With the trace of negativity on this board for our boys' chances in Game 7, I can't help but contain a need to write something. You won't recognize my username; I've rarely ever posted, (that usually happening right around draft and free agency when there is talk of blowing my team up. And, oh, how I can't help the trepidation).
Yes, our boys are getting a little long in the tooth. And, as I've gone a few sleepless nights, these past several weeks (cant imagine way) I can't help but wonder what the future holds; my heart says Spurs, my head says the obnoxious ones. My own stalwart, steely confidence in my team has admittedly waned.
I've been around long enough to see Big Dave drafted, to curse Mr. Strickland for a blind over-the-head pass, to root MJ on for his first and then curse him for all the rest, to be privileged enough to play Avery Johnson in a game of HORSE long before he had become the Little General and had developed anything close to that jumper he hit to close out New York in'99 (I lost of course, my jumper was more deplorable even than his, but my cousin won). I was in the building when Barkley took the three over Big Dave. I rooted for Hakeem and Clyde in '95 just because the Spurs brought in the freakshow that was and is Dennis Rodman. If J.K. Rowling would have allowed an American to play the role of 'he who shall not be named,' the Worm would have had my vote, even if he has proved time and again, that any Joe in 99% of the human population would serve as a better thespian.
Sorry, I'll dispense with the Rodman rant.
I rooted for Karl and John against the Bulls, even after the massive elbow the near knocked the Admiral unconscious, but it was '97 of all years that made me a real Spurs fan. I watched every game believing that Monty Williams was going to become our next great star and that we were going to hold on to the Human Highlight film just long enough for Dave and Sean to get back so that we could win a championship. I never even once felt that, just maybe, we were tanking games on purpose to compete for a number one pick.
Yes, I know. I've never been accused of being a basketball IQ diamond in a bucket of cubic zirconia.
But since then, I've seen Tim Duncan. I don't think I need to say any more to make my point to anyone, but as I've already become a little long winded... Why not.
Karl Malone was the greatest power forward ever. I feel pretty confident saying that, though my experience doesn't extend far enough back to speak of those that came before The Round Mound and present-day zombie movie stand-in, Kevin Machale. He met Tim Duncan in the playoffs beat him once in '98, but not in '99. Suddenly and unapologetically, Timmeh became the new GOATPUFF, (thank you AS for perhaps the greatest acronym of all time).
Sadly, Timmeh could not repeat in 2000, though I dare say he would have if not for the knee. He didn't leave us either, though he had the chance to join all-star Grant Hill and budding starT-Mac somewhere else, nearer to South Beach, (take note, Mr. James of how to really become endeared to fans--true fans--and not just to fair-weather media minions; I'm sure true Miami fans exist, I just can't see them all behind the ...well, I digress).
We struck out in '01 and '02, building in both years the vast anticipation and exhilaration that would be 2003's western conference semis. David and Mr. Kevin Willis tag teamed the Shaq Monster while Timmeh, Tony, Manu, and, oh that guy that believed then and now that he was better than Manu Ginobili and then later Danny Green... What's his name? Never mind, who cares? The right guys won. (We miss you, Captain, in this series more than any other very likely, but I've a few four letter words saved up for you for not being capable of being a team player and joining us in this run. Somehow, I bet you're hurting over this more than most, and if not, hey, find a deep dark hole to crawl in. I hear the Bobcats might ...no, wait. Milwaukee? No. Indy? No. Atlanta, GS. Damn, is there a bridge you haven't burned.)
We burned up everybody we faced in 2003, Kerr burned up Dallas, and Duncan did the only thing I'll never forgive him for in missing the quadruple double in the finals against the Nets. Then we talked about signing Jason Kidd, and an ESPN crew tracked Timmeh as he sped through town, wooing the guy who ...used to blow kisses to ...well, that just seemed creepy, marital bliss or not.
Thank you, David Stern, for implementing instant replay. Wish you would have done it in time for 2004 and ...well 'point four,' but ...you're trying, I understand.
