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What We Learned from the Spurs win over the Lakers

San Antonio continues to take care of business

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

The Spurs didn’t need to win this game. Frankly, nobody needs to do anything, this is a free country. However, we’ve spent a lot of time on these here internets talking about how the Spurs have a nasty little habit of playing down to their competition and right now, in spite of all the high wattage star power lining their roster, the Lakers just aren’t very good. I mean, Keita Bates-Diop or Lebron? You take KBD every single time.

It was a truly bizarre experience to wander into whatever is going on with the Lakers right now. I know the Anthony Davis injury happened recently and, like a lot of teams, they’re dealing with various COVID issues, but it also just seems like they’ve been mired in one setback or another from the get go. This is a team with championship aspirations that’s sitting below .500 heading into Christmas. That’s a crisis! Lebron is still breathtaking to watch and Russell Westbrook has his moments, I guess, and then...What? Austin Reaves is cool? Taylor Horton-Tucker? This does not seem to be a team with a plan beyond “I hope LeBron keeps us afloat and AD comes back soon.” That is a tough place to be.

Now, let’s contrast that with the Fiesta Boys who rolled into town last night. You and I both know that this season hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park for the Spurs either, but their recent run of form seems to be trending up. Guys are settling in and a few bounces here and there seem to be going our way. They don’t look like a team getting ready to challenge for a title this season or anything, but they do look like a team that has the rough outline of an identity. They aren’t rebuilding the Spurs Culture, but they’re renovating it a little bit. They’re figuring out how to make it work for this next generation and we get to watch them do it.

Where would you rather be? A snapshot of Thursday night and the idea that anyone wouldn’t be #PorVida immediately seems insane, but the Lakers still have time to figure it out. Shoot, they might get healthy, find a small ball lineup that works for them, and go win a title this year. That’s in play! Even if it doesn’t work out, they can retool on the fly around Lebron and AD and be right back in the thick of it. Beyond that, there will always be another star who wants to play in L.A. and there will always seem like a quick path back to the promised land is right around the corner.

The Spurs are destined to play tortoise to the NBA’s many hares and that’s not really the lifestyle for everyone. It’s hard work! We’re out here in the streets losing our mind whenever Jock Landale hits a pick n’ pop three. We’re scouring the internet in search of people talking about the fact the Dejounte Murray is almost averaging a triple double. We know deep in our hearts that Josh Primo would be in the rookie of the year conversation if Pop would just let him out of his G-League cage a little more often. We’ve had to reshape our vision of what success means on both a micro and macro level. It’s not always about winning a championship every season. It can’t be.

Nights like last night are a good reminder that we’re on the right track though. It’s not always going to seem like it and it’s not always going to feel great, but we’re putting in the foundation for something bigger, better, and more satisfying than any title we could back into with a shortcut. I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but when we do eventually find ourselves back out in the city honking our horns because the boys brought the trophy home to San Antonio, I’m absolutely positive it’s going to be worth it.

Takeaways:

  • I’ve spent entirely too much time in this column talking about the Lakers and not nearly enough time talking about our number one boy KEITA BATES-DIOP. I mean, part of that is because what can you really say even? I can tell you what happens during a solar eclipse, but I can’t tell you how it feels when the lights go out in the middle of the day and the earth is bathed in an alien glow that makes you hold your breath and really consider our minuscule place upon this rock hurtling through the cosmos. He was magnificent. He was a devastating counterweight to our roving backcourt and his finishing around the rim was immaculate. Can he shoot the three? Of course he can. All night if he had too. We might never witness anything close to the heights KBD reached in L.A. so I think it’s only appropriate to just spend some time today in quiet reflection that we were alive for the night that Keita Bates-Diop went for 30 points on 11-11 shooting to close out the Lakers in their final game at “The Staples Center.” The world can be a wondrous place.
  • This is my first season in more than a decade where I’m not living on the West Coast and also, in totally unrelated news, I think the NBA should abolish games from happening at night on the West Coast? We just...we have lives. We have families. We have the modicum of sanity derived from our pretty regular bedtimes. What is anyone supposed to do with a game that begins at 9:15 p.m.? It’s ludicrous. Might as well play it on the moon. I’m so upset. Do they realize how many people DIDN’T get to see Keita Bates-Diop go for 30 points on 11-11 shooting to close out the Lakers in their final game at “The Staples Center” because the freaking game started at the time night reserved only for witches, ghouls, and unruly teens?
  • I’m trying not to get overly hype about Jock Landale because I know this is a thing we do as Spurs fans. We get attached to someone who we think is great and then Pop doesn’t play him enough and we get mad at Pop and he’s like “I don’t care” and it’s just this whole annoying cycle. That being said...he’s pretty fun, right? Like, we’re all enjoying the Jock Landale experience immensely, right? He’s a GIANT Aussie with a fun haircut who loves big dunks and big threes. It’s like he was created in a lab to appeal to our most base sensibilities as Spurs fans. Everyone just be cool about it, ok? He’s playing well. He’s getting more minutes. JUST BE COOL. We don’t want to scare this one away.

WWL Post Game Press Conference

- In the past, you’ve hinted at having a mild distaste for the Fiesta Jerseys. Nothing definitive and nothing on the record, per se, but I’ve always sort of gotten the sense that you had something on your chest that you’ve wanted to get out.

- I think the people really love the Fiesta Jerseys and I think that’s great. The Spurs have a long and storied history of not giving the people what they want and now, at long last, they seem to be finally doing that and I think it should be applauded.

- See, this is what I’m talking about. You’re very cagey with your support of them. It almost seems like you don’t like them.

- I love the Fiesta colors and think they are one of the coolest aspects of the the Spurs franchise. They are a wonderful encapsulation of the vibrancy and culture of this city and I absolutely think they should be a permanent part of everything they do.

- You love the Fiesta Colors. But the jerseys, how do we feel about the Fiesta Jerseys?

- The NBA, as a whole, has gotten a little carried away with the alternate jersey thing. Every team has something like 4 different alternates and they get new ones almost every season? That just seems excessive and unsustainable. I wish that they would tone that down across the league and dial everything back. Less is more. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

- So you’re just not going to answer, are you?

- I’d like to think that I have.