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The Spurs are Kids, and they’re Alright

Like youngsters who make bad decisions, the youthful Spurs will learn from their mistakes.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

I’m going to tell you about the first time I wrecked a car. Maybe it’ll even have something to do with the Spurs. Cue the mists of time.

The first time I wrecