How the Spurs constructed the perfect chain-of-command and “A Beautiful Game”

In terms of combining a legendary front office with one of the most effective leadership hierarchies ever seen, no other sports team has been able to accomplish as much as the San Antonio Spurs have over such a long period of time. 

What’s so unique about the Spurs is that their general manager and head coach, specifically RC Buford and Gregg Popovich, buckled up for the long ride. From 1997 to 2015, when the Spurs had a winning percentage of 71 percent and won five NBA titles, RC Buford held either the assistant or main general manager position. His dedication to keeping the Spurs’ nucleus secure and safe at home in San Antonio helped instill a family atmosphere in the locker room that was predicated on a hierarchy that was born in Eastern Europe while Popovich served in the United States Air Force while also playing for the U.S. Armed Forces Basketball Team as a point guard. The crevice to this story, though, is that Popovich absorbed all of the lessons that he learned in the armed forces on leadership, organization, mental toughness, teamwork, and humility and brought them to San Antonio, where he would capture five championships with a system molded around unselfish play and described as “A Beautiful Game” by some sports analysts. 

By far, the most important staple that Popovich brought back with him from Eastern Europe was instilling a solid chain of command like each branch of the military has. Below Popovich, Tim Duncan took the reins as captain and floor manager of the team; Duncan basically was Popovich’s clone on the court and was counted on to run the team in the heat of battle. Then, it went to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili—the two lieutenants who had just as much influence in the locker room as Duncan did.

Interestingly enough, although Gregg Popovich was set on the wonders a chain of command brought to the locker room, the Spurs’ success branched from their team-first mindset on the offensive end of the floor, mainly. Seen on numerous YouTube channels, pick-and-rolls, back-door cuts, and give-and-go’s were just a few of the simple yet potent plays the Spurs haunted teams with on a nightly basis. Without as much dribbling or stagnant play, some have, as I mentioned above, referred to Spurs as playing “A Beautiful Game.”