I had pretty much decided at the beginning of this year that my summer vacation was going to be to San Antonio so that I could watch a Spurs playoff game in person, based on a feeling of optimism about the team this season and knowing that I am running out of opportunities to watch Duncan and Ginobili. Although my optimism that ran white hot through most of the season has certainly been tempered by our recent injury woes, it has also reinforced for me the urgency to make the trip this year, and I am nearing the point where I need to start making firm plans. So if you have any tips for a prospective tourist, please join me after the jump.
First, let me tell you a little bit about myself and my motivation for this trip. I am a lifelong Spurs fan, who happens to live in Greenville, South Carolina. Needless to say, I have never attended a Spurs home game. I have seen them play live however, once in Charlotte and another time in Atlanta. Ironically enough, both times the game came on the tail end of a back to back and Duncan didn't play. I saw these games 2 or 3 years apart, so it kind of feels like Pop conspired against me ever actually getting to watch Duncan. The Atlanta game at least, I got to watch Parker drop 40+ points, and witnessed a rather amusing scene where they put Parker and Ginobili on the Kiss Cam during a timeout, and Ginobili good naturedly obliged. While fun, these experiences obviously don't compare to watch the Spurs in playoff mode in front of a charged up home crowd, so I figure if I'm going to do this, I'm going to go big and do it right.
Due to pesky real life constraints (my wife's grad school class schedule being the main culprit), the window of time I have for this trip is somewhere between May 12th and June 6th. Right now I'm thinking I'll do the first week of that window (actually I would fly out that Friday, the 13th, and fly back Sunday, the 22nd, to give myself a full 9 days, so that I should be guaranteed at least two, maybe three homes games will happen while I'm there, depending on how Stern's crazy scheduling falls.) My thought process on this is that should fall about the time of a second round match with either the Mavs or Thunder depending on how the final standings work out, and while it is tempting to go later in May for a matchup with the Lakers, or dare I dream it, in June for The Finals, I obviously run the risk of the Spurs being bounced beforehand, whereas I'm pretty confident we'll at least make the second round. Aside from basketball, I also thought it might be better to go early to avoid hotel rates being marked up for Memorial Day and such.
Enough of me talking, here is where I need the input of San Antonio locals:
First- Is there some type of non-basketball related events going on in that time period that would affect my decision on the timing of this. For instance, does San Antonio have the greatest Memorial Day celebration ever, and forget basketball, I need to worry about attending that. Or should I definitely not come May 13th-22nd, because that happens to be the one week every year that they drain the River Walk and refill it with sewer sludge. And believe me, I've already tried convincing my wife that she should skip her spring exams so that we can go the week of Cinco de Mayo, but alas, no luck.
Second- On the basketball front, how feasible is my plan. Obviously, I'm not a season ticket holder, so will I even be able to get tickets to playoff games. Suggestions on how I can do so, and how much I can expect to pay are appreciated. I'm coming at this from the perspective that this is a one time trip for me, so I don't mind spending the cash, or rather running up the credit card debt, to make it happen, but it would be better if I could go into this with my eyes wide open about what to expect.
Finally- General tourist recommendations. I'm going to be there 9 days, with probably a max of 3 games, so that leaves a lot of other time to kick around. Obviously the Alamo and River Walk are priorities. A friend of mine goes to Texas Law School, so I'm sure a trip to Austin will be in the cards. Any other attractions? Basketball is an excuse for me to make the trip, but I also just want to see this part of the country. I've been up and down pretty much all of the east coast, but have never really been to Texas other than layovers in Dallas.
Also, practical advice such as hotels to stay at, should I rent a car to get around while I'm there or will public transport be enough, etc.
Thanks in advance for your comments, and Go Spurs Go.