Like a lot of basketball purists, I’ve really enjoyed watching the San Antonio Spurs play during the NBA Playoffs, especially when it comes to their offensive execution.
Many in the media have called it “old school” basketball and in a lot of ways I suppose it is. Years ago legendary coach John Wooden wrote that there four essentials for offensive basketball:
Conditioning – physical and mental condition is necessary to maintain effort and execution throughout the course of an entire game.
Skill Instruction – Teaching players quick and proper execution of the basic fundamentals is a prerequisite for any tactical instruction. Not even the finest strategic instruction can overcome poor execution of the basics.
Team Spirit – A coach must ensure that every member of the squad is eager, not just willing, to sacrifice personal glory for the benefit of the team.
Flexibility – Every offense must have a defined structure yet offer many options that allow a team to diverge from the pattern to take advantage of a mismatch or a one on one situation.
The next time you watch San Antonio play, pay particular attention to Coach Wooden’s four principles and notice how many times they are evident in the Spurs’ offense. They really are playing old school basketball and that is one of the reasons they are so successful.