavery.

Now I'm not comparing any of the Spurs players to Moses. But it is refreshing to hear anyone putting the team, others, or family ahead of the almighty dollar. It seldom happens but when it does, you know that the player has a very different set of values. Moses was able to say no to royalty because as verse 26 says, he was looking ahead to his reward. Moses' goal, purpose, and vision were "counter to this world". David Robinson and Avery Johnson set the "out of this world" Spurs culture.  Then Duncan and Popovich cultivated and refined that culture to what now is the Spurs way.  It is different and so refreshing. I'm proud to be a Spurs fan!

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