It’s been a great weekend for me as an armchair supporter. I guess you could call it a return to form of sorts. Because on an emotional level, I had seen my reactions slip. I was becoming strangely indifferent to whenever the teams I support scored. Not that I didn’t care. But compared to how crazy I can go watching a football or basketball game, I kind of cooled off in recent months.
The football team I support, Liverpool Football Club, has become so incredibly good that winning games doesn’t feel like it used to. It’s the norm, kind of. In late October, they beat their arch rivals, Manchester United, five goals to none at Old Trafford. A couple of years ago, it was a completely unimaginable for such a thing to happen. These days, I’m not even surprised.
When I watch the San Antonio Spurs play basketball my reactions to them scoring also have not as been as emotional as I had known them to be. I guess it’s because I’ve been watching the games with no real expectation. It’s really the first season ever for me in which the result of each game is less important than individual player development. It’s an interesting experience, but I must admit it makes me feel a bit incomplete. I would like to return to going crazy whenever I watch the Spurs or Liverpool play.
Saturday, my emotional reactions came back with a bang. Well, three bangs, actually. In the afternoon, I was watching Liverpool visit the Wolverhampton Wanderers. After striker Diogo Jota had probably the miss of the season, the game went into stoppage time a scoreless draw. Four minutes into stoppage time, “supersub” Divock Origi scored the winning goal for Liverpool – and I exploded! My wife wasn’t at home, but you can ask the neighbors. After the game, I was so on fire that I didn’t even go to bed before the Spurs game. Over here in Germany, it was 2.30am when it started. And I stayed up the entire time.
Fortunately, my emotionality carried over into that game. When Derrick White stripped Stephen Curry of the ball and then went coast to coast for an and-one in the first quarter, I exploded again. You can ask my wife. She was home by then, asleep in the other room – until she wasn’t. Two hours later, when Derrick hit that three in crunch time, I managed to bite my lip while punching the air like a madman. What a day!
- The Spurs beat the team with the best record in the league in an away game. Though Stephen Curry shot worse than he normally does, and though the Warriors defended worse than they normally do, it can’t be overstated that 93 points — I repeat: 93 points — were contributed by players picked or brought into the league by the Spurs. This is something us Pounders should feel very, very good about.
- I read and heard it a couple of times in recent weeks that as “Dejounte Murray goes, so go the Spurs.” I’m not sure why. Because Dejounte played well while the Spurs were losing most of their games. They are now riding a four-game winning streak. In that, Dejounte has continued to play well – and Derrick White has started to play well. I think it’s therefore reasonable to say that as Dejounte and Derrick go, so go the Spurs. Because the Spurs are now 4 and 1 when the two combine for more than 40 points.
- I’ve been critical of Lonnie Walker recently. But the comment of a fellow Pounder this week made me reconsider. Maybe it was just a case of Lonnie’s shots not falling. He looked amazing in San Francisco.
- The main takeaway for me is this, though. The Spurs won a game they were definitely going to lose. Not because they played the Warriors, but because of the way the game went in the fourth quarter. The scoring drought just had to result in a loss, it just had to. But it didn’t. The Spurs fought back and won. I hope they are proud of themselves. They have every reason to be.
- One more thing: Maybe some of you are familiar with the British version of “The Office”. The one in which Ricky Gervais stars as David Brent. In it, Brent, though boss, is clearly deferring to a sales guy called Chris Finch — with whom he regularly wins the Christmas party quiz. Not so in the year in which the series takes place. A smart student intern gives more correct answers than they do. Fuming because they lost, Finch challenges the student intern: For Finch and Brent to be declared winners of the quiz after all, Finch must throw some object, I believe it’s a shoe, over the roof a house – which he successfully does. Why am I telling you this? Well, Finch is extremely tall compared to the other characters, kind of like Jakob is compared to most of his team mates. And after throwing the shoe over the roof, Finch, very pleased with himself to have beaten the student intern, tells him: “Respect your elders, and do not f*** with the big boys!” Watching Jakob protect the rim, kind of feels like the same thing to me.