The Best Team in the NBA is definitely the San Antonio Spurs and they keep proving it time and time again with the Three Cs of Championship Teams:

Chemistry, Culture, and Coaching.

They might not win the NBA Championship (I am betting they will) but if they do, they certainly have proven that a blend of the Three Cs is certainly going to make it interesting.  The Spurs have 3 future Hall of Famers in Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker but they also have a young blend of talent and role players that is taking them to impressive heights.  And finally, they have a Hall of Fame Coach who has created an incredible culture of consistency.

Chemistry

Any great coach will tell you that you “need the horses” to win! Great players certainly help you win games and talent is extremely important regardless of level.  However, chemistry is usually king and allows teams with less talent win at times.  Teams that like each other, teams that are committed to each other, teams that play for each other, teams that root for each other, and teams that have great teammates that come off the bench win.  More and more college coaching staffs are recruiting chemistry to go with talent and finding that chemistry will win games both on and off the court.  If you look at any successful college or NBA team over time, you will find that they have chemistry.

Culture

Culture is the established work ethic, the behavioral expectations, setting the bar high, team and individual accountability, recruiting of chemistry players, intolerance of mediocrity, blending of ages and talent, team building, strong leadership, and finally the buy in of all stakeholders.  This is what the Spurs have and have demonstrated this over the last several years.  Duncan, Parker and Ginobli are “old school” players who with the help of their great coach’s ability to blend and build the roll players, have obviously gotten the other players on board for years.  This is a model of culture that needs to be copied by the young programs and the dysfunctional.

Coaching

Finally, what really needs to be recognized is strong leadership!  Gregg Popovich is a four-time NBA Champion and two-time NBA Coach of the Year.  He has been the coach of the Spurs since 1996 when they finished 17-47 and 6th in the Western Conference.  Since then, he has finished no worse than 2nd in the conference and won it 10 times!  Coaching starts with the culture you create and the people you bring in….this is a winning formula.

In 1985, I was a senior in high school coming out to visit Pomona Pitzer College for a basketball recruiting trip and sat across the table from Coach Popovich, who lived with his family in the dorms at the school I believe.  Little did I know that this would be one of the greatest coaches in NBA history and perhaps one of the greatest teachers in the game.  Not only that, but a coach that has the ability to cultivate, motivate, teach, and blend the Three Cs of Championship Teams.

Gregg Popovich Coaching Record

  Regular Season Playoffs  
Season Age Lg Tm G W L W-L% W > .500 Finish G W L W-L% Notes
1996-97 48 NBA SAS 64 17 47 .266 -15.0 6          
1997-98 49 NBA SAS 82 56 26 .683 15.0 2 9 4 5 .444  
1998-99 50 NBA SAS 50 37 13 .740 12.0 1 17 15 2 .882 NBA Champions
1999-00 51 NBA SAS 82 53 29 .646 12.0 2 4 1 3 .250  
2000-01 52 NBA SAS 82 58 24 .707 17.0 1 13 7 6 .538  
2001-02 53 NBA SAS 82 58 24 .707 17.0 1 10 4 6 .400  
2002-03 54 NBA SAS 82 60 22 .732 19.0 1 24 16 8 .667 NBA Champions
2003-04 55 NBA SAS 82 57 25 .695 16.0 2 10 6 4 .600  
2004-05 56 NBA SAS 82 59 23 .720 18.0 1 23 16 7 .696 NBA Champions
2005-06 57 NBA SAS 82 63 19 .768 22.0 1 13 7 6 .538  
2006-07 58 NBA SAS 82 58 24 .707 17.0 2 20 16 4 .800 NBA Champions
2007-08 59 NBA SAS 82 56 26 .683 15.0 2 17 9 8 .529  
2008-09 60 NBA SAS 82 54 28 .659 13.0 1 5 1 4 .200  
2009-10 61 NBA SAS 82 50 32 .610 9.0 2 10 4 6 .400  
2010-11 62 NBA SAS 82 61 21 .744 20.0 1 6 2 4 .333  
2011-12 63 NBA SAS 66 50 16 .758 17.0 1 14 10 4 .714  
2012-13 64 NBA SAS 82 58 24 .707 17.0 1 14 12 2 .857  
Career   NBA   1328 905 423 .681 241.0   209 130 79 .622  

Awards

Season Lg Award
2002-03 NBA Coach of the Year
2011-12 NBA Coach of the Year