Originally Posted by rmt
Not just the defense - but the leadership/teamwork/egoless intangibles that allowed Spurs to contend for almost 2 decades.
This. While Charles Barkley reached higher peaks in the playoffs early in his career, his lack of defense and leadership would doom the team and he would be complaining when they lost to the Lakers, creating locker room dysfunction and some sort of resistance to the tough-love tutelage of Popovich.
That is why I think they would've beaten the 1999 Knicks easily, but lost all those other times versus the Lakers or in the Finals because it would be much easier to exploit his refusal to play defense consistently in the regular season, knocking the Spurs to a lower seed and seeing tougher opponents earlier in the playoffs.