Despite steadfast insistence on my part to engage in what can best be described as a mercurial relationship with PtR, Wilco and I maintain an open line of communication, mostly due to the fact that I won't ever leave him alone. It's through this never ending cascade of brief and opinionated jabs that the body of this short piece came to be. Simply put, this is how I see the San Antonio Spurs at this precise moment.
Taking a cue from the title, which is a label I chose to give myself in lieu of settling on "cynical", "pessimistic", or outrightly "negative", I feel it's best to let those around PtR who are less familiar with my serious side know exactly how I feel about not only the Spurs' current set of predicaments, but also the Spurs themselves throughout the 18 years I've followed them more intently. I choose mostly to occupy my time on this site by insisting on never being serious, and applying a well manicured body of sarcasm to just about anything I can get my literary hands on. To me, serious is boring, and nowhere is that more true than in my opinions on sports journalism. Put succinctly, I really hate it. The rote recitation of facts and analysis remind me of something you'd see in a high school science book if it was completely immature and had a hypertrophied sense of irrational justice. I hate it. I hate it almost as much as I hate losing. The parallel is about to be drawn arrow straight, I assure you.
Last year, when the Spurs were in the midst of that athletic chemical spill they had against the Grizzlies, I had bandied about with JRW over an article in which I detailed a recent loss I'd suffered in a pickup game. It wasn't until after the series had ended that I was able to realize that I have a nearly identical emotional investment with the Spurs win/loss record as I do with my own. Shortly thereafter however, the lockout descended the NBA into a journalistic dark age, and I decided that it was more fun to write about nonsense, as usual. It wasn't until the last two games that I was able to recall my temperamental discovery in any tangible capacity.
After the Spurs lost game 3, I relayed to JRW that I had not even watched the game out of sheer expectation that what would unfold ended up being exactly what did unfold. He probed enough to get me to elaborate on my decision, and I informed him that I not not watched an entire playoff or finals game in which the Spurs participated since 2006. The reason, I told him, was simple. I had realized at the unfortunate end of the 2006 WC Semis that I simply couldn't ride through the postseason with San Antonio any longer. I took it way too hard in a way that would only be rational were I actually on the court myself.
I've never been what I've heard referred to as a "good loser". Quite on the contrary, I am a terrible loser of such magnitude that the inner turmoil I cast myself into following a defeat would make Bruce Banner blush. I don't believe in losing well, because losing tends never to be a good thing. In my athletic life, I've taken great pains to ensure that I experienced as few defeats as possible, all the while wishing I had the luxury I do in the myriad video games I've switched to "easy" during the darkest hours, if only to guarantee I'd never again have to peel the varnish off a footlocker with a tapestry of profanity I'd weave upon defeat. The catch 22 here is that, for as much as I loathe losing on a personal level, I've always been able to detach myself from the professional and collegiate teams I follow. I've done this successfully and with elaborate rationalization for all of my teams. All of them except the Spurs, and I can't tell you exactly why.
The Spurs rolled into the series with the Thunder atop a level of hype on which I'm almost certain the national media hated to place them, and perhaps that was why I always felt the whole "win streak" was a bit gilded for my tastes. I don't care about win streaks because, personally, I expect to win at whatever I engage in. I apologize for the arrogant shadow I'm casting myself under, but I'm attempting to relate how I approach such things. To me, the win streak was like the frosting on a well made cake. It makes it better, but is ultimately empty but for the initial excitement. Now, the Spurs find themselves in a losing streak that legitimately feels just as long to fans as the 50 day high did. If they're not careful, the streak will rush them right out of the playoffs and into the arms of a sporting public that wanted them to fail all along.
In my perhaps bizarre symbiotic relationship with the Spurs tide of fortune, I've often found myself mentally preparing myself for games I'm neither competing in or even watching, as if the stress I'm encumbering is all legitimate and real. When the Spurs lost games 2 and 3, I heard mutterings from some about the officiating, and several other key "reasons" why the Spurs had stumbled. Having the uneducated luxury of someone who simply glanced at the box score and saw a twenty point loss, I immediately surmised that no such conspiracy theories were valid, and simply suggested that the Spurs try harder at not getting their butts kicked next time out. They did, and got a six point loss for their trouble, though six points in that hostile an environment does convey that some modicum of poise was displayed by a team that was statistically the worst at losing basketball games in the NBA all year long.
Moving forward to tonight, I see a game that the Spurs absolutely have to win. They have to win it like they would a game 7, or any other game which could potentially be the last of their season. The simple fact of the matter is that, support be damned, they will not come home for game 7 in THIS series if they don't win tonight. If the Spurs are old enough to be experienced in such positions, then the Oklahoma City Thunder are blissfully stupid on their end, and packed with the kind of basketball muscle that could toss San Antonio right out of the ring if their A++ game isnt on hand tonight. If I wasn't blunt already, then allow me to assure you that this season, win streak and all, means absolutely nothing without not only a series win against OKC, but an NBA Championship as well. Failure to bring it all the way home will give all the annoying people with media reach the ability to talk about what a letdown, nee, catastrophic failure, it was that the Spurs didn't win it all. They'll say this with us knowing all the while that they never meant a word of it the whole time they talked about how great the Spurs were "up until..."
If the Spurs weren't motivated enough to win a game they absolutely have to have tonight, maybe somebody should run that last bit by them.
It'd be all I needed to hear...