That year could have broke us, just like ill-luck and perhaps karma broke the Lake-show. It didn't. We moved on to 2005, though we abandoned Malik Rose along the way. Bruce Bowen earned the ire of Ray Allen, by moving his feet and playing defense. Ray Allen called him dirty and others hopped onto that bandwagon, but Bruce was just that good. He wasn't out to hurt anyone, Ray; he was just out to stop you. You don't seem to handle that all that well, and you tend to lash out at others when things don't go your way. Oh, that cute little grimace of disgust from the bench as Danny Green broke you record said it all; JJ Barea was right in what he called you this year, I think.
7 games. And the most impressive of all of our championships. Detroit. I think it was the first in which we truly had a big three. Parker, Manu, and Timmeh were brilliant, but I think the Bowen block on Chauncy in the waning moments of the fourth quarter Game 7 sticks out in my mind best, even over all the long-haired, winding and wiry Ginobili drives.
We were amazing.
Plantar Fasciitis and an untimely Ginobili foul killed our chances in 2006, and Miami reaped the benefit, you know, back then when they were still perhaps likable. Can you imagine what our Spurs would have done to that team?
2007 presented one man against our team, and we all know the result and the scars left upon Lebron. Seriously, leading up to and, I believe, long after Thursday, I believe that man will wake in a cold sweat in many a night with our Spurs' emblem etched into his minds' eye, along with its chief characters.
My daughter was born the night Joey Crawford refused to call Derek Fisher for his foul on Brent Barry in the final moments of Game 3. (the league issued a formal confirmation and apology for the no-call, if I remember right. Anger management helped? Maybe, but he sure seems to swallow his whistle in certain pivotal playoff moments for our Spurs. This one. Last year, at OKC. And Tuesday, on the Manu drive and the Green three.
2009 was doomed by a Manu injury.
2010 threw kryptonite at us in the Phoenix Suns.
2011 threw more kryptonite at us, as well as Grant Hill's payback to Tim for not joining him in Orlando all those years ago, as Manu's arm was broken. We weren't playing defense yet, but there wasn't a single team that year that would have challenged us more than Memphis, including Dallas, whom went on to win everything.
2012 saw us win 10 playoff games in a row only to falter to OKC, whom seemed to have a small tidbit of that same previously mentioned kryptonite, as well as the young star-studded sex appeal that seemingly drove Stern to play Puppet Master for a Heat-Thunder finals. The Thunder moved to play the Heat to five games before losing.
I don't know if we would have beaten the Heat last year; we weren't quite playing the same defense we are this year, what with the shortened season and the condensed playbook that was the result of it. OKC played great against us and stunk it up against the Heat. Could we have done better? I think so.
But my point in writing all this is to remind you, if doubt has invaded your heart, just who the Spurs are. We swept Cleveland, we took New York in five, New Jersey in six, and Detroit in seven. We've seen every sort of obstacle in between and yeah, we haven't always been successful.
37 or not, Tim is still the GOATPUFF. Tony Parker is an MVP candidate. Manu is still capable of the voodoo. Kawhi, Danny, and a fat man are playing the kind of defense that may just approach being called Bowenesque. Our three point shooting has been peerless.
Pop made perhaps a calculated mistake at the end of game six. No one played to their potential, save for Tim. Kawhi played well, but I think he has the potential to be even better next game.
We lost by three.
To a man, our guys are pissed off. Would any of the aforementioned teams we faced in the previous fifteen years want to face this team when it feels a chip on its shoulder?
The dejection the media has perceived in our guys is a rope-a-dope maneuver if I've ever seen one. Do you really think this team, these guys, are ready to surrender? Could any of them think themselves done? If you think so, I don't think you've been watching the same team I have this season.
It's a feint. It's the same kind of tactic the old joyful Viking, Herger, uses on the young warrior in the Thirteenth Warrior. He feigns that he has been beaten, only to behead his opponent in one swift move.
And the Heat, entitled to glory as they believe they are, "not two, not three, not four ..." just might fall for it.
Game 7 is upon us. It's not in our house. The media darlings would have you see every stat that would make you a nonbeliever.
But all I see is my team--the Spurs--ready and poised. They may be tired, and indeed, Friday, they'll take five and have more than earned it. But Thursday, I have faith, they'll take five another way.
Tim, Manu, and Tony aren't going anywhere at the end of this season, by the way. Especially, if they have a chance to do what has always escaped them. The repeat.
Let's go San Antonio. GSG!