Becoming The Bar

In life, it’s easier to fail than it is to succeed. In sports, it’s easier to lose than it is to win. You have to have talent, skills, chemistry, motivation and willing to put the team first. Dominance is not achieved by accident. Consistency doesn’t happen overnight. Gregg Popovich and Bill Belichick have set the bar in their respective sports for almost the past 2 decades.


There are plenty of similarities between the two in my eyes. Both have won 5 championships as head coaches (Popovich: 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014. Belichick: 2002, 2004, 2005, 2015, 2017). Each coach has had a transcending and iconic player during their championship runs (Popovich: Tim Duncan. Belichick: Tom Brady). Both coaches have established a culture to where it’s about the name on the front of the jersey instead of the back. When it comes to the media, both of them have had unique responses to questions asked.


Even with the success, both have had their share of scrutiny. Popovich has been criticized for being “short” with his answers to questions about basketball. However, he’s opinionated about questions outside of the sport, like politics and social issues. Personally, I don’t have a problem with it because life is bigger than the NBA, but I understand the frustration of the media at times. Belichick and the New England Patriots were under fire for “Spygate” and “Deflategate”. Spygate occurred in 2007 when the team was caught filming the New York Jets play-call signals. Deflategate happened in 2015 against the Indianapolis Colts during the AFC Championship game where the Patriots were accused of having slightly underinflated footballs.

What I do appreciate the most about both coaches is their consistency over the years. Since the NBA lockout shortened-season in 1999, the San Antonio Spurs have won a least 50 games each season and are on pace to extend the streak this season. The Spurs have been able to demonstrate their winning culture with different players over the years. It started with the “Twin Tower” era with David Robinson and Tim Duncan. Then it changed to the Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili era. Now Kawhi Leonard is the face of the franchise with LaMarcus Aldridge next to him. The common denominator has been Gregg Popovich and his ability to adjust his coaching with the personnel around him.

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Since becoming the head coach in 2000 for the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick has won 15 division titles and has won at least 10 games since 2003. Like the San Antonio Spurs, the Patriots have been able to continue their winning culture by plugging in players around Tom Brady that fits the system. Brady went from having Troy Brown as his favorite target to Deion Branch, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Julian Edelman.

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When you set the bar for excellence, you eventually become the bar. Gregg Popovich and Bill Belichick have done just that. With respect to Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson, and Pat Riley, I believe Gregg Popovich is the greatest coach in NBA history. I firmly believe the same for Bill Belichick in the NFL. You don’t have to be a fan of either, but you have to respect their greatness to keep this longevity of excellence up for almost 20 years.


Tom Brady’s Legacy


The first time I saw Tom Brady was when he used to play for Michigan on Saturday mornings after the cartoons went off. I wasn’t really into college football at the time, but I watched just because his name reminded me of “The Brady Bunch”. He was decent then; nowhere near the player he is today. I would’ve never thought that I would be watching arguably the greatest quarterback of all time… just for the sole reason that his last name caught my attention (crazy right?).


As we all know Tom Brady rise to fame started at the expense of Drew Bledsoe’s injury in 2000. Ever since then, the Tom Brady that we know of today was born. The Patriots went onto win 3 Superbowls in 4 seasons, and being labeled as a dynasty. He went on to put up elite numbers for consecutive years, including that infamous recording breaking season in 2007. The Patriots were undefeated that whole year until losing to the New York Giants in the Superbowl. He also lost another Superbowl to the GMEN a few years later before winning a 4th ring this past February. The game featured probably thee most controversial play call in Superbowl history.


Tom Brady has 3 Superbowl MVP trophies, 2 time league MVP, 10 tone Pro Bowl selections, along with 53,258 passing yards and 392 touchdowns. At this point what more could you want out of a quarterback?

Well…. there was “Spygate” in 2007, that impressive season which was later clouded by allegations of using cameras to look at the opposing team’s sidelines during games. There was also “PEDs-Gate” that same year where various players on New England were using performance enhancing drugs. And then the more recent “Deflate-gate”. The New England Patriots’ footballs used in this past year’s AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts had less air that NFL regulations. The team said that had no idea why it was like that, but Tom Brady’s demeanor in his Press Conference said otherwise.

Roger Goodell and the NFL have investigated the situation. Tom Brady eventually ended up suspended, not for his involvement in the scandal but for not cooperating (i.e. refusing to give the league his cell phone and later on destroying it). Brady ended up appealing, like expected, him and the league are still fighting this issue in court.


I’m not saying he’s guilty (they have enough guilty people associated with that franchise like Aaron Hernandez). I’m also not saying all of the allegations over the years are his fault as well (Bill Belichick definitely deserve most of the blame). What is noteworthy is the fact that if he’s innocent like he claimed to be, why wouldn’t you cooperate to get this moving along? Most importantly, not matter what statistical numbers he accumulates, the cheating aura that New England has been accustomed to over the years will forever stain his legacy. He’s definitely in the conversation with Joe Montana, Dan Marino, John Elway, Terry Bradshaw, Peyton Manning, and so on but… how much of this cloud will hold him back from the ultimate crown when the storm leaves?