There is perhaps no more model-franchise in the National Basketball Association than the San Antonio Spurs over the past fourteen years. The names from Ginobli to Duncan are well-known, and the legendary Head Coach in Greg Popovich is well-respected. Four championships, eight finishes as the top-seed in the Western Conference, and fourteen straight trips to the playoffs.
What ultimately makes the Spurs perhaps the most efficient franchise in professional basketball? The newest Indiana Pacer in guard George Hill, who spent three years studying and performing at San Antonio Spurs University his first three years in the league, is hoping to bring the answer to Indianapolis.
Hill made his first appearance to the Indianpaolis media at Conseco Fieldhouse Thursday morning, and has seemed to bring his team mentality with him. Hill was often heard saying "we" over and over again, and went out as far as saying he doesn't have a problem playing any role as long as it's the one Coach Vogel needs. Hill was mostly a two-guard when he played at local IUPUI in college, but learned to perform as a point-guard for the Spurs, averaging 11.6 points and 2.5 assists in 2010-2011.
But just because he has received a first-class basketball education, doesn't mean Hill is quite ready to be considered one of the old guys just yet. He just wants to help lead among them.
"Even though I'm going into my fourth year, they are calling me the vet, " Hill said with a laugh. "'I'm like you know I'm not much older than you guys', but you learn so much coming from the organization I came from. You know, I'm just happy to be here. I'm going to try to bring some leadership to this team, and just try to figure out how to be successful like where I come from. "
Similar to the Pacers first-round exit to the Chicago Bulls in the postseason, Hill's Spurs were bounced from the playoffs just as quick in 2011. The number-one seed Spurs were knocked out by the eighth-seed Memphis Grizzlies in six games, one of the most shocking series in recent years. Hill seems to see that same readiness to put the past behind, and use those first-round blues as fuel towards this upcoming season, in his teammates.
In fact, it excites Hill to get started as soon as possible.
"You know I think a lot of the guys have a chip on the shoulder," said Hill. "That is a great environment to come in when they have a chip on their shoulder, when they have something to prove."
But for now Hill realizes the goal is to continue to keep this momentum the team has built from the previous season's stint in the playoffs both on the court, and off of it as well.
"Pacers basketball has always been great," said Hill.
"Even though we had taken a dip before the past couple of years, but we are now back on the up-rise. I think the organization did a great job trying to rebuild it, I think the fans have done a great job to support it even more. I'm sure there will be a lot more fans this year since we tasted a little bit of success last year. It all goes with how the players are going to do. If the players are out in the community, focusing on what they want to do and focusing on their games, I think the fans are going to follow it."