The Secret of the San Antonio Spurs

Modenadude | Flickr

Modenadude | Flickr

I have a secret to tell you.

But not here; we’re far too exposed, too many eyes and ears to bear witness. If They see me talking to you, if They hear what I have to say, then my life is surely forfeit.

So hurry, hurry, follow me. Inside, quickly now, through the double doors, down the winding staircase. To your right, no, my right, here, take my hand, I promise I mean you no harm. Yes, I know it’s dark, but once I open your eyes the dark will exist no more. Ah, good, we’ve reached our destination. Allow me to unlock the door before I unlock your mind. Please, please, come in. Don’t worry about me locking the door, I’m trying to keep Them out, not you in. If at any time you wish to leave, I’ll happily accommodate you. Now, sit, sit. Some tea, perhaps? No, no time. I must tell you what I know.

Are you ready? Listen closely, for I’ll say it quickly and quietly, and only once.

I’ve discovered the secret of the Spurs.

It’s been right in front of us the entire time, hiding in plain sight. It has nothing to do with analytics. SportVU and Catapult? These are mere smoke screens, a Kansas City shuffle as it were. Their newness and advanced technologies are simply designed to attract your attention away from what’s right under your nose. No, RC Buford is not some basketball genius, wheeling and dealing and drafting his way to a championship. Gregg Popovich is not who you think he is, and the reason he’s so surly with the media is because he doesn’t want to be exposed.

What’s that? Quit rambling and get on with it? Quite right, you’ll have to forgive me. As you can tell, I still haven’t yet fully recovered from this divine revelation myself.

The secret of the Spurs, that which drives their inconceivable sustained success, which allows them to somehow jump from a seven point lead to a twenty-five point leads is this:


Quiet. Did you hear that? I could have sworn I heard footsteps above. Perhaps not.

Yes, hypnosis. I’m sorry if this decimates your world view of the Spurs, of Gregg Popovich the great and Tim Duncan the immortal. It’s true, I’m afraid. Their winning ways have nearly nothing to do with pick and roll variations and defensive schemes, and everything to do with simple illusion.

I see the skepticism dancing your eyes, my friend. How could they possibly employ hypnosis on the court? There’s too much outside noise to hypnotize by voice alone, and a player using a stop watch or pendant on the court would certainly draw attention to themselves.

Once again, the answer is right in front of you. The ball, you see, is the pendulum they use to disorient and confuse – zipping from post to corner, around the perimeter, back to the paint then out again. It happens all so fast, so suddenly that one cannot help but be dazed and dumbfounded. It’s no wonder most defenders are a beat too slow in recovering to the Spurs’ shooters!

I discovered the truth Friday, watching the Spurs battle the Nuggets from high atop my media perch at the Pepsi Center. Though I suspect it wasn’t Popovich’s intent to enthrall the entire arena, the Spurs were executing their dastardly spell at such a high level that all who bore witness were at least partially bewitched.

In one instant, the Spurs held a narrow five point lead. The very next, that lead improbably blossomed to twenty, all fifteen points scored without me noticing. Time, it seemed, had skipped forward, and saw fit to leave me behind. Determined to avoid a recurrence, and to prove to myself I wasn’t suffering from encephalitis, I double my efforts to pay attention to the game. Yet, it happened again, from a thirteen point lead to thirty. This was when I first suspected something maleficent afoot. I then changed my tactic. Instead of paying attention, I’d merely open my mind to the game, and when I did,  when the blur and swirls of orange engulf my very being, nirvana awaited me. The truth was all too clear, and I laughed at the simplicity and childishness of it. Hypnosis! How clever, how deceitful, how…Popovich-ian.

There they are again! The footsteps! Louder, this time. Are you sure you didn’t hear them? Perhaps it was just a rat…

Anyways, where was I? Ah, yes. The brief moment of nirvana faded, replaced in its stead by delirium. Puns and photoshops of a most peculiar nature sprouted forth from my fingers to cyberspace – you must have seen them, and for that I apologize.

I didn’t even bother going to Popovich’s post-game press conference – I couldn’t risk it. One look at my guilty face and he’d know what I’d unearthed. No doubt he’d grow suspicious at my absence, but better suspicion than his quiet rage.

I fled, far, far away, until the time came to tell another of what I’d learned. And now you know, and now we can expose the Spurs for what they trul-OH MY GOD THE DOOR, THE DOOR. THEY’RE HERE! THEY MUST HAVE FOLLOWED US SOMEHOW. OH I’M A FOOL TO HAVE BELIEVED FOR ONE SECOND I ESCAPED THEIR PRYING EARS.

You must flee. No, I’ll hear no argument. My time has long passed. There’s an escape hatch underneath that floorboard. I can buy you a few moments but you must go now! Just remember what you learned here today. Remember my words, remember the truth!



Jordan White

Jordan White loves basketball, loves writing and loves writing about basketball. He marvels at every Ricky Rubio pass and cries after every Brandon Roy highlight. He grew up in Kansas, where, contrary to popular belief, there is running water, electricity, and no singing munchkins. Follow him on Twitter: @JordanSWhite