I keep having to remind myself that I should like the San Antonio Spurs, but I can't do it, even though they personify everything I like about sports. They're a small-market team made good; they win championships by developing players, rather than signing big-name superstars to exorbitant contracts; they have a no-nonsense coach that manages to preach fundamentals without coming off as an insincere blowhard, ala Nick Saban or Bobby Petrino; they have great players who keep their mouths shut, who don't rise up on a stage and promise to win seven rings, or split time between filming a reality show, or bicker about who should close the ends of games. They truly are the epitome of what a professional basketball team should look like.
And yet... there's a part of me that hopes they lose to the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. It's an impulse I can't seem to shake; whenever the Spurs are on TV, I suddenly want to change the channel. They're great and I wish them all the power in the world, but I can't help but think that basketball would be better off if they were a cellar-dweller.
The problem isn't even the way they play; sure, they used to be horrendously dull and slow-paced, but Greg Popavich has actually turned them into an offensive juggernaut in recent years. No, the problem is that they never play any interesting games. They're too good. When the Spurs win, they hardly ever have any last-second buzzer beaters or thrilling triple-overtime nail-biters. No, they'll just win by 20, and they usually sweep their series to boot. Look back at their previous four championships, at the limited number of games it took them to win a title, and you'll see the one common thread that explains why they're a ratings Kryptonite. They're so polished, so team-oriented and so deep that they just eviscerate teams. It's not exactly fun to sit through.
After all, if you sat down to watch a nature program about a 60-foot giant squid, would you rather the squid pummeled a defenseless crab for 90 minutes, or would you rather the squid engage in life-or-death grapples with sharks, octopi and killer whales that could swing either way? Unless you're a masochist (not a literal masochist in this case, since both options are sort of masochistic, but figuratively), you'd go with the second option. Unfortunately, the Spurs are the giant squid, and the rest of the NBA is the defenseless crab.
And by the way, don't be guilted into thinking you lack basketball credibility if you dislike the Spurs. Whether they're a great offensive or defensive team, whether they're in a small or a big market, with quiet or loud players, simply doesn't matter. What matters is that they literally drain the excitement out of every postseason they go deep in. So yeah, let's go Thunder. Even if Oklahoma City doesn't beat them, the least they can do is make the series interesting, and lord knows that rarely happens when the Spurs are involved.
Sidetrack: The LeBron chokejob narrative keeps changing
- Raise your hands: who else is sick of hearing about how the Miami Heat are mentally-frail, or how they can't close in the clutch, or how LeBron James specifically chokes like a dog in the fourth quarter? I can't be the only one. Maybe I wouldn't be so bothered if there was some consistency among the complaints, but it seems like LeBron literally can't do anything right unless he and he alone takes and makes a last-second game-winning shot. Last year, all I heard was that this was Dwyane Wade's team, that Wade needed to be the guy to take the last shot, that he was proven closer, the guy who had done it before. So what happens twice in the 2012 playoffs? D-Wade closes out a game with a missed shot, and in both cases, LeBron gets hammered for not being aggressive and wanting to shoot. Guffaw? I thought that's what people wanted...