Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Mr. Franklin, please allow me to update your statement and add two more things that are as certain as death and taxes in this world: Rodrigo Duterte saying something crazy and the San Antonio Spurs winning.
In the last 25 NBA Playoffs, the Spurs have only missed 1 postseason appearance. Yes, just one.
In the 19 years that Tim Duncan played, the Spurs have never missed the playoffs. Yes, never missed the playoffs.
I don’t know if they have their own collective bargaining agreement with the devil or what, but that’s an impressive feat for a franchise playing in the always rowdy and tight Western Conference.
Now with LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard leading the team, the Spurs are ready to continue the winning tradition. And yet, no one’s talking about them again.
Just like last season.
And the season before that.
And the season before that season.
They have been so accustomed flying under the radar that we might as well send the whole Spurs team across enemy territories and gather any information we need.
So what is it with the “boring” San Antonio Spurs that have us switching the channels from ESPN to something much more exciting (Masterchef)?
How are they boring when they do have the best coach (arguably in history) and two of the top players in the NBA today?
Kawhi is the 2nd best all-around player behind LeBron James, and it’s very much possible he’ll win his 1st MVP and 3rd straight Defensive Player of the Year this season. Aldridge can pretty much make a case that he’s the best power forward in the game today (he has managed to stay healthier than Anthony Davis and Blake Griffin).
But they lack the personality to be media darlings nor have a strong social media presence (which is apparently very important nowadays) that a casual fan can relate to. (Popovich has the personality but definitely not a media darling)
Do they play a boring style of basketball?
Last season, they averaged 103.5 points per game (10th best) and held opponents to 93 points (best). They share the ball, swinging it from side to side before finding the best shot available (just watch this and try not to shed a tear while doing so).
But are they boring us out because they’re dominating the games too much (10.6 pt differential, 2nd best)? (And are we that crazy that a team dominating another team is what we have now considered boring?)
Are they boring because they’re playing in a small market?
The market for San Antonio is actually huge too. It’s the 7th most populated city behind the likes of Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston and the 2nd most in the state of Texas. And yet we still consider them a small market team.
So why aren’t we talking about them when they have a top coach, top players, and playing in a not so small market anyway?
It might be because the Spurs, despite their own success, would always have to contend with a team that was deemed better than them coming into the season. In the last 12 years (including this one), bookmakers have San Antonio as favorites in just two seasons — 2006 (+180) and 2008 (+350) (where they actually lost both).
It’s none more so evident than this season as the Golden State Warriors (aka the team your friend who started watching NBA yesterday is already a fan of) are the overwhelming favorites (probably the first team in NBA betting history where you have to wager more than $100 to win the said $100 back).
To start their new season without Duncan, the Spurs were given the task of trying out the new-look Warriors at Oracle Arena in one of the most anticipated opening games since the LeBron-Wade-Bosh welcoming party in 2011 in Florida. I wouldn’t blame anybody if they thought this game had “blowout” and “Spurs first loss” written all over it.
So what did San Antonio do?
They changed the script and dominated Golden State from start to finish. It was so bad that the game had zero Stephen Curry shimmy, zero Kevin Durant is not nice moments (still waiting for Russell Westbrook tweet any minute now), and most importantly, zero Draymond Green kicking anyone in the groin area.
Side note: since being up 3–1 in the NBA Finals, the Warriors have lost 4 in a row.
The Aldridge-Gasol tandem looked good as they handled the boards well and rarely allowed 2nd chance points from the Golden State frontcourt (RIP Aldridge-is-unhappy-so-let’s-trade-him-rumors). The bench, led by Road-Runner-personified Patty Mills and Jonathan Simmons (who he play for?), was more than outstanding. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili both had don’t-forget-about-us games. And Leonard? He set a career high (35) by making half of his shots (10) and all of his free throws (15) to go along with 5 steals, so yeah, not much to talk about.
Even if it was just one game, the Spurs provided a blueprint to beat these Warriors (but I wouldn’t want to be the Pelicans as Golden State looks to avenge their loss). Pounding them on the boards (+13 off, +7 def) and taking care of the ball (13 TOs as a team) limits any transition opportunities for the Golden State.
Who’s to say that these two are really the Achilles heels of the new superteam? It’s a long season and we’re barely just getting started.
But hey, at least we got to talk about the San Antonio Spurs again!
– David Gamboa