Throughout this Finals series, I’ve been astounded at the number of strangers whom I’ve overheard chatting about the games. I’ve tried to remember if there was this much talk last year or the year before, and I really don’t think there was. I must admit that I could be wrong. I tend to have an inner ear radar that picks up on buzz words like “Spurs,” “Ginobili,” and “that Danny Green kid” more-so than “Lebron,” “Heat,” or “Thunder.” Today I overheard maybe the strangest combination of words I’ve ever heard or ever will hear, basketball related or not. As strange as they were, they are what got me over losing this series. Here is where I will paraphrase the words for you so that you will surely understand exactly what I mean:
“Manu really could have thrown the game on purpose. Maybe he had a couple million dollars bet on it.”
I visibly guffawed when I overheard this and quickly turned away in what I thought was a valiant attempt at avoiding social contact on a day that I steadfastly wanted none to be made. Of course, it wasn’t so valiant. He and his fellow conversationalist promptly shut up and proceeded to stare me down as I pretended to be preoccupied with my phone. Yes, I am a spineless loser who hates talking to other humans more than most people hate spiders, so what? Besides, in my defense, the words he dared speak were so incredibly, obviously, unfathomingly false, I couldn’t even begin to know where to start in putting this guy back in his place.
In getting to what will be a short explanation for why this stupid dummy’s sentence actually helped me, I should first let you know that I’m an angry, pessimistic sort of fan. I’m not proud of this, but it is the way it is. I was so upset with the Spurs for losing game six that I couldn’t watch game seven. After pacing my living room for a solid 20 minutes, I actually caved and tuned in for about 3 seconds of game play right around the 27 second mark of the fourth quarter. For those of you who don’t have perfect timeline memories, just know that there was a reason why I only watched 3 seconds and it had to do with a costly turnover. Because of my bad fandom tendencies, I was rather prickly about the whole thing for most of the day today.
Anyways, you now have all the context you need for the moral of this story. On the way home I got to thinking about what this random jerk of a stranger said, and in a way, it gave me peace. Thinking about Manu, the most competitive, strong-willed, warrior of a basketball player I’ve ever watched, tossing a game for money, somehow put it into perspective that I have no right to be unhappy with our team. These guys that we root for are the cream of the crop. They gave the series everything they had and they did it in a manner that should make any fan proud. In a way, this realization saddened me because it also made it clear that however disappointed I was in the loss, it will never come close to what the team, particularly Manu, must be feeling. I hope they know we always have their backs.
In the end, what right do I have to be troubled over the outcome of a game when day in and day out, the one thing we can count on from our team is their will. What more can you ask of a person than to always try their best? We always know we will get that from Manu and the Spurs and not a lot of other team’s fans can say that. Maybe a lot of other team’s fans can’t even be as astounded as I was at the allegation of one of its stars purposely throwing the championship. I wouldn’t know what that’s like, ‘cause I’ve always been a Spurs fan.