I, like most of you, love watching Spurs basketball. I also love reading PTR, sometimes even more than watching the games. PTR gives me context and gives each player a depth that I appreciate more when watching the games. The games become more than just basketball - it is about the interaction between the players, the interaction between the coach and his team, the playing out of conversations here on PTR.
However, lately, again like most of you, I have been feeling a little bummed out about all things Spurs. But not because of the losing. No team can win every single time, that would just get boring. I am bummed because of all the negativity, here and on other sites around the marvelous connection of people we call the internet.
So that made me question why I follow this particular team and this particular blog.
First, let's look at why we are Spurs fans. Some of you are from San Antonio, so you were brainwashed into it. No offense, but if you had been living in Boston you would be rabid foaming at the mouth leprechauns. Others are from Argentina and don't know any better. Um, I mean they are sucked into this soap opera by a certain demigod we all admire and love. Well, maybe not all of us.
What about the rest of us? San Antonio a small market with few exported fans. Obviously we did not pick the Spurs because they are winners otherwise we would all just be Lakers now. Nope, we picked a team because something about that team resonates with us. The team personality. What the players and coach represent, how they do things, how they act on and off the court. I loved David Robinson back from his college days (yes, I am that old, deal with it), but to be honest did not really follow him in the NBA - I was purely a college basketball fan until a few years ago. A few years ago I read a few articles about Tim Duncan and how ego-less he was, and that led me to reading about the Spurs and their outlook in general. Then I witnessed the craziness that was Manu and the genius that was Pop and was sold. Not because Manu was so great, though he was. Not because Tim Duncan is the greatest power forward of all time, though he is. Because of the attitude! Totally ego-less. Manu comes off the bench. Tim doesn't act anything like a primadonna superstar.
And Pop, wow, Pop is just amazing. He always gives refreshing interviews and always give credit to the players. I have never heard him toot his own horn. But what I really liked about him is how he looks at the long term, not the short term. Even Tim's first year, Pop worried more about Tim's development, i.e. the long term, than winning in the short term. Year after year, managing minutes, tinkering with line-ups instead of assuming he already knows the best thing to do based on the previous year - be honest, that is what most coaches and fans do. He is constantly teaching and learning and takes nothing for granted. Even when he yells at his players they all go out together to eat afterwards etc. Most of all, he is not afraid to try crazy things if he thinks they will help in the long term.
The themes for the Spurs are: team concept and constant improvement over time. That really resonates with me - I don't care about winning or losing in the short term, just constant improvement, and focus when it really counts. But the non-ego, total-team thing is what I really love more than anything else.
I have read countless posts and articles that say similar things about Duncan, Manu, Parker, Pop. That is a big part of why they represent the Spurs and everything I like about the Spurs. And make no mistake - Pop is a huge reason why the team personality is the way it is. He has no patience for big egos or non-team players. (The other big reason is that we have had stars like David R. and Timmeh that set the tone). Pop works really hard to create good chemistry and tries to draft or otherwise bring in players that fit into the system. And I don't mean on the court basketball system.
I have heard it said (from only one poster, but still) that superstars would not play for Pop. That is probably true for some superstars - would LeBron ever agree to a system where he is not King James? Where the organization does not bow to his every need? Same with Kobe. Watch the games - tries to coach as much as Phil, and part of the genius of PJ is that he lets Kobe be Kobe. Pop would not allow that, it is not the Spurs system. If we fire Pop and bring in Phil Jackson and move to LA maybe we could entice Kobe to sign with us, but that would be a completely different team. Only the name on the jersey would be the same.
Maybe you feel the same way, maybe not. But I feel strongly about the team personality. That is why I personally would not do, for example, a trade of LeBron straight up for Tim. LeBron is the greatest player in the game right now, but it is more than just about skills of the star - it is about character and personality of the team.
Tim, Manu, Pop and even Frenchie resonate with me, LeBron does not. That is why I even prefer the failed Jefferson experiment to a trade for Carter or Wallace (oops, just lost a bunch of you here). Win or lose, I am following a team trying to win the Spurs way. If I just wanted to follow a winner I could have switched to the Lakers.
One day, Pop will retire. I don't see any way that R.C.Buford will fire him, any more than I see any way that the greatest power forward of all time gets traded. Because like it or not, those two define the Spurs as we think of them right now. Hopefully we can keep the Spurs personality interesting by picking the right replacements, but it will be the end of an era no matter what.
On a related note, why are we here. No, not here in the universe, I am not that deep. Why are we on PTR? There are other blogs. 48MOH is a masterpiece (even if the heathens talk about trading Manu). There are forums where we can rant and rave and vent and ogle photos of beautiful women. I personally always complain about lack of time, yet choose to spend much of my limited free time over here. Why? Mainly to ogle photos of beautiful fish.
But also because of the particular personality of this community. PTR, to me, matches the Spurs perfectly. Irreverent, yet thoughtful. Demanding, yet egoless. Funny, sarcastic, insulting even but without true vitriol. Everything is done lightly, even the RJ and small-ball bashing is done with self-effacing humor. The quotes, the nicknames, everything. We want to win as much as the next blog, but are almost never cruel about it. This really is a community in much the way the Spurs really are a team.
There are few other places that a poster can go to another country and other posters - without ever having met him before - will house him, entertain him, show him around, and feel really blessed to be able to do so.
What happens if we change that? What happens if we here at PTR stand up and DEMAND things from Spurs management, if we vent and rant until our fingers bleed, if we belittle the team, management, coaching and each other?
At best, nothing. Buford is not firing Pop based on our rants. At worst, we spread this malaise that seems to be gripping the Spurs world these days. This is not a team that gets fired up with a kick in the pants or depressing posts - this is a team that thrives on teamwork, support, and just the pure joy of playing.
But the other thing that happens is that we change the personality of PTR. For me personally that would be a really sad thing, though it would suddenly create more free time.
Hipuks has shamed me into adding some extra words here.
First, I was not referring only to GT, but to negativity in general. Not just on here, but around the net, including 48MOH. I don't mean we should all agree and blindly support everything Spurs, that would be boring, just like never losing and winning every game by 50 points. We have all had strong discussions about things and I have questioned Pop's decisions at times too. One of the things I like about PTR vs many team blogs is that we don't have mindless cheerleading and the core writers here will poke fun at Pop or players regularly. It's just that there is a point beyond which mindless negativity, just like mindless cheerleading, gets tiring.
Secondly, I was commenting on what *I* like about the Spurs and PTR. Obviously there are many people that think winning is the only thing that matters. And hey, they buy jerseys too. But as long as they realize the trade-offs and would willingly make them. I chose the Spurs because of the team personality. But those poor suckers, um I mean lucky souls living in the area may not give a hoot about personality and just want their team to win.
But Hipuks makes a really good point. We *need* people like Ghostown and others to force us to think about different points of view and to question what we think is important. If fact, that is what made me think about what *I* like about PTR and the Spurs and prompted me to post.
I would also appreciate comments about why *you* are a Spurs fan and why you hang around these parts.