SAN ANTONIO -- Run down the list. David West, Danny Green, Manu Ginobili, franchise icon Tim Duncan. All either took less money to play in 2015-16 for the San Antonio Spurs than they’ve earned previously or could’ve commanded elsewhere.
Point guard Tony Parker did the same thing last year.
“We all did sacrifices in different moments,” Ginobili said. “It’s not just because we are altruistic. We are having fun here. We like it. The quality of life for me is very important, and I think we are going to do OK financially. It’s all a matter of choosing what you want to do. For me, the day to day, feeling good, is very important for me and my family.”
It’s apparent plenty of other Spurs feel the same way, as they’ve over the years built a culture of selflessness culminating in championships. So while there’s a sense of pride within the organization about its culture luring talent, Ginobili wants to see the Spurs repay the widespread sacrifices by putting more hardware in the trophy case.
West walked away from a $12.5 million contract option in Indiana to play for the $1.4 million veteran’s minimum with the Spurs.
Green took a four-year $45 million deal to rejoin the Spurs despite comparable peers around the league such as Khris Middleton and Wes Matthews cashing in on contracts worth $70 million.
“I’ve been a Spurs fan since I was a child,” West said. “You know about them, you hear about them all the time throughout the league. Obviously, competing against them, you know how hard it is to prepare and beat them. So far, everything you hear about them is true. There’s a calmness here, a respect level here that you appreciate. Guys just operate at a different level. A part of it is who they are, just that idea about wanting to win and preparing the right way. I played in New Orleans for eight years, competed against these guys a bunch. So I know what it is. I know how they prepare. I know how they play. I know how they execute. Being on the other side of that for a lot of years, you see it and you envy it sometimes.”
Now West finds himself a part of the Spurs culture. While coach Gregg Popovich said what West did was “real and true,” he also commended Green for sacrificing by taking less as the cap-strapped club pursued coveted free agent LaMarcus Aldridge.
“It gives you a great feeling,” Ginobili said when asked specifically about West. “You feel pride that he chose us, giving up so much money. But at the same time, it creates responsibility. He chose us over a lot of other teams. We want to show them that they made a good decision, and that we play well, they’re going to have fun, and they’re going to enjoy the whole ride. Hopefully, we end up celebrating.”
Green said Wednesday it “definitely” shows what West is all about by his willingness to take less compensation to become a Spur.
But over the summer, when Green did the same thing to return, he told the San Antonio Express-News: “San Antonio is home for me. It’s an easy way of life. Anywhere else, you don’t get the same weather, the same type of fans and people. It was a situation where I was willing to come back for less.”
If the Spurs continue their winning ways, they can expect similar sacrifices.
“It was incredible he would say he wants to be on a winning team, a winning organization and pull the trigger and give up what he gave up and commit to coming here,” Duncan said of West.
Duncan would know. He and many other Spurs have done the same thing.