Matt’s Minute

The San Antonio Spurs are the most underrated team in NBA history.

There is absolutely no doubt about it.  Yes, the “Spurs are underrated” story has become an all too familiar refrain; every year the only attention the Spurs receive is about how underrated they are.  Ironically, the reason that they receive so much attention about being underrated is that people continue to undervalue their historic greatness.

Since 1999, the Spurs have won at least 50 games every season, earning a top four seed in the playoffs each time (except the 2009-2010 season when they received a seven seed) and bringing home an NBA championship four times.  The Spurs organization is not merely great, but has reached an excellence that few other dynasties can boast. Yet every single year, other (usually inferior) teams garner the brunt of the conversation.  Why is this the case?

For starters, they have the three least talked-about superstars in the NBA. When Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett teamed up in Boston, they were coined “the Big Three” (Now this moniker is given to every halfway-decent trio of players, but that is a different story). Before this Boston trio arrived on the scene, however, there was the great trio of Tony Parker (most underrated point guard), Tim Duncan (most underrated big man) and Manu Ginobli (very underrated shooting guard). One has to watch this Spurs trio in action to truly appreciate their skills and the intangibles they bring to the game.  All three would certainly have bigger numbers if they played on different teams, but together they are able to function by utilizing a cohesive and team-oriented style of play.

Which brings me to the next reason why the Spurs are underrated: team basketball. The Spurs give the truest meaning to team basketball of any team in the last 15 years, proving that unselfishness and faith in your teammates pays off. Unfortunately, team basketball does not translate well to highlights. After all, who wants to see good team ball movement leading to an open Kawhi Leonard three-pointer when you can watch Dwayne Wade throwing a full-court alley-oop pass to Lebron James or Blake Griffin dunking over a car?  ESPN knows that the majority of casual sports viewers prefer the latter.

Will the Spurs ever be widely acknowledged as one of the best teams in NBA history, or will they forever be known as “that underrated team?”  Time will certainly tell.  Over the lat 15 years, the Spurs have been the definition of consistent: consistently excellent. Simply referring to them as “underrated” is demeaning and insulting, considering the undeniably impressive feats they have accomplished. They have managed to maintain their team-first attitude in a superstar-driven league where flashy and selfish plays sell tickets and draw headlines, a feat that perhaps overshadows all of their on-the-court success.

Hopefully, in 50 years time, the word “underrated” will never come to be associated with this current Spurs team. That is not the legacy they deserve.

– Matt McCormack