This season was supposed to be great. From start to finish. Going 82 and 0 wasn’t an impossibility. From making the first big splash of the offseason by acquiring Richard Jefferson, to making heads turn by selecting DeJuan Blair in the draft; from Pop telling us our defense would return to the glory days of opposing players’ accusations of dirty play, to Spurs owner Peter Holt confidently proclaiming that we were ready to kick some ass, Spurs fans and pundits, alike, saw this season with immeasurable expectations, me included.
This year was our year, right? To put it mildly, not quite.
In the midst of our worst stretch of the season and the stench of Rage’s play, thus far, fans are weary. We weren’t expecting this. We weren’t supposed to lose to the Bulls in the second game of the season. We weren’t supposed to be this bad against good teams or give up leads in the third quarter, traditionally our quarter to clamp down defensively. Fan reaction to poor play from talent of this caliber has been predictable: trade Rage and Parker, play the young guys, stop the small ball, Pop’s lost the team so fire him, etc.
This was our year. There’s still time to do something to salvage our title hopes, right?
I’m not writing to suggest any trade possibilities, improved coaching machinations, or who needs to step up. I’m writing to say that, yes, with this group of guys, this is still our year. I’m also writing to try and tame the wildfire that is “Panic Mode”, which quickly spreads through a fanbase of a struggling, yet talented, team leaving only a trail of needless banter about team turmoil, trades and tanking.
Our expectations coming into the season blinded us from seeing this team for what they truly are: a rebuilt and revamped team trying to win a title. This isn’t like previous championship years. Yes, they were all different from each other, but only by a few key players and only after having time playing together. This year is a completely new team expected to win the title now. Yes, the Big Three still carry on, but when over half your team is different, stumbling blocks turn into craters the size of Shaq’s ego. Problems and mistakes magnify in the spotlight of the Spurs fanbase, which has taken for granted success. We should take success for granted; it’s only natural when Duncan and Pop are still around.
It’s the NBA Championship or bust with Duncan and Pop and the way we’re playing right now, it’s a huge bust. But we have to stop thinking that every game we play is a playoff game against the Lakers. We can’t give up on a team that hasn’t even reached the All-Star Break. Yes, Parker’s hurt, Duncan’s playing to avoid injury, the chemistry isn’t there, Rage isn’t living up to his salary. I know the argument of time is tired and the fans are disenchanted of watching our team struggle mightily against inferior clubs. But just because an argument’s tired doesn’t make it any less valid.
This is going to take the entire season, the ENTIRE season, for things to come together. It’s a long season and seemingly longer playoffs and we’ll have to endure one hell of a crazy and difficult year, probably our hardest year, but we’ll have that parade on the Riverwalk this year.
This is still our year.