losers make sports great.
simply put, statistics cannot define a winner. no matter what the record books say, or hollinger's power rankings predict, any playoff team has a chance at the title. it's why we keep watching, year after year, through the slumps and rebuilding years.
it's the effort that makes me watch. last year's warriors team is a perfect example of both. a losing team with the effort and heart to succeed.
and it's the effort that makes basketball one of the best sports on the planet. teams just don't have the opportunities to rest and regroup they do in other sports, such as football and baseball.
(as an aside, this is also why soccer is one of the best sports. it literally never stops. players even have to run to get out of bounds to throw the ball back into play.)
in football, there is time to draw up plays, and time for the quarterback to refocus his troops. in its way, that makes football great, too.
but basketball is less forgiving when teams get down on themselves, as an opposing team uses momentum to go on significant runs.
but, at the same time, teams have to sustain their effort across all 48 minutes, or allow a team that could be put to bed in another sport a chance at a win.
effort is mental and physical. does anyone else get the feeling this spurs team is the least confident of any in the last 10 years? i think the last couple months have done the same thing to the team that it's done to its fans: the stars don't believe in the role players and the role players are too worried about having to prove themselves to make good plays.
watching duncan on the bench in the fourth quarter against the lakers, it's obvious the team is worried. it seems like it's been so long since we had a full game, and duncan isn't picking up the slack like he used to.
the spurs were a great team. they were great. we had three players that wouldn't allow us to lose in a challenge. now, that big 3 isn't getting it done, and they're not trusting their teammates to, either. but, then, why would they at this point?
i get the feeling the spurs don't believe in their effort anymore. they're enamored with their talent. and that is not the heart it takes to win championships.
i'm speaking in generalities here. there are exceptions. but i think pop encourages this culture.
how many games -- the lakers loss included -- did he pull out the starters with more than half the fourth quarter to play? it's as if he thinks the mental state of the team is so fragile that should the starters get blown out, we won't be able to compete in the playoffs.
on the one hand, it makes out point differential less important, since a lot of those blowouts could have been closer, but our bench played against another team's starters for significant minutes.
on the other, how can our team build any heart if our coach won't let us compete? is pop going to pull the same routine in the playoffs? will he just raise the white flag in the third quarter of a game 5 or 6?
maybe we can't play a whole game because our coach accepts losses.
that's not basketball and it's the worst kind of losing.