Super Bowl LI — talk about a tale of two cities: Nor’eastah vs. Hotlanta; Southies vs. Southern Hospitality; Aerosmith vs. Outkast; Chowdah vs. Anything at Waffle House.
However, this week I want to break down the differences between the Patriots and another team in sports: the San Antonio Spurs.
I was driving the family back from YJ3’s birthday trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Virginia on Monday. It was pouring rain, the kids were passed out, and XM wasn’t giving me much music to listen to, so I flipped it to sports talk.
I was expecting to hear some recaps of Sunday’s championship games, but since FCC regulations prohibit talking about garbage, the host came up with this question: What team is more impressive, the Spurs or Patriots?
Maybe it’s the time of year or our obsession with anything NFL, but everybody on air quickly sided with New England. Initially, I did too.
As much as I love the Cowboys, even I can’t deny New England’s unprecedented dominance since Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick won their first Super Bowl in 2001.
“Tom Terrific” and “The Hoodie” will be playing in their record seventh Super Bowl. More than that, the Patriots are 196-60 (.660 winning percentage) over the last 16 seasons and hasn’t had a losing record since 2000. They’ve made the playoffs in 14 of the last 16 years and have won at least one playoff game in 12 of those 14 seasons.
Dominating for sure, but TBH, the Pats are the second-most dominating team in professional sports over the past two decades.
San Antonio hasn’t had a losing record since coach Gregg Popovich’s first season in 1996. In the 20 seasons since then, San Antonio is 1,069-423 (.692 winning percentage), has made the playoffs every year and earned five NBA championships.
New England has been to more championships, but by any other metric, the Spurs are clearly the superior franchise. Additionally, San Antonio’s reign has been more resilient.
It’s true both Belichick and Popovich have had to adjust styles to keep up with their changing games. If you remember, New England’s first championship team was led by a stingy defense, great special teams and Brady’s clutch passing. Then the Patriots ushered in the modern, short-passing game and two tight-end formations we see today.
However, the face of the franchise has been, and remains, Tom Brady.
The Spurs have always relied on defense, but they also ushered in European-style offense, 10- and 11-man rotations and resting older players in January to keep them fresh in June.
Unlike New England, however, the Spurs have won with different players leading the team. First it was David Robinson, then came Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli. Now it is Kawhi Leonard.
Numbers and strategies aside, at the end of the day, the Spurs Way is better than the Patriots Way — or at least it is certainly less controversial.
From Spygate to Deflategate, the Patriots’ reign has been marred by controversy. They have cut players ruthlessly and allowed the likes of Aaron Hernandez to roam its sidelines.
That probably explains why people get an icky feeling when it comes to New England’s success. You can’t deny the greatness, but you also can’t deny the team will do anything to be great.
On the other hand, nothing bad has happened in San Antonio since the Alamo — and that actually turned out OK for US in the long run.
Seriously, outside of “Pops” being a grouch, Tony Parker’s freaky texts and Bruce Bowen’s dirty play, the Spurs are boring. All they do is play ball, get overlooked and win.
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