Is it wrong to root against greatness?

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 20: Tim Duncan #21 and Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs celebrate late in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 20, 2011 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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...

    The annoying thing with LeBron is that by going to Miami, he gives all the ammunition in the world to the Skip Baylesses of the world that he isn't

    We should also consider that the average distance of a major league fly ball is a little over 300 feet. So even at its most valid, even if the wall was the accepted 210 feet away, the homers still amount to little more than pop flies off a horrible pitcher who gave up 51 runs. On a purely statistical basis, Clarke's game is easily the greatest batting performance of all time. But with all the uncertainty involved with a minor league game in 1902, in a stadium that may as well have been a silo, it's hard to take it all that seriously. But hey, a record's a record. And here's another weird tidbit: Clarke died on June 15, 1949 -- 47 years to the day that he hit eight home runs.
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