One day in my high school Latin class, my eccentric teacher was, well, more eccentric than usual. The winter blasts that hit San Antonio caused a whole day of school to be missed, and in my school, where the standard eight class periods are split into two rotating sets of days consisting of four hour-and-a-half periods, each day carries a lot of weight.
We were in the process of translating pieces of Caesar’s Commentariī dē Bellō Gallicō (Notebooks about the Gallic War), a series books describing his firsthand account of the Gallic Wars; the schedule that he laid out had us ending the sections required for the AP Exam right before the test. As such, we were behind, and the makeup day wouldn’t be until the next month. And here, like he always does so well, he connected the Latin to our lives, introducing the concept of a forced march.
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Lasting from 58 to 52 B.C.E., Caesar’s campaign in Gaul resulted in the complete subjugation of the Gallic tribes in the entire region of modern France. The initial fights of the conquest were centered along the Rhine River, eastern Gaul, where the Germanic tribes were beginning to push through. These tribes were famous for being big and brawny, and the mention of their name would send shivers through the Roman legion; they were characterized as an aggressive tribe. The fear of the big, scary Germans moving closer to Rome put Caesar to action.
The Germans outnumbered Caesar’s troops, but Caesar achieved victory by utilizing forced marches. In these marches, he had his troops keep marching at breakneck speeds and through the most adverse conditions. This gave him an advantage; he arrived at the unprepared enemy’s lair and swiftly took care of them.
My teacher explained that we would have to be like Caesar’s troops. There was no room to stop working—instead we had to work harder. To prepare for the AP Exam, we had to trudge through each chapter while not losing our understanding.
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The Spurs have exhibited this same forced march. Through the injuries, they kept playing. Through the "experts’" doubt, they kept playing. And maybe even through their own doubt as they couldn’t get that signature win, they kept playing.
Fittingly, the Spurs have exhibited the best qualities of this forced march during March. They have escalated their play to the next level, shifting to that gear that few in the league can match (although that Kings game yesterday was… something).
They have responded to Gregg Popovich’s Caesar like his Tenth Legion. This legion was the one Caesar called on when he knew that he needed success, and in the Gallic conquests, it showed. Again and again, they brought Caesar victory.
Of course, no legion would be without its aquilifer. This position held the standard that signified the entire legion—the standard that defined five-thousand men. Battles were characterized by an aquilifer leading his legion to battle.
In the Spurs’ case, there is only one person right for this position: Tim Duncan. His appearance on the court represents the legion, and his fellow players march right behind him. He has held the standard for the league’s very best for the past 16 years. He heads the march that he started all those years ago and has left success and awe in his legion’s wake.
This is the man who has continuously put the team on his back and has done whatever it has asked from him and beyond. This is the man that continues to work on his game, looking to any sort of way to keep his effectiveness. This is the man who will again lead his team to where he believes they deserve to be: the NBA Finals.
Tim Duncan has shown me the most exquisite excellence and consistency for the past five years, during which I decided to watch every 4-Down play that he gets, knowing that someday, I’ll be deprived of greatness that nonchalantly graces my television. I only wish that I started to watch sooner.
For the Spurs, this forced march won’t end quite yet.
The playoffs are looming, and they’ll march right through that too, with Tim Duncan holding their standard.
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I hope you guys enjoyed what I wrote. I’ve needed some practice writing, as I want to get better, because I feel that communicating my ideas well is important. And plus, the AP Exams are coming soon, and I want to do well on them.
So I thought, what better way to practice writing than to write about something I love on the blog that I absolutely adore? I’ve been lurking for the past five years or so and just decided to get involved with the community now. Hopefully I’m a welcome stay.