Spurs Enter Season With Confidence
Winning another championship is the goal for the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs know the Lakers and Heat will get most of the attention. They understand people think they're too old to compete with the Thunder. They know they won't be anyone's championship pick. They're fully aware of what people are saying about them and don't care one bit. Opinions don't win championships. They never have and they never will.
The Spurs are confident that they are good enough to win the franchise’s fifth championship this season. They'll gladly put their continuity up against the flashy additions that other teams have made in the offseason. They believe in each other, their culture and they have no doubt they'll have a shot to compete for a title.
"We're just going to try to improve in the areas that need to be better and make sure we're there in the end," Tony Parker said. "It's more important for us to do the best job we can, not skip any steps and make sure we're ready at the end of the year. The goal is to try and get back to where we were last year. We were close last year, but not close enough."
The Spurs were the best team in the league for most of the 2011-12 regular season. Ending the season on a 20-game winning streak, including 10 straight in the playoffs, they looked unbeatable at times. Many people were convinced that they had a chance to sweep through the playoffs and win the championship in historical fashion. But it was not to be. The Thunder, led by Kevin Durant, ended the Spurs' run, beating them four straight times in the Western Conference finals.
Many teams would be encouraged by the performance, especially a team that was eliminated in the first round in the previous season, but that's not how the Spurs look at things. They believe a championship was on the table and want to make sure that doesn't happen again.
That belief comes from the winning culture that Gregg Popovich has instilled in his team. There is an understanding in the Spurs' locker room that winning the Spurs' way is most important. Accept your role, play your role and believe in your teammates. Everything else will take care of itself.
"Everyone in this locker room understands the common goal and that's because Popovich brings in the right kind of guys here, good teammates," Stephen Jackson said. "Everyone believes in the common goal and that's winning. Everyone in this locker room is humbled to play in the NBA. We're not like other teams where guys are hating on the next person for one reason or another. We play together and believe in each other."
Popovich's strong leadership has created a confidence and team camaraderie that doesn't allow his players to get caught up in what the prognosticators are saying. They're too busy focusing on winning a championship. All signs point to them having a good chance.