Lessons from Spurs’ win

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Monday, June 16, 2014

THE day before the San Antonio Spurs battled the Miami Heat in the first game of their NBA championship series, I overheard three friends discussing their bets. One offered to wager P100,000, the two others P10,000 each, all for the Heat.

“Maypag ihatag ninyos mga buta sa Santo Niño kanang kwartaha,” I told them. “Ila pa mong isinulog.”

I was kidding, of course, but the words turned prophetic. The Spurs took the series, 4-1, winning by double figures in all the four games. Luckily, the bets were called off except for P10,000. Two of my friends are now each P5,000 poorer as a result.


I do not wish to join the instant basketball experts and analyze the anatomy of Miami’s debacle. I would rather point out some facts about both teams and their players and the lessons they lend to our everyday lives.

For instance, the team payroll of the Heat is $81,530,213, according to www.basketball-reference.com. That’s $22,851,213 over the NBA’s salary cap of $58,679,000 for the 2013-2014 season.

On the other hand, the total players’ salaries of the Spurs is, according to the same source, $74,677,468 or $15,998,468 above the NBA’s allowed maximum.

Three players ate up the Heat’s salary cap. No surprise there since Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade belong to that class called the NBA superstars. James and Bosh each got $19,067,500 in annual salaries while Wade earned only $18,673,000.

Their pay is, however, nowhere near the P30,453,805 being paid to Kobe Bryant by the Los Angeles Lakers, which did not even qualify for the post-season this year.

The highest paid Spur is Tony Parker with $12,500,000, which is higher than Tim Duncan’s $10,361,446 and Tiago Splitter’s $10,000,000. Manu Ginobili, the Spurs most valuable sixth man, is getting only P7,500,000 while Kawhi Leonard, who was named Finals MVP this year, is earning a paltry (at least by NBA standards) $1,887,840.

The Heat are reportedly pursuing New York Knicks unrestricted free agent (if he opts out) Carmelo Anthony to complete their Big Four. That should easily cost the team another $20,000,000, thus leaving fringe players like Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole fighting for crumbs.

The Heat, of course, can very well afford it but will a bloated payroll guarantee
another title?

Not necessarily, as the Spurs have proven this year. Devoid of any real superstars (the closest being Parker), the Spurs could have swept the Heat but for their Game 2 hiccup. They achieved that by using the old and time-tested concept of teamwork where no single player was above the team.

San Antonio Coach Greg Popovich preached discipline and got it from his players. The Heat were better paid and more individually talented but they had no answers to the Spurs’ collective strength.

There are two lessons then that can be drawn from San Antonio’s triumph that we can use in any human endeavor. One is to return to basics; the other is to stick to the game plan.

Too often, we resort to complicated strategies in addressing a problem when a simple approach would have sufficed. Why is it, for example, that a number of public elementary school pupils in my mother’s birthplace continue to hold classes in tents?

Tapilon is in Daanbantayan, not in the middle of the Amazon where accessibility is a problem.

The answer is in our insistence on a “wholistic” approach that is Manila-dependent when we could have tapped local resources. In Bugang, Pio V. Corpus, Masbate, where most of the residents are from Tapilon, schools were built by parents using indigenous materials. Why can’t we do the same in Tapilon?

Let’s return to basics as Popovich and his awesome Spurs did.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 17, 2014.


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