LOS ANGELES – The Spurs’ decades-long consistency through five NBA championships and 19 consecutive playoff appearances left Lakers coach Luke Walton shaking his head.
“It’s insane,” Walton said. “They play the right way and do things the right way. No matter if guys are hurt or not, they get the same effort.”
The Spurs also share the same visions, thanks to a symbiotic relationship between General Manager R.C. Buford and Coach Gregg Popovich for nearly the past two decades.
“Better than chaos and conflict,” Popovich quipped.
The Lakers would know that feeling. Lakers president Jeanie Buss recently fired general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive Jim Buss amid four coaching changes, three missed playoff appearances and several free agency strikeouts. After rarely being on speaking terms with Jim Buss and Kupchak, Jeanie Buss hired Magic Johnson as the president of basketball operations partly to improve the franchise’s synergy.
“It’s good so far. We’re going to try to work together,” Walton said. “I don’t know how the Spurs front office works. You hear stories. But for us and what we’re trying to do, we believe in doing this together.”
Popovich quipped the Spurs selecting future Hall of Fame forward Tim Duncan with their first pick in the 1997 NBA Draft “wasn’t a horrible thing either.” How the Spurs sustained consistency also hinged on something else.
“Owners who let people do their jobs end up being more successful in our business,” Popovich said. “Obviously if someone made a lot of bucks somewhere else, the pitfalls are to think you can do that no matter what business you might be in. That’s where some organizations get in trouble at. We haven’t had that problem.”
The Lakers had that problem through numerous instances. When the Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni over Jeanie Buss’ former companion (Phil Jackson) in the 2012-13 season, that negatively affected Jeanie Buss’ relationship with…