Well PTR, here I am in phx, the land of the sun and many pools and today..... broken dreams. Full of such enormous joy that I could hug each of you. (Wait...that was weird. Scratch that. I'll buy you a beer instead of the awkward man-hug. Let's just say I'm really happy to be in phx with what our team is doing.) Came in for Game 4 and honestly never saw Game 3 coming. I never imagined it would go and end the way it did. We typically (read: always) lay eggs/throw up bitch games/forget to get off the plane in Game 3s of the playoffs. It's not as typical as Game 1 losses, but still seemingly so typical that we SPURS fans have come to accept it. I wasn't the only one proclaiming a loss in Game 3, and I definately wasn't the only one surprised that we not only won, but blew them out of the gym. There were at least 12K phx fans utterly stunned at last night. So much so that the 'pride of the valley' was being booed from the 3rd quarter until......until.....well, it actually hasn't yet stopped here.
Nothing, absolutely NOTHING, compares with sitting in a sports bar in phx overhearing talk of "dirty" and "crooked" and "fixed" and "cowardly," and then seeing our boys play their best game of the season. Call me a cynic for expecting now that Game 4 must be destined for our choker game; but none-the-less. Seeing faces once filled with rage and passion as they accused us of whining and playing dirty now downcast and speechless.....was.....breathtaking. There's really nothing like it, and if you ever have a chance to intermingle with the enemy and potentially see the embarassment in them after a game like this, DO IT. It's actually been more satisfying for me beating these guys than it would be beating dallas or LA, and being in the midst of these fans makes it so much sweeter. 1.) These guys are infiniately better than the mavwrecks, who are still on the playoff bubble in my mind anyway. 2.) The fans of the suns are a much more special breed. I hate dallas, don't get me wrong, but at least their whining is only for a time. They play us well and usually take responsibility for their own shortcomings when it leads to a loss to the SPURS. From the constant one-ups of 'we're the better team' dating to years back, to the embarassing coaching display that D'oh always seems to top year after year, to the ever present sense of entitlement that each of their fans has; these guys are just REALLY rewarding to beat. Fortunately this year, we're not just beating them. We're completely owning and destroying them.
I've never been more excited about attending a playoff game before, and I can't wait to share the experiences afterwards. For now though, here's some funny tidbits about what's happening in arizona right now-
-Getting into town and to the bar, there's a definate palpable energy in town. phx is going to win tonight. They're going to win Sunday. They're going to take back this series and make history. There's no doubt, since last year's championship was stolen from them (you guys remember that?), it's destiny for this year to pan out. There's no doubt amoung the orange, everyone's excited and full of hope. I'm reminded of what it must have looked like to a bystander standing on the deck of the Titanic, watching people dance and listening to laughter and music.
-If I had a nickel for every person I heard say, "The SPURS are so dirty. They don't deserve to win anything," I'd have a shitload of nickels. And it's only the first quarter. Suddenly, upon collectively realizing that our point guard can ALSO be pretty good, the amount of drinks sold increases substantially. I'm settling back into my chair now, and refusing to remove my SPURS hat and monogrammed SPURS shirt. People aren't talking as much jive anymore.
-I had removed my hat and covered up the shirt somewhat, and was talking to a bartender, who wasn't aware that I was a SA fan. "We never should have gotten shaq, turns out everyone doubting the deal was right all along. How could we not see that he would literally kill us in the playoffs? I can't believe what's happening." Seriously. I've never in my life struggled so much stiffling laughter. Really?? You think that trading away your best defender and best full-court offensive threat for an over-the-hill foul machine that can't play more than 15 minutes a night was a bad idea?! Still??
-Some great media quotes from arizona-
- "Of course, it's not impossible to come all the way back, even though the Suns had never lost three consecutive games during the regular season, and even though no team in NBA playoff history has recovered from an 0-3 deficit. But you'd have a hard time finding believers in this team now, including the guys who wear the uniform." This one makes me happy. Really happy. It's very obvious here that the heart of this team is dead and will not be revived. If we shoot over 25% in Game 4, there should be no reason it won't be a sweep. The entire area along with this team has been demoralized to the point of writing off this season.
