The San Antonio Spurs are definitely not crashing back to reality. No, I’d say its more of a gentle plummet, almost like a skydiver who pulled his chute way too early and is now lazily making his way back to the earth. Nobody’s panicking and there aren’t any concerned bystanders waiting around at the scene — because this is all normal. This is what’s supposed to be happening.
It’s a strange feeling to watch a team go out there and lose five of their last six games and feel pretty good. There’s something almost satisfying about it. They aren’t embarrassing themselves and no one is accusing the team of any kind of foul play. It just is what it is. A young team learning the ropes in a Big Boy league. Keldon is learning how to lead. Devin and Tre are learning how to shoulder more responsibility. Shoot, some of these guys are just out there running around and trying not to get trampled. They all have their assignments and it seems very clear that, in some ineffable way, no one is failing.
It all comes down to effort. This team tries so hard it jumps off the screen even in a loss like Monday night’s. It would be easy to fall into the trap of not trying when everyone expects you to lose but that’s never felt like the case. Against the Dubs they clearly didn’t have it from the get go. The shots weren’t falling and, without Tre Jones greasing the wheels, manufacturing some offense was going to be an uphill battle. So that’s what they did. They battled and they worked and they tried some things. Not all of it worked but, hey, that’s the rub of the green. These guys want to win, but more importantly they want to get better, and “getting better” doesn’t exactly show up in the standings.
The vibe around this team just feels nice. I don’t know how to explain it without sounding like some doddering, ancient old man, but they just seem like nice boys, you know? I like being around them, and watching them play basketball makes me happy. Over the years the Spurs have, even in the best of times, riddled me with stress and frustration and angst that was largely born out of the stakes. When you have guys like Duncan and Parker and Ginobili, it almost feels like a waste if you’re not out there winning a championship. Each win feels like validation but each loss feels like the clock is ticking closer to midnight. It’s exhilarating but it’s also kind of exhausting.
How great is it to sort of just...be? We haven’t gotten to simply exist in a long time and I think I’m finally starting to come around to it. Each win has its own kind of validation attached to it but losses don’t feel like ticking towards some doom. Now it’s more like we’re simply waiting for the sun come up and a new day to dawn. The franchise very specifically committed to this youth movement with the intention of rebuilding the franchise from the ground up and, well, this is what the ground looks like.
I always thought it would be scary. Instead, it’s almost peaceful. Funny how that works.
- I miss Tre Jones. That’s all.
- I’m trying to imagine every guy who has been a rookie with the Spurs franchise over the years and what they’ve had to go through in order to earn Pop’s respect and trust. I think about how they had to leap over hurdle after hurdle. They had to pass increasingly complex tests. They had to spend countless hours shuttling back and forth from the G-League to the end of the bench in the faint hope that some grizzled old man would finally look over at them and say, “sure, go in for the next three minutes and if you even think about trying something weird, so help me God, I’ll have you traded to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants faster than you can blink.” I think about them a lot as I watch Jeremey Sochan just sort of have the run of the place. That must be a trip! You want to start? Sure. Hey, why not just put Jeremy at point tonight, that’d be fun. Genuinely have a hard time even recognizing the Spurs these days.
- There wasn’t a ton to write home about offensively from Devin Vassell last night, but he did still have some moments that really leapt out to me. His physicality is something that just takes me by surprise because I always envision him as scrawny guy and then he goes out there and sort of bodies people like he’s been watching Kevin Durant tape. His offensive game is always where the bread is going to be buttered, but I really like to imagine the menace he could be on defense with those super long arms and that deceptive speed. I mean, I feel like we could start to see plays like this on the regular.
WWL Post Game Press Conference
- I’m trying to find a hot take in there we can delve into and, well, honestly this was all pretty bland. Are you losing your edge?
- I would never rule that out. The edge can go at any time. Maybe this is it for me,
- You said this team “seemed like nice boys.” I mean, go easy there, killer.
- I know, I know. What do you want me do? Roast Keita Bates-Diop for simply doing his job? Get on Doug McDermott for not being five years younger? They aren’t giving me a lot of openings. They’re nice boys.
- Maybe this is where Take Champions rise to the occasion. Maybe this is the crucible where your finest takes will be forged. Dig deep! We need some spice in this season!
- You’re right. I can’t just rest on my laurels. There’s takes in them there hills and we’re going to find them! Just...you know. Later. Gonna take a quick nap first.
- Well, yea, you gotta get a nap in.