Friday, November 14, 2008

The Next New Model

Buck Harvey has recently written that some around the league dislike the Spurs (and their extended family) for their insistence on doing things "the San Antonio Way." Popovich and Buford have created a model for success, especially for small market teams, and it's hard to begrudge others for taking notice. This model has included an emphasis on character, fiscal responsibility, and a professional locker room.

Beyond this, San Antonio was the first NBA franchise to figure out how to use European basketball as a farm system, whether for selecting low draft picks, finding stars like Tony Parker, or identifying quality role players like Fabricio Oberto. Currently, the Spurs are out in front of another trend, using the D-League as a true farm team--they are one of only two teams which own their D-League affiliate. Their first stab at making this model work, Ian Mahinmi, will debut sometime this month.

In terms of trailblazing a model for success, Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford deserve the lions share of credit. But Spurs owner Peter Holt is getting in on the act with a little ingenuity of his own.

David Stern once remarked that he felt that climate change was the biggest threat of our time. Peter Holt apparently heard the good commissioner and snapped into action. Last June, the Spurs made the move to become the first wind-powered franchise in the league. Since that time, the Spurs have been 100% powered by Windricity, a wind turbine product of CPS energy. Back then Holt said,
"We are exploring recycling and water conservation ideas as well," Holt said in a press release. "We really want to be a model for arenas across the country regarding sensitivity to the environment."
Jerry Needham is reporting that Holt's exploration has led to another paradigm-shifting implementation: The Spurs are now conserving 13.2 million gallons of water per year through a variety of eco-friendly adjustments to the AT&T Center. Peter Holt is quoted as saying, "We are deeply committed to the health and well-being of this community. There is nothing more important than helping to protect and conserve our most precious resource — water.”

Whereas Popovich created a model for team front offices, Holt's actions will demand the attention of fellow owners, the Commissioner's Office, and the rest of professional sports. Whether or not one agrees with the science of climate change, there is no doubt that the Spurs are out in front of this trend, and that they'll continue to march, in that "San Antonio Way," to the beat of their own drummer.

These initiatives dovetail nicely with another hot issue: the economy. One question I'd love to ask Chairman Holt is how much money his green policies will save the Spurs over a period of 10 or 20 years? Although he is clearly not motivated by the potential financial benefits of such changes, the question is begging the interrogator. Setting aside the controverted subject of climate change, would these changes ultimately help a franchise's bottom line? How closely is the Commissioner's Office monitoring Holt's green policies, and will the league seek to follow the lead of the Spurs? What things could be done league-wide to follow in the train? If the Spurs have become the first green franchise in professional sports because of the convictions of Peter Holt, when will the convictions of David Stern transform the NBA into the first green sports league?
These questions are worth monitoring. We'll keep you posted.

Update: Henry Abbott puts these issues in a broader context.

4 comments:

Ben said...

Good information on the Spurs' approach. I take issue, however, with the notion that there is real controversy regarding "climate change".

Yes, there are ordinary people who doubt the scientific consensus; just as there are others being well-compensated to foster such doubt. Regardless of the origins of this anti-intellectual, anti-"elitist" sentiment, it is not borne out by science.

Remember: the Earth is only 6,000 years old; Jesus rode a dinosaur; and evolution is the tinfoil hat worn by the brainwashed masses to keep out the truth-rays sent down from God.

Daniel said...

Here's a great quote from the late Michael Crichton:

”I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.
“Let's be clear: The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

“There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period. . . .

Andrew said...

Crichton's quote is nice and all, but misses the point and then some. It's not consensus science, in that scientists get together and decide what they will agree to believe; rather it's a consensus that the science points to human-caused climate change. The individual experimenters have found something, and others have reviewed their findings and re-run their experiments. Their results are reproducible, and thus is born a scientific consensus.

Those who would tell you that the science is not clear, or that it is born of politics, are ignoring the massive amount of data and experiments around this issue, and they are ignoring this usually for monetary reasons. Don't bother reaching for your wallet, they're already there.

zakku said...

You're right broyatlaw, climate change is 100% not man made. So we should keep doing just what we're doing. Keep burning, using, and throwing away our ecosystem. Even if we completely eliminated the issue of climate change, isn't living in balance with the Earth still a necessary change that needs to be made? The fact is that we all depend on clean air, water and soil. Killing it with our current consumption patterns is insane, whether global warming is real or not.


The NBA and its players could have an important role if they wanted to help change things. We need to make loving Mother Earth cool. Who better than King James or KG to set the example? When Dwight Howard says we need to heal our planet, it's not pansy or hippie anymore. It's cool. We need to get off this idea that caring about the environment is for treehuggers. We're all on the same team on this one y'all: Team Life on Earth.