Before I go further- please note this is a long post....
I have been a Spurs fan going on 20 years. It started when I was in college at UT (that's the University of Texas for all you non-Texans) and my parents moved to San Antonio in 1994 (my dad is prior military). My dad has always been a huge basketball fan (think the Showtime Lakers) and he wanted to take advantage of seeing basketball in person. So he and my mom bought a 10 game package. And within that first season, my mom, who had never really cared for the game, was completely hooked. They have been season ticket holders ever since. I don't remember the first game I went to, but I do remember the first playoff game I went to- the 1995 Western Conference Finals Game 1 where David was presented with his MVP trophy. We all know how that series turned out.
My husband and I were married the following year and then moved overseas (he too is in the military). But I followed the Spurs from afar and in the summer of 1999 returned to San Antonio for the NBA Finals. Mind you, I never got tickets to the games, and actually arrived in town the night of Game 2. My parents did not leave the game to pick me up at the airport, LOL, they sent my sister. But for Game 5, the night of my birthday no less, we all went out to a local restaurant and watched with at least 100 other people. It was a magical night and best birthday present I could receive.
Since then I have continued to follow the Spurs from a distance. We returned to the States, living in several different places. But I took any opportunity to go to San Antonio for games (both regular season and playoffs). I also traveled to see them in other cities close to where I was living. For regular season games that has meant in Minneapolis, Sacramento, Oakland, and Houston. For playoff games that has been Sacramento, Oakland, and Los Angeles (for Clippers games). Incidentally, all of those franchises have contacted me to buy season tickets, even if the only game I bought in their market was a single Spurs games. I have not yet accepted the offers but several times have said "if you can guarantee me that I can just buy Spurs tickets, then we can work something out". They are always surprised. I have cheered them on through all the ups and downs since 1995. There are pivotal moments in my life marked by Spurs victories or defeats. They are "my" team and I root for them no matter what.
We were fortunate enough to be stationed in San Antonio from 2008-2010. I was able to buy season tickets for those years and it was such a blessing. I valued being able to see the guys "up close" all the time and when my husband was deployed for a year (for the second time) went to games by myself. It was my little refuge and it is something I will always appreciate having had the opportunity to do.
I had a great encounter with the team some years ago. I was Christmas shopping in Neiman Marcus in San Francisco the day after Thanksgiving (I don't remember the year). The Spurs had played the Lakers in LA the night before (and lost) and were playing in Oakland the next night. I saw Kevin Willis in the store and nearly had a heart attack. Thank goodness my best friend was with me and she helped me not only get his autograph but get something from the store staff to get the autograph. I was way too freaked out to talk to him and behaved like I was totally shy, which I am not. After that, just as we walked out of the store, I literally nearly ran into Coach Pop!!!!!! I somehow managed to pull myself together, introduce myself, tell him I'd just met Kevin, and would he mind signing an autograph for me. (I also told the story of that first championship, that it had been my birthday, which is also David Robinson's wife's birthday- yes, I think I said all of that, and yes, I am a total dork!!!!). The envelope they signed is now framed and sits in my office. (Incidentally I recounted that story for Pop some years later when I met him again at one of the 5Ks they did at the AT&T Center. He was very gracious but I could tell he had absolutely no recollection of the entire thing).
I tell you all of this, and there are many more small details I could share, but the main point of writing is to say how much I love the Spurs and this blog!!!! I love that there are like-minded Spurs fans I can commune with, just because you all get it!!!! I have come here religiously for the past 3 seasons and this season, more than any other, with the way it ended, I needed it. Like many of you, I was heartbroken by the turn of events, but strangely calm Thursday night and able to not be a complete mess (which may have been because I was a complete mess the final minute of Game 6 before it went to overtime). I even drank the champagne we had chilled for Game 7, to toast the team I love so much. I realized earlier on Thursday that while of course I cared if they won, I knew in my heart that they already had, and that the score at the end was not going to change that for me (and many of the posts from my fellow pounders helped me see this).
This team showed fight, poise, and complete determination. There was not an ounce left in any of them when it was all said and done, and to me, that counts for more than the outcome. My dad always said he didn't care about my grades as long as I gave 100% effort. I have tried to hold myself to that standard as an adult, in the work that I do, and in my relationships. To give 100% no matter what. And our guys live the same way. They don't make excuses. They fight and claw and get back up when they are knocked down. They do things "the right way" not because it's popular or flashy, but because it is right.
I know there is still more left. People here will understand that sometimes we just "know" there is more. We don't necessarily know how it will happen, or when, but we know it will. For the time being I will continue to follow them here in Nor-Cal. I celebrated the Kings not leaving Sacramento because I am guaranteed to see the Spurs here again next season (I also hate the Maloofs and what they did to the city and the franchise and just couldn't bear it if they'd "won"). I will continue to travel to other cities to see them. Any time I am in San Antonio, I will see them. I will continue to talk about them- my passion for them is sort of a funny thing now with friends and co-workers, but because it is the Spurs, everyone is understanding and gracious and supportive. And I will continue to be proud of my guys. I will also continue to read this amazing blog and share in the feelings of all the great Spurs fans here. Thank you to each of you for your great words and sharing in the love of the Spurs.
I wish peace for our team. I know what has happened will not be something they ever get over. But I also know that the love and support the collective Spurs Nation shows them is strong enough to provide the salve for the heartache. And I know that the only way now is to play on. Get up, keep going, and make more magic happen. I know there is more to come.