Looking at the Finals with a fresh perspective

Mike Ehrmann

It's time to put the rest of the season, and the rest of our sports-lives, behind us and find a way to see the game again -- for the first time.

If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and adore.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

So San Antonio is back in the NBA Finals again. But before those games are played, and thanks largely to the efficiency with which they dispatched the Grizzlies in the Conference Finals, they've had a little time on their hands. And so, of course, does the media. There have been some posts on the site recently about how much love our Spurs are getting from a few of the scribes out there and, quite honestly, I'm not sure how to feel about it.

Don't misunderstand me, the media, by and large, just do their job and many of them do it well and seem to have a great deal of respect for our guys. Of course, in some cases, I can't help but remain skeptical. I mean, nobody wants to date the person who, in high school, snubbed you for four years and then came back around, much later, to tell you what a mistake they made and how much they really always kinda sorta really liked you, deep down, but didn't know what was right in front of them.

I promise I'm just stretching an analogy here and not writing about any of my own personal experiences. I just can't date the passive-aggressive person who continues to write about how much they've always loved the Spurs-it's just the other five billion people on the planet who hate them. Instead, I decided to get a new girlfriend...literally.

We met online and she lives back east and had never really watched basketball. She grew up in Buffalo and rooted for the Sabres and the Bills as a young girl and if it's true, as JRW once told me, that fandom is fostered through defeat and not victory then she would certainly count as a fan. She played sports when she was younger and so she's not a total newbie when it comes to understanding teamwork and athleticism and coaching.

I told her all about the Spurs and, since she's Hispanic and very much into that culture, I singled out Manu Ginobili in particular. He quickly became her favorite player, even if she was a little confused about his last name initially. And watching the games with her, long distance though it may have been, allowed me to look at the Spurs through new eyes. It was like seeing a movie I love with somebody who has never seen it before, and watching their eyes light up, the breath catch in their throat, the tears welling, or the laughter erupting in all the right places. It's like seeing it for the first time.

Sometimes the results have been pretty funny. After Tony got called for charging I received a text: "Honey, why did Tony do that?" I had to explain about flopping and that we do it too, sometimes, although with a lot more flair.

But more often I'd get some great stuff:

"Wow! Look how the Spurs zip the ball all around the court! How do they do that?"

"How come the other team always has one guy who shoots the ball right away? The Spurs don't play that way."

"The other team keeps trying to score and Tim Duncan won't let them."

"That Leonard kid just blew right past this guy along the baseline and dunked! Has he been with the Spurs a while?"

"Watching Tony Parker play makes me forgive him for that whole Eva Longoria thing."

"How come Coach Pop never looks happy, even when we're winning?"

"OMG! Manu just threw a pass right between that guy's legs! Did he do that on purpose? WOW!"

She came to visit me last week and we went to the Alamo Drafthouse at Westlakes and watched the game over there. It was really great, kind of a cross between watching it live and watching it at a sport's bar. She bought two shirts. I don't know what the future holds for us, but at least I'm pretty sure I made another Spurs fan for life.

But I didn't write this to bore you with tales of my burgeoning romance-my wish for you as we prepare for this Drive for Five is that you do your level best to view it from a new perspective. Introduce the Spurs to a son or daughter, a niece or nephew, heck maybe even your parents or that person who doesn't like basketball to begin with, and experience it through them. Not because these people will have anything new to tell you, but because it might sanctify things you already know.

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