Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Gone Spurs Gone

I have come here to praise the San Antonio Spurs, not to bury them.

“We” worship our Spurs down here in S.A. – and with a blinding, shortsighted passion, too. People are aghast and hurt over last night’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks and big chunks of the city will be in a pissy mood for the next several weeks, if not even longer. The fans are currently rationalizing the loss by saying stuff like “Avery [Johnson] deserves it. We’ll get behind him (but not behind Mark Cuban!).” The familiar chant “Go Spurs Go” has quietly morphed into “Go Texas!” Is it asking too much to say “Go Dallas” or “Go Mavs!”? Guess so – and until you do say “Go Mavs!”, you can take your faux love for Avery Johnson to someone’s ears who will listen. (By the way - let me just say from a totally uninformed, non-obsessive P.O.V. - Dirk Nowitzki is a mesmerizing basketball player.)

I usually only get into the whole fervor around this stage of the game. I’d only been following the playoffs over the past two weeks on a purely informational basis, and yet last night’s game was undeniably something to which attention must be paid (i.e. I was watching the game for about the last 30 or so minutes; prior to that, I listened from the other room). The Mavericks ruled the roost for the first half of the game, then in the third the Spurs surged ahead somewhat...but it wasn’t until like the last minute of the fourth quarter that Parker & Co. leaped forward, tied the game, and sent it into overtime.

Now at that point a Spurs devotee is likely in a dual frame of mind: “They will win this!” as well as “They can’t lose…can they??”

They can and they did, and I’m reminded of the dialogue some old man has about the town basketball team in Pleasantville: “Maybe that’s where they get that saying?: ‘You can’t win ‘em all’”. Then J.T. Walsh steps in (symbolizing a typical blinded Spurs fan) and says “But they do win ‘em all!”

The Spurs are a fucking great basketball team – this cannot be argued. But they are not gods and their losses make their wins all the sweeter. If they “won ‘em all”, what might be a Spurs fan's frame of reference for reality? Can they play better next year, if they’d won this year? Another old saying I’m reminded of is “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game”, and too many people get caught up in a win-or-lose, do-or-die frame of mind and don’t think about how well they’re playing the game.

In the last minute of last night’s fourth quarter, the Spurs danced around the floor in this delightful dribble ballet that was as exhilarating to view as any big budget Hollywood feature I’d seen in a good long while. It was outstanding TV drama in those moments. If it’s only a good game when they win, then that is not being there for your Spurs.

I can’t believe I’m typing this, but is it possible I’m a “better” Spurs fan than the ones who buy season tickets and decorate their vehicles with flags and signage? Typing this, I’m feeling like I am.

Get behind the Spurs when they lose, as fervently as you do when they win. Let them know you’re aware that they can’t win ‘em all, it means a lot to you when they win some or most of them, but that mostly you're at your happiest when they're just playing the game.