Teams from Detroit and San Antonio faced off Wednesday night in what will be remembered as a rather uneventful NBA game.
But let's look a little deeper.
The Spurs returned home after 25 days on the road battered, but ironically, healthier than when they left. The Pistons entered the game eleven games under .500, struggling to find their way. But the organizations have a few natural similarities.
Everyone understands why a Piston is from Detroit. The same goes for the Spurs. Where else would a Spur call home?
Contrast that with the Los Angeles Lakers. Are there any lakes in Los Angeles? How about the seemingly annual rotation of the Bobcats and Hornets? And don't even get me started on the Utah Jazz. I read that music is illegal in Utah so having a team called the Jazz doesn't even make sense.
The Spurs and Pistons are two of the few remaining teams that can completely identify with -- and in -- their city.
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The Pistons and the city of Detroit are known for their gritty toughness. The Bad Boy Pistons reached the pinnacle in 1989 and 1990. In 2004 the roster was different but their workmanlike personality remained and the Pistons won another championship against the heavily favored Lakers.
The city of Detroit was once at the top too. It was home to both of the largest car makers in the world and the center of manufacturing activity in the country. Detroit was home to the Ford Mustang, Chevy Corvette and Motown.
Now it's just another crumbling city in the rust belt, struggling to survive.
San Antonio is on a different path. The city of San Antonio is a destination and the same can be said for the Spurs. Austin Daye said he cried in his pillow when he found out he was coming here to play. I can relate. I can never imagine living anywhere but here.
And then there's this picture, taken in San Antonio on Wednesday.
This isn't about the politics, but more about the city's strength. It's about two cities and two teams, on completely divergent paths. Both are scrappy, tough and proud. But the distance between the paths is widening.
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The parking lot was littered with hay and mud left behind from the thousands of cowboys and their animals that called the AT&T Center Grounds home for the last three weeks. The rodeo hangover carried into the stands as the fans seemed to sit on their hands for the first half, and the play on the court was rusty and out of sync.
Kawhi showed signs of rust early with a terrible air ball on his first shot from inside 15 feet, and another bad shot only a few minutes later. But he quickly found his comfort zone, draining a three pointer at the 7:21 mark, followed by an incredibly athletic, if scary to watch, alley-oop from Corey Joseph. He fell to the floor and looked as if he might have re-injured his hand, but quickly shook it off.
Otherwise, the first quarter, and first half was rather uneventful as both teams struggled to find their footing.
And apparently, Manu Ginobili really struggled to find his footing with a minute left in the 1st half as he blew out a shoe.
Manu Ginobili's shoe go boom pic.twitter.com/l1vYfJMkmZ— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) February 27, 2014
In case you haven't seen this, it's a great video about the Spurs and their shoe preferences. Apparently, Manu favors a 2009 shoe because he has a tendency to go through several pair a week.
Incidents like this can really make you question your life choices. I've been wearing the same running shoes for seven years so maybe I need to exert a bit more energy.
Fortunately for the Spurs, Manu got a new pair of shoes, and he led the Spurs to a very strong second half that might make some remember November, and the way the good guys were cruising to double digit wins almost nightly. You know, back when everybody was healthy. Manu scored all 16 of his points in the 2nd half as the Spurs wrapped up a 120-110 win.
Standard Kawhi Quote:
"I just tried to enjoy it because sitting on the bench isn't fun."
Spur of the moment:
Manu was fantastic in the 2nd half, and Kawhi looked strong in his return, but Marco Belinelli was the Spur of the night scoring 20 points on 4-4 shooting from beyond the arc and some great two man play with Manu. I'm so glad the band is getting back together.
Odds and ends:
- While most everyone in the arena showed signs of rust, the beer guys brought their A games. During the "D-fense" chants, the beer guys would walk the aisles shouting "Beer-here" "Wine-here" at the tops of their voices. It was evident who put in work during the RRT.
- I swear the new Spurs DJ, Quake, did my taxes once.
- Matthew Tynan and I were chatting on press row before the game when a nice little old lady came up and gently rubbed Matthew on the back of the neck. He turned, looked, laughed and said hi. I assumed it was an old family friend or aunt. After she walked away he said "I have no idea who that was." #BlogLyfe
- The Spurs introduced the "Bobblehead Cam" during a timeout. They had Kawhi's bobblehead body and then showed various fans on the big screen and implored them to shake their heads like a bobblehead. The irony was the fact that each of the fans featured in the Bobblehead Cam looked more like Kawhi Leonard than the actual bobblehead did/does.
- During a timeout the entertainment guys played the Otis Day "Shout" clip from Animal House to get the crowd going. I'm sure it was just part of the rotation but I thought the timing was great considering the passing of Harold Ramis on Monday. If you have a few minutes, this 2004 profile in The New Yorker on Ramis, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and their complicated relationships is a fantastic read.
Tweets of the night
Manu, on his shoe blowout in the first half: "I stopped and my foot kept going."— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) February 27, 2014
Pop said of his lunch with Bill Clinton, Julian Castro and Henry Cisneros: "I was the server."— Matthew R Tynan (@Matthew_Tynan) February 26, 2014
I can’t believe this isn't verified yet!!!!! @GrangerToSA— Matthew R Tynan (@Matthew_Tynan) February 27, 2014
And I don't often have a conversation with tweets like some of the other rehashers, but this one is too good.
So, Tweeter, did you pump fake him and he jumped past you, and you walked to the pretzel stand to get a pretzel?
So there you have it. Consider yourselves properly rehashed. Here's to Marco and Manu breaking ankles and blowing out shoes until late June. Here's to the genius of Harold Ramis. Here's to the return of Tony Parker and the continued success (and health) of Tim Duncan.
And here's to the revitalization of the city of Detroit. We're pulling for you.