Don’t let anyone downplay what Barack Obama said at MIT’s Sloan Conference.
During an “off the record” speech and Q&A at the sports analytics conference (which wasn’t supposed to be broadcast but had audio leaked to Reason.com), President Barack Obama lavishly praised the San Antonio Spurs and their culture of winning.
Toward the end of his time on stage, Obama was asked by a moderator:
“You’re an NBA All-Star. You’re a free agent this offseason. Every team is offering you the max contract. Which teams would you choose to meet with in free agency and why?”
Here was his response:
I think it’s fair to say that there are organizations in the NBA or the NFL that may not win every year but have created the kind of culture that I was referring to earlier. They’re smart, they’re well-run, they’re focused on team, they treat everybody in the organization with respect. That is the kind of organization that I would want to be a part of. I will say that over the last 15 years, in basketball, San Antonio would be a great example.
The former president gave much of the credit to the front office:
If you look at what they’ve built, it’s just a smart, well-run operation with a good culture that takes not just All-Stars but people that nobody saw coming, and molds them into a great team.
But then he praised five-time champion and all-time great Tim Duncan for setting an example for other players and providing head coach Gregg Popovich the leadership role he wants to wield in the organization:
Part of the reason that it worked for San Antonio was the best player, Tim Duncan, embodied that [team-first] attitude. [He’s a] Hall of Fame player but if Popovich yelled at him, he took it because he understood he had a role to play. So that’s the kind of setting that I’d want to be in, that I might win some rings.
For some reason, there are publications that are trying to downplay what he said about the Spurs by also mentioning that he gave the Warriors, Rockets, and Celtics credit for their winning cultures and smart front office moves. But he brought it all back to the Spurs.
The full audio is available at Reason.com. The Spurs talk begins around the 46:25 mark.