Every Spurs fan's favorite wine connoisseur was recently a special guest on The Sound of Spurs Podcast, reflecting on the good old days. Boris Diaw forever etched himself in the hearts of Por Vida supporters for his contributions to the 2014 championship. Before joining San Antonio for a memorable five-year stint, Diaw was a member of the Charlotte Bobcats; a team that has never known success.
Longtime Spurs radio host, Bill Schoening, asked Diaw what it was like joining an already established organization with a winning culture, and his answer speaks to what every fan could see clear as day. As soon as the point forward donned the Silver and Black, their match made in heaven was apparent. The fit was seamless as his style only enhanced what the Spurs were trying to accomplish; selfless team basketball.
The Beautiful Game
The Atlanta Hawks drafted Diaw in 2003 but traded him to the Mike D'Antoni Phoenix Suns after his second season with the team. His skills as a point guard were perfect for the fast-paced, seven-seconds-or-less system D'Antoni is famous for popularizing. The type of ball movement the team utilized was a prefix for the Spurs' run during the 2010s. The idea was simple. Give up a good shot to get a great one. Gregg Popovich wanted players who were "over themselves" and only cared about winning.
When speaking on joining the Spurs, Diaw told Schoening, "It was so easy to fit in because of all the players...very similar to what I wanted to do anyway." His relationship with Tony Parker dated back to their teenage years and factored into his signing, but the ball and player movement was enticing. It would be the key to unlocking the Beautiful Game. San Antonio shot 52.8% from the field, 46.6% from three, and averaged 25.4 assists per game in the 2014 NBA Finals. Such a passing display had not been on that stage since the 1995 Houston Rockets.
It is fair to say that the pace and space you see so prominently in the league today is a direct result of the success of the Beautiful Game Spurs. Since then, the Golden State Warriors have averaged over 25 assists per game in three separate NBA Finals, winning two of those three series. Ball movement was instrumental in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Ball movement is prevalent now. Unselfish basketball will never go out of style. San Antonio simply reminded the NBA of its roots. You're welcome.