There's often a moment in time when the experience was more important than the score.
Watching the Spurs
For those fortunate enough to witness a Spurs game in person, where they sit in the AT&T Center is often a testament to affordability and circumstance. Sitting everywhere from the nose bleeds to courtside and viewing the game in person often stirs distinct emotional experiences and memories according to seating arrangements.
The characters in this article could not be more diverse, yet all shared a mutual experience: a weathered 46 year old man, a father with his 13 year old son and a row of young children, all of whom are attending their first Spurs game.
The 46 year old is of modest means. His last five years in San Antonio have been spent working diligently in a low-paying, labor-intensive environment to support his family. Grateful for every day, he and his surviving family members lived through the tragedy of Katrina. Not originally a Spurs fan, he converted once he moved to San Antonio. And if not for the generosity of a total stranger giving him a ticket, he never would have been able to afford a Spurs game. My reward for driving him to the game, since he had no means of transportation, was being able to attend the game myself.
The father treated his son to the Spurs game and they sat next to us. It was not the father's first attendance, but it was the first time that he brought his son along. Later in the game, it became apparent that he too was a family man of modest means who could only afford the purchase of the tickets and nothing else.
The group of children sitting just in front of us was attending their first Spurs game courtesy of one of their parents, providing their child his greatest wish for his birthday. The birthday boy's favorite player was clearly Manu Ginobili. The birthday boy was easy to spot in his group of friends all donning Manu's jersey. They were all extremely excited to be there.
From Where We Sat
It didn't matter. All that mattered to these first time attendees was the fact they were at the game. And what transpired in those two and a half hours was one of the most memorable moments I've experienced as a Spurs fan.
The 46 year old was awestruck at the children's innocence as they sat in the row in front of us. Throughout the game, his excitement was reminiscent of a child opening gifts on Christmas day. He stood and cheered his favorite player, Tim Duncan, even when Timmy was not on the court. His excitement and praise to his favorite player left many around him smiling and appreciative of his unbridled support. And as he noticed himself carrying on, he made sure to not offend their privacy, yet gently encouraged others to join his vocal escapades. It made it all the more fun being seated next to him, as his enthusiasm was pulsating a warm feeling in the cavity of my chest. Giddy is what some would call it.
Simultaneously, on the right side, the father and son were diligently watching the events of the game unfold. With astute knowledge, the father was instructing, like a play-by-play announcer, the finer details regarding the action at hand. The son, responding like an apprentice, was not distracted by the surrounding atmosphere and hoopla. Their obvious joy and love as a father and son made you appreciate how the Spurs help in creating memories for a family. At half time, I discreetly learned of the duo's inability to afford the purchase of minor concessions. With that knowledge, we offered our purchases stating we could not possibly consume all of it and it would go to waste. The father graciously accepted in order to provide the son the full experience of attending a game. We gave as we had received, and it made it all the more rewarding.
The row of children sitting in front of us had a wonderful, albeit altogether different, experience. Their focus was not so much on the game, except when the birthday boy made everyone aware of Manu's greatness. They were more interested in the surrounding music, lights, antics of the Coyote; the overall wonderment of experiencing such an atmosphere for the first time. Their unfiltered passion and excitement were well displayed for those around to not only see, but infectiously enjoy. I have continued appreciation in how the Spurs administer positive entertainment so its youthful members can join the fold of Spurs supporters.
Innocent and Pure
I was placed into a surrounding nucleus of uncorrupt and non-judgmental fans. It resurrected some long lost memories of when I first followed the Spurs. Before knowing the x's and o's of the game, the politics of contracts or labor disputes, we were these innocent children enjoying the game for what it was. People young, or young at heart, sharing a precious moment with themselves, a group, or beloved family members, enjoying a Spurs game with hardly a concern of who played or didn't play, without a thought of questioning a coach's decision. It was pure enjoyment for enjoyment's sake. The moment was heartwarming and reminiscent of a time long ago when the simple joy of the game was enough. And like back then, the location didn't matter; attending in person, watching on TV, or listening on the radio, all views of the Spurs were innocent and pure.
For this game, sitting in that spot, surrounded by that innocence, the view couldn't have been better and I enjoyed the moments it allowed me to relive.