- (about Coach D'oh and his choice of words) "This time, it was his pregame assessment that his team's defense was not the problem. Instead, he claimed it was his offense that needed liberating, that his team needed to get out and run the floor and play loose. Alas, that team died a long time ago." D'ohs on the hotseat now, gents. This meltdown is being completely blamed on him, and I don't entirely disagree with that. But I do think it's astounding that perhaps shaq's most unappreciated ability is his knack for deflecting/avoiding blame. We'll see what he has to say after the series though.
- (continuing jollyroger's great post about reporters attempting to generate copy by interviewing SPURS, and when Pop was asked about phx feeling the heat before Game 2's tipoff) "Your characterization is relatively inflammatory and I don't think anybody is desperate." Again, check.....and.....mate. No time for media games, zona, we're on the road to a championship and can't exit right now.
Tomorrow's game will be fun to watch as a SPURS fan. I've been to many playoff games and never been in an environment of such despair and hopelessness. It starts at the top, includes the team, and resonates even through the city. There is literally NO fight left in this team and we have them down. It's time to put the foot down on their necks and leave no window of hope or belief. I have no doubt that they will be psyched up for Game 4 and come out strong, as a matter of pride if anything; but if we can keep our composure, continue to play 48 minutes of strong defense, and get even a modest production from our bench..... we'll be resting for the next few days waiting for New Orleans. I know I seem possibly overly optimistic, but the spirit here is heavy and overwhelmed..... and we have Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and a quick little French guy. We're not losing Game 4.
I'll be up behind the SPURS bench near the media area, wearing either a home Bowen jersey or an Argentina Manu jersey, so look for me. I'll also be smiling rather annoyingly. I'll post pictures after the game (little kids crying, men and women cursing and frowning, stevie's window shutting a little more, etc.) if someone teaches me how.
P.S. Reading back through this, it actually appears quite mean and vindictive. Late last night after reading the thread, I started to feel a little bad for this cute little team, and their fruitless efforts. Let me say that I actually felt just a little bad about my pride and my insensitivity.... until today. I picked up my tickets from a season ticket holder, and had to hide the fact that I was a SPURS fan. I didn't deny SA or profess love to phx, but certainly didn't volunteer details. Thought it might be fun to break into the circle of trust that these nitwits have. That, and I was scared he might back out upon realizing that I am a fan of the NBA Champions. Without even prompting, it's amazing how these fans will immediately launch into an excuse-ridden rant about the reasons for their failures- dirty SPURS, bad officials, league conspiracies, global warming. All of this while selling out the tickets to the game in which they are MOST needed because of their disappointment. Nodding and smiling sheepishly, my small feelings of sorrow and pity for this team left. If you are feeling the same for some reason- kinda bad for how awful we're making them look and kinda bad that one of their "good guy" players is missing out...... don't. I've decided this trip that I hate phx fans more than any other (and that's truly saying something with dallas and denver and detroit vying for the title), and that the sorrow and heartache they're feeling now is sweet justice for a lifetime of constant whining, moaning, dodging responsibility, and playing bandwagon media-friendly basketball. There's a special place in hell reserved for arrogent pricks like snaq and D'oh, and they're entering it now. Nothing should give us greater joy than sweeping the dreams of millions of suns fans out the quickly closing window of stevie's career. If you still struggle, think of the dozens of people already today that I've talked to, that immediately reminded me how we stole the Championship from them last year and reminded me that they were the true champions.
It doesn't get much sweeter to be a SPURS fan in the playoffs. Sorry if I rambled or didn't make sense in spots and that it was Stampler-long. I'm not proofing because it's so damn lengthy. See ya'll tomorrow....
GO SPURS GO