The Case for 41-0, or the People vs. Gregg Popovich


I just finished watching FX's American Crime Story (and if you haven't seen it, stop reading and watch it now), a tremendously entertaining dramatization of the OJ Simpson case. And because of the verbal sparring of Sarah Paulson and Courtney B. Vance as Marcia Clark and Johnny Cochrane, I feel inspired to argue somethingsomething provocative, preposterous, and potentially perilous. (Now how's that for some Cochrane-esque alliteration?)

Here it is: the Spurs should absolutely give it their all and attempt to go 41-0 at home this season. 

Now I'll let the absurdity of that sink in. Given that the Spurs have already won 65 games (a franchise record) and can't do any better or worse than the two seed, why on Earth would they risk an injury to their aging Big Threeor any player for that matterchasing a regular season record that will be entirely inconsequential if they don't capture the title in June?

Gregg Popovich doesn't have an answer. In fact, yesterday, he called a 41-0 home record "absolutely meaningless."

Here are three reasons why I respectfully disagree with the coach.

1. Context. Context is everything, so let's crack open the history books. This is something that has never been achieved over a season this long. In Major League Baseball, the best home team of all timethe 1961 Yankeeslost 16 times at home. In the NHL, the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers came in four games short, with a record of 36-2-2. Three English Premier League teams have won 18 home games, but not one has won all 19. The 1985-86 Celtics, a team many would argue is the best ever, couldn't do it, finishing at 40-1. To say a 41-0 NBA home record would be one of the biggest achievements in pro sports in our lifetimes would be an understatement. (Plus, and my sixth grader math teacher Mrs. Driscoll can correct me if I'm misunderstanding percentages here, but a 1.000 winning percentage is a record that could literally never be broken.)

Source: USA Today (Larry Legend...The Thinker)

2. Practice. We're talking about practice. Because it just so happens that in order to pull this off, the Spurs will have to defeat both Golden State and Oklahoma City, the very two teams they will almost certainly face in the second and third rounds of the playoffs. The Spurs are a combined 2-4 against them, with a negative 50 point differential. This is the last opportunity to get some reps in against the Dubs and the Thunder. Besides, the Spurs might not even have to try that hard against OKC, who, with the three seed clinched, don't really have any reason to play their stars.

Source: USA Today (Coach of the Year Luke Walton?)

3. Reputation. A perfect record is just, well, cool. In first grade rec soccer, my team went 7-0-0 and damnit if we didn't get that engraved on a trophy that I still have in my parents' basement. Could this finally be the feat that shakes the "Spurs are boring" stigma? I'd love to bust out the 2015-16 Spurs as a classic roster when I'm playing NBA 2K58 in my retirement home. Oh, and there's the added bonus that a victory would end Golden State's attempt to go 73-9. How could you beat that storyline: the Warriors wear themselves down chasing the '96 Bulls, only to collapse in April while the Spurs stroll into an equally improbable record?

Source: Chicago Tribune (Head up, Toni)

Spurs fans, the time is now to make history. Prove the AT&T Center a fortress. Chase glory. For once, take the flashy route.

But, with all that being said, if Pop wants to play Boban Marjanovic 40 minutes a game on national TV twice this week, no one will be laughing harder than me. 

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