After attending the first two losses of this year’s Rodeo Road Trip in Sacramento and Golden State, I had hoped my third game would result in a reversal of fortunes for the Spurs in New York. After all, the Knicks aren’t even trying to win their remaining games, so a victory for San Antonio seemed imminent. As you know, it wasn’t.
I came clad in my Davis Bertans jersey in anticipation of a glorious Latvian Heritage Night, but the celebration was canceled by the Knicks in the aftermath of their trade of Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas earlier in the month. On the way into the arena, my wife and I overheard someone hawking Knicks hats with a plaintive ‘Knicks hats hee-ah! Go Knicks!’ to which someone immediately deadpanned ‘Good luck with dat!’
We ended up in an entire row of Spurs fans (some hailed from San Antonio, as well as two other continents - South America and Asia) and were fortunate to have met one of 16 people hired by the NBA last year for the role of ‘Statistical Auditor.’ A gentleman I’ll call John explained that his crew is ‘tasked with finding statistical oddities throughout NBA games’ with each contractor assigned to 1-2 league games nightly and watches for incorrect, ambiguous, or questionable statistical entries and makes suggestions for changes to box score data, which affects fantasy basketball outcomes among other things.
John’s wife, despite wearing Knicks gear, exclaimed that she had been there in San Antonio for the championship parades in 1999 and 2014 and respected the organization highly. John claims that there are an average of 2-3 changes per game that he discovers, and last season he disputed one of Victor Oladipo’s early assists contributing to his and Indiana’s only triple-double in franchise history during Indiana’s playoff series against the Cavaliers. The Pacers’ statistician vehemently denied the change and the accomplishment stood.
John later informed me that Spike Lee pays $7000 per game for his two seats — that practically amounts to the GDP of a small country, and since the 1999 finals loss to the Spurs, mostly appallingly bad basketball. We Spurs fans are so fortunate to have had a 90% success rate in making the playoffs as a franchise despite our recent road woes.
Related to the fateful finals that started our championship era, while Knicks fans around us expressed a high amount of self-defeating statements in the first half amounting to ‘just wait to you see us lose the lead in the fourth quarter’ and ‘you guys are just too good,’ one brave Knicks fan yelled ‘THIS IS OUR REVENGE FOR THE ‘99 FINALS!’ while his equally emboldened son took turns yelling ‘STOP SHAVING YOUR ARMPITS’ to Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills throughout the second half. And while there are apparently anywhere from 3 or 4 different pronunciations butchering Bertans’ last name by arena announcers and broadcasters alike, the Garden’s announcer took to calling out Marco’s last name ‘BELLEE-NELLEE.’
As the game reached its dismaying conclusion, Spurs fans in the area shook each others’ hands in solace and took selfies with the world’s most famous arena in the background. There are now 20 games left in the season and a daunting horserace faces San Antonio. As LaMarcus Aldridge stated this evening after the team’s loss in Brooklyn, “No one is going to save us. We have to figure it out ourselves.”