San Antonio Spurs and USAA Host Training Day for Service Members

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 17: The coaching staff of the San Antonio Spurs lines up before the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on January 17, 2018 (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 17: The coaching staff of the San Antonio Spurs lines up before the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on January 17, 2018 (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images) /

The San Antonio Spurs continued an annual tradition by hosting a slate of events for local service members in cooperation with USAA.

“It’s in the DNA of the Spurs to be engaged with the military community,” says Matthew Hartwig, Communications Director at the United Services Automobile Association.

Hartwig was a firsthand witness to the intense dedication of the San Antonio Spurs organization to the veteran/active duty community of Military City, USA. In association with USAA, the Spurs held a Military Training Camp for 50 active duty service members with representation from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard on Thursday afternoon.

Led by Assistant Coaches Ime Udoka and Will Hardy, this select group of service members ran through a succession of lessons and drills to learn how to execute the meticulous strategies of Spurs basketball. During the session, participants ran through various exercises including the five-man weave to hone their skills and experience the exhilarating AT&T Center from a player’s perspective.

“It’s really fun to see because they get out there and it’s a bit intimidating in this massive arena playing on the hardwood the Spurs play on, but by the end of it they were going up and down, they were covered in sweat,” Hartwig said. “They really took the opportunity to get out there and have fun.”

One common offensive set initiated in the Spurs offense is called ‘Floppy,’ which has been studied and altered by various coaches throughout the world. This is known by diehard fans as one of Gregg Popovich’s go-to sets, so it’s only right for Udoka and Hardy to instill this knowledge with the team’s newest recruits!

“I’m always open to know what’s going on other than playing basketball. It gave me a different perspective on life.” Revisit @dejountemurray’s trip to JBSA-Fort Sam Houston prior to next week's @usaa Military Salute Night!

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The fundamental skills instilled by the coaches of San Antonio are recognized by outsiders as conservative on both ends of the floor. Smart shot selection and high percentage attempts are valued more than flashier plays in most cases, though each individual player adds their own flare to the Spurs’ way. The coaching staff present for Training Day didn’t hold back – participants had traditional team values drilled into their minds over the course of the day.

“At the end of the practice, they asked [the participants] what they learned. They talked about the offensive sets and that kind of stuff, but they also talked about the value of communication, the value of teamwork and those are two things that I know the Spurs harp on their players…

Then there’s some of the fundamental stuff, right? There’s the culture that needs to happen, and the defense – the Spurs play defense without fouling and I heard the coaches say that more than once; that’s the way that the Spurs play defense,” Hartwig said.

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On March 20, the Spurs and USAA will host their annual Salute Night dedicated to San Antonio’s immense military presence. Sporting their camouflage-themed uniforms, the Spurs are set to host a familiar foe in the Miami Heat. As a part of historic shooting guard Dwyane Wade’s last dance in the Alamo City, service members will have a chance to watch as Pop and Wade face off for one final time.

“There are a number of Spurs season tickets holders that gave up their ticket for that game so that the Spurs and USAA could give them out to military members and their families, so we’ll give out probably more than 1,000 tickets to the game,” Hartwig said.

This is a true testament to the power of the Spurs Family and San Antonio community together. With reverent grace and notability, fans will band together to help those that sacrifice themselves to protect our country.

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Active duty service member and veterans are eligible for a 40 percent discount on tickets as well as a 15 percent discount at the Spurs Fan Shop with valid Military I.D. To take advantage of the deal, click here!