With the ease of player movements today, why do some players always choose to stay?
For the storied San Antonio franchise, the new season brings unprecedented change, without their famed ‘Big Three’ of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. The trio spent more than a decade together under the tutelage of Greg Popovich and the Spurs will be scrambling to replace them as well as All-Star Kawhi Leonard. In Miami, all-time Heat great Dwyane Wade has returned to round up his career as well.
Although it is uncommon in the modern game, there is a special allure to building your legacy with one team. Many NBA legends have done just that, so much so that their image is synonymous with their teams. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson personified the Celtics-Lakers divide, and the Lakers have had other one-team greats such as Jerry West and Kobe Bryant as well. For these established teams, the buzz of trying to live up to team history provides unique appeal.
Even for players who have donned more than one jersey, a single team usually comes to mind first. Jordan and the Bulls are a great example here. This is usually due to a specific playing style which can suit a player’s skill set, such as the Triangle Offense employed in Chicago or Golden State’s sniper-heavy offense.
Often, it is the coach who keeps the team together. Popovich is a coach that many players dream of playing for and the Spurs’ peerless approach to player and skill development has benefitted many young players too. The Phoenix Suns are known for their training and medical staff, who have worked wonders to rejuvenate many careers.
There is sometimes a sentimental aspect in the equation too, as a player builds a bond with his fanbase and the city’s culture. This is amplified if the player is lucky enough to play for his hometown team, or if he has the opportunity to raise a family there. In these instances, players are usually reluctant to leave the city and the team that they call home.