Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams reacts during the first half of Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round NBA Playoffs at Footprint Center on May 04, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this photograph, user accepts the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

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The Phoenix Suns, the favorites in the Western Conference, face off in the playoffs for a chance to win their first NBA title in franchise history. Along the way, some similarities are drawn between head coach Monty Williams’ team and the 2014 “Beautiful Game” Spurs. The Suns, led by Devin Booker and Chris Paul, play a patient game that reflects the method Spurs of “hammering”. the rock.”

Before the Suns hosted the Dallas Mavericks in the conference semifinals, Williams — a finalist for the NBA Coach of the Year award — looked back on his time as a Spurs player and front office leader. Williams played for Spurs from 1996 to 1998, then joined the coaching staff as a trainee. In 2016, he joined the team as President of Basketball Operations. senior writer Michael C. Wright shared Williams’ thoughts on his former employer via Twitter on Wednesday, April 4.

“Monty Williams has called San Antonio a ‘school of opportunity’ that allows former players and coaches to discover what they really want to do in the world of the NBA,” Wright’s tweet read. “He thanked Pop and RC Buford for giving him the opportunity to explore.”

It’s unclear what prompted the response, but the team’s support for its players finding new paths in the league is exemplified by San Antonio legends like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. After hanging up their jerseys, each NBA champion has taken on a role within the organization. Duncan took on the role of assistant coach in 2019 and Ginobili is special advisor for basketball operations.

Williams — now a back-to-back NBCA Coach of the Year winner — is just one of many playoff coaches who have been influenced by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. Former Spurs player Steve Kerr is now the head coach of the Golden State Warriors; former player and assistant Ime Udoka is in his first year as Boston Celtics head coach; and longtime assistant Mike Budenholzer is now Milwaukee Bucks head coach with assistant coach Chad Forcier, who was also on Pop’s staff. This does not include the list of former Spurs players still in the playoffs.

Although the Spurs effect is obvious, the team is more than some kind of incubator programme. The team fostered a culture in San Antonio with the stamina that kept David Robinson, Duncan and Ginobili in a Spurs jersey for their entire NBA careers. Tony Parker has spent most of his career with Spurs except for his final season when he played for the Charlotte Hornets.

Fans noted that the term “school of opportunity” did not translate as a compliment and said the organization should be seen as more than a stepping stone into the NBA.