There’s absolutely no good reason to not like the San Antonio Spurs. Cliché or not, they’re the consummate team in what many decry as an era of me-first isolation basketball. They have three stars that have stuck it out in a small market and, for the most part, stayed away from any embarrassing off-court troubles. They win the right way and play an exciting brand of hoops, despite being saddled with an ill-fitting mantle of a boring and plodding defense-based team.
And I just can’t stand them. Why? I don’t know.
I should appreciate Tim Duncan. He’s going to retire as one of the best and most decorated big men in NBA history. He plays a classic game and gets more out of his diminished athleticism than seems possible. He’s on the verge of his fifth championship, but is never mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.
It’s totally unfair. But it makes total sense. He’s not flashy. Even a curmudgeon like myself has a hard time getting all hot and bothered over bank shots from the baseline. There’s little to latch onto in his personality, whether it’s positive or negative. His Q score won’t bowl anyone over.
His partners in crime are similar. Tony Parker is a hell of a point guard. At 6-foot-2, he has no business leading the league in paint points, yet he does. The Frenchman is not a lights-out three-point shooter or apt to throw a highlight-reel pass. His biggest attribute is his consistency. In case you haven’t been paying attention, Americans like bright lights and flashes-in-the-pan. See: Jeremy Lin.
And then there’s Manu Ginobili. All he does is elbow and knee his way to almost 20 points a game. I’m half-convinced his name is Argentine for “crafty.” But the most exciting thing he’s ever done is kill a bat with his bare hands.
Look, I feel guilty. The Spurs have never done anything to me. Their coach, Gregg Popovich, seems personable enough. And I can respect anyone who pleads for “more nasty.” But year in and year out, I find myself rooting for their playoff ouster.
Why can’t I appreciate excellence?
I don’t beat myself up too much, though, since I’m not alone. Despite their myriad successes, San Antonio has never been a popular bandwagon for people to jump on. They’re businesslike. Since Eva Longoria stopped going to games, they’re just not very sexy.
The Spurs are the 7 at the bar with a good personality. You know they’re good for you, but you can’t keep your eye from wandering to a more voluptuous team. It’s hard not to be swayed by Oklahoma City, what with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden combining to be the most exciting threesome in professional basketball. It’s hard not to want to see Bryant drop 50 and Metta World Peace assault a guy.
What I have a much easier time doing is respecting the Spurs. What else are you going to do with a team that’s won 20 straight games, 10 of which came in the playoffs?
The important part is that San Antonio and the fan base don’t give one single f*ck about what I and the rest of America think. Winning is winning. It’s not a beauty pageant or a popularity contest. It’s the NBA.