National Basketball Association
Spurs' losses don't disprove my point
National Basketball Association

Spurs' losses don't disprove my point

Published Jun. 4, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

The somewhat popular notion that the truth of my recent Heat-Spurs, dysfunctional-childhood-upbringing column can be determined on a game-to-game basis speaks to the level of delusion pervasive throughout America.

If the Spurs lose to Oklahoma City and never qualify for the playoffs again during the Tim Duncan era and the Heat go on to win the next 15 NBA titles, it would in no way undermine the accuracy of my original column.

In general, traditional two-involved-parent families produce young people who find it easier to consistently operate in a team environment and submit to coaching than young people who are raised in one-involved-parent and/or no-parent homes.

Despite the whines of my ignorant critics, this isn’t up for debate. This truth is played out in all aspects of American life. Step inside any classroom and the academic honor roll is populated, in general, by young people reared by two involved parents, and the kids who are struggling academically are reared in abandonment and dysfunction.


The issues many people choose to define by race — academic achievement, lawlessness, etc. — can best be explained by family structure.

The Spurs perform more consistently than Miami, in part, because the foundation of their roster — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili — was reared in less chaos than LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the foundation of the Heat.

Sure, there are other factors. The Spurs have been together longer. Gregg Popovich is a better coach than Erik Spoelstra. But the background of the players is highly relevant and influential.

The emotional scars left from James’ and Wade’s upbringing make them more difficult to coach than Duncan, Parker and Ginobili.

That statement does not suggest that the Spurs’ Big Three are perfect human beings, free of emotional scars, robots ready to be programmed by Popovich. Every human being who participates in life has emotional scars that impact his personality. The previous paragraph also doesn’t imply that James and Wade are uncoachable. They’re more difficult.

There’s a reason LeBron’s entourage had to have all-access passes to the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron finds it far easier to connect with and trust his boyz than male authority figures. There’s a reason Wade doesn’t want to play for authoritarian Pat Riley again.

When you grow up creating your own structure and rules, it is extremely difficult relinquishing that authority to another man, especially when you are being paid close to $20 million per season.

Who or what are you going to trust? The talent and drive that landed you riches beyond your wildest dreams? Or a coach who might trade you someday?

The Heat, particularly if Chris Bosh returns, might very well win the NBA title this season. The Heat might beat the Spurs in the NBA Finals.

What Miami won’t do — or will find nearly impossible to do — is maximize its talent and potential to the level of the San Antonio Spurs. That’s my point.

Because of the upbringing differences of their leaders, the Heat can’t match the consistency of the Spurs’ effort and willingness to be coached. With James, Wade and Bosh, the Heat have superior overall talent and far superior in-their-prime talent. But the Spurs, playing in the super-competitive Western Conference, finished with the best record in the league. They played a tougher schedule than Miami. Popovich routinely sat his stars because of the condensed NBA schedule. Duncan, Parker and Ginobili played in 152 games. James, Wade and Bosh played in 168 games. San Antonio won 50 games, just one fewer than its expected win-loss. The Heat won 46, three fewer than its EWL.

(God, forgive me for using advanced stats. I’m sounding like a stats geek.)

Regardless of what transpires the rest of these playoffs — and San Antonio might lose to an ascending Oklahoma City squad — no one will argue the Spurs didn’t maximize their talent this year. Regardless of what transpires during the final two or three years of his career, no one will argue that Tim Duncan didn’t maximize his talent.

He’s won four championships and two MVPs. According to my math, Duncan’s Spurs teams are 830-352 in the regular season. That’s an astounding .702 winning percentage. His teams have never missed the playoffs.

He’s The Big Fundamental, not The Big Freakish Talent.

A strong, stable, two-involved-parents upbringing is the quickest and most effective way to level the playing field if you’re competing against people with more talent, and it tilts the playing field your way if the talent is equal.

Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule. And, just as obviously, self-aware individuals can evolve beyond their circumstances. The problem is millions of dollars and thousands of groupies impede self-awareness and intellectual evolution. James and Wade are fighting tough opponents — wealth, fame, talent. They’re giving a solid effort. They’re good people.

But, when compared with the Spurs, they’re struggling to maximize their gifts, and the core reason is obvious.

A championship this season by Miami won’t disprove my point. It’ll be just another convenient excuse for some ignorant Americans to remain in their liberal delusion that traditional family structure is irrelevant and unnecessary.


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