It has been a couple of weeks since the Spurs were sent fishing by the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Spurs fanbase has been split in either vicariously rooting for the Thunder, wishing the LeBron James schadenfreude to end by hoping he FINALLY gets a ring, hoping for a meteor to strike either the Chesapeake Energy Arena or the American Airline Arena, or speculating about offseason scenarios (like bringing over international prospects like Erazem Lorbek or Adam Hanga, or trade scenarios involving everyone's favorite Ginger Choker).
But all these things perhaps point to an unsettling truth: We ARE a spoiled fanbase.
To think of ourselves as not too different from the Laker fan mindset - "we're only another piece away from title contention!" "trade this guy, he's too soft!" "we didn't win a ring this year, so it's an asterisk title!" - may seem unconventional, even heretical, by the standards of the Spurs organization - and the fanbase that seeks to emulate it. But two decades of being an elite team - from the days when the Admiral David Robinson lead the Spurs to contention, but seemingly didn't have the pieces or system around him to truly make the jump to title contender, until Tim Duncan came along and graced our team with his transcendent, once-in-a-generation talent, finally allowing the Admiral to win a title - and retire with another. Then with Duncan leading alone, he still had support - a young, French point guard who answers to the name of Tony Parker, who no matter how much criticism he gets for not being the best all around guy to play the 1, or more accurately because he doesn't have Duncan's unique mix of an unassuming nature and a killer instinct, and instead cavorts around and gets an eye injury in the process, is still pretty darn good. Or that enigmatic Argentinian Manu Ginobili, whose Eurostep is a thing of beauty, who can score in a variety of ways, from a clutch trey to a thunderous dunk to a slashing blink-and-you'll-miss-it layup, and who frustrates 29 fanbases at being good enough to sell contact and be too white to deserve calls. Add to those guys who have stepped up over the years, like Sean Elliott, who graciously accepted being the third option once Duncan arrived, and hit a certain clutch 3 on Memorial Day; or Bruce Bowen, who stopped up guys like Kobe or LeBron - even if he frustrated 29 other fanbases for being such a burr on D he was called dirty. Or the underrated Avery Johnson, who hit the game winner that gave San Antonio its first championship. Or a guy like Stephen Jackson, who shot 3s like there was no tomorrow and helped clinch 2003 and very nearly helped set up game 7. Or even the rookie Kawhi Leonard, who although still overshadowed by the big 3, gained enough of Pop's trust to become a regular starter - and his work ethic made sure he didn't vanish when the stakes were highest.
At the end of the day, perhaps having 4 championships will never satiate a fanbase used to winning, that even coming up two wins short of a Finals berth makes the worrywarts among us want to blow up the roster. But if you ask me, I wouldn't have it any other way. While the team has come up short many times, at least we're always watching basketball in late April. At least we don't have to worry about shutting down our best players to gamble on a draft pick (except 1997, but there was a little luck involved). At least we're not under criticism for not delivering on promised championships (not 1, not 2, not 3...).
While the end of the Duncan Era will not be far off, at the least it has been an amazine ride.