I've been a Spurs fan for a long time. I have become rather accustomed to a certain pattern of media coverage for my Spurs - a diet if you will. I have never lived in San Antonio, so pretty much have had to rely on major media outlets. Continuing with the analogy of a diet, it's been pretty much bread and water. AP recaps of games, and the rare article on Spurs history, with platitudes and such, that is more like a eulogy of a living person than an article about anything relevant and current. Bread and water. I remember back to the title runs in 2005 and 2007, I had to troll for articles about the Spurs. There weren't many, and most of the time they were a rehash of AP recaps, quotes from players that didn't say much, and perhaps an unenlightened analysis of what it would take for either team to win the next game. Here's some potato soup to go with your bread and water. And when the Spurs finally won? An article or two that went on for a ways without saying too much, measured praise for the new Champs. Here's some scraps of meat. And the very next day? Nothing. It's like sports journalists of all types were collectively wiping their brows, heaving huge sighs of relief that this was finally over, and excited to start covering something interesting - like eating contests, snail races, or baseball.
And so as a loyal Spurs fan, I complained. I complained about the lack of coverage. I complained about the lack of respect. I complained about the lack of interest by journalists in one of the greatest teams the world has ever, and will ever see. I was suffered through all of the "Spurs are boring" crap from my friends, and more recently the "Spurs are old and boring" crap, and much more recently, the "Spurs lost in the first round . . . TO MEMPHIS!" as if Memphis last year were the Bobcats of 2012. You don't argue with people like that. Just chalk them up as ignorant.
Now I just want to say, that I love PtR. I do. And I enjoy the other Spurs blogs out there as well, especially San Antonio Express, who puts out a lot of articles daily. But come on. Let's face it. We're all biased. We're all sipping on the same Kool-Aid. I'm not entirely sure how objective we can be. I mean, I think I'm being objective, and then I go look at a Lakers or Clippers blog, and they think they are being objective, and both of them think that their respective teams, would have or should have totally destroyed the 2012 Spurs. Somewhere in there, objectivity has been lost. Which is why I like going to the major media outlets and seeing good Spurs articles. Hopefully they are a little bit more objective than I am, and I want them to tell me what they see, reach conclusions, give support for those conclusions and then compare to my own. Bread and water though.
Until about 2 weeks ago.Andrew Bynum and the Lakers destroy those dirty, boring, old, Spurs. FINALLY the masses can celebrate their demise. Only it didn't happen. As we all know the Lakers got destroyed. Bynum was pissed. He GUARANTEED they would win the next game. Kobe would be back. To add to the drama, there were some back to backs involved. More people were tuning in. Lakers were again beat handily, and some people were starting to take notice. (For those of you unclear on this point, journalist are people too - even the "sport" variety.) I started seeing some information here and there, about how much fun it was to watch the Spurs play. Andrew Lynch of the Suns blog on Truehoop network was one of the first, and Andrew Harper of ESPN's Daily Dime Live and other stuff followed soon after. And of course for better or worse, Skip Bayless is always on the Spurs Bandwagon. There are a few other guys who seemed to actually have watched a couple of Spurs games this season, and gave them some props, but everybody was kind of conservative as the playoffs started.
I really don't know the whole progression of this thing, but towards the end of the season, as the Spurs weren't losing and were blowing people out of the water, they rose quickly in John Hollinger's automated rankings, until they sat firmly on top. Now Hollinger is a well respected stat geek, and I guess seeing them pop to the top made him dig into the stats. He started drinking Spurs kool--aid. I don't pretend to know how this guy does his thing, but when he looked at the stats, he was a believer, and wasn't afraid to say so. I think that was like a stone rolling downhill.
Another big moment was Bill Simmons watching B2B Clippers/Spurs games. He gulped some kool-aid and absolutely swooned over the Spurs in his article. Bill Simmons is big time in the sports journalism world. Super big time. Journalists read his stuff for fun. And for one, people started watching Spurs basketball, and secondly, now it was cool to think the Spurs could win it all.
I don't know if any of you have checked in the past couple of days, but it is 1000 feet of all you can eat buffet. It is a 40 course meal. My system is in shock. I'm used to bread and water. This must be what it is like to be a Lakers or Heat fan. No wonder they are delirious most of the time. Folks we've been sipping the kool-aid for a while, wanting to believe, daring not to believe, trying to keep our feet on the ground, trying to maintain some level of objectivity so we can retain some credibility. The world of sports journalism has lost it. Completely. They are absolutely chugging the kool-aid. And they are passing it. And if I'm not mistaken, there is something else in there. These people are HIGH . . . and this is the strangest part . . . on the Spurs?
People are talking 16-0, regardless of opponent. People are talking greatest team since ______. Popovich timeout phrases are going viral - like multiple phrases. Bill Simmons whom we vilified for putting an asterisk on every single one of the Spurs championships proclaimed that if they win this year, regardless of the number of losses going forward, they will have wiped every asterisk away from this season, lockout, injuries, etc., because of the level of domination they have shown thus far, and presumably will show going forward.
Tim Legler said something interesting in an interview and I think it perfectly illustrates why Spurs get no "love" from the media at large. When asked what he thought about how the Spurs are playing now, he said, "I've been missing out on a lot this year." Translation: "They are playing beautiful basketball and though I have been doing analysis all year on all of the different teams, I haven't really seen them play." The media doesn't hate us. They are just so busy watching Lakers, Heat, Knicks, Clippers, with some Celts, Thunder, and Magic thrown in for flavor, they don't get around to watching other teams much.
Minirant - I think it is a travesty that the Spurs have been playing basketball which is beautiful to behold, for the last part of the year and into the playoffs, and so many people are only coming to behold it now. It is a recrimination upon the sports journalism industry that they haven't been reporting on it in such a way as to make it a "have to" event to watch the Spurs play. It is inexcusable. Part of their jobs is to analyze and help us enjoy the game. We can all read the box score. I can't believe that it has taken until now. /minirant
Minirant 2 - I think there should be a full disclosure policy that a journalist when making an analysis about a team, say how many times and how recently they have watched a team play. For instance, "I watched the Lakers game Tuesday night and ________." Or in the case of Israel Gutierrez, "I don't think the Spurs are the title favorite, or even title contenders. I don't even think they will make it past the Clippers. But to be fair, I haven't seen them play since January 17 against the Heat." How many fewer absolutely stupid things would we have to hear if journalists had to expose themselves that way? /minirant 2
One guy that's completely filled up on Kool-aid already, and has no room for more is Israel Gutierrez. Of course it is Heat Kool-aid. I wonder how that is sitting on his stomach? I wonder if he has subjected himself to a Spurs game yet? And I wonder how Jamele whatshername is feeling about her pick right now?
Well Spurs fans, this is an interesting time. The Mayans may be right. We are definitely seeing strange, strange behavior. Enjoy it. Who would have thought that WE of all people, WE long time Spurs fans, would be the voice of moderation regarding the Spurs 2012 title run?
Buy stock in Kool-aid, because if Spurs win tonight, people might just start swimming in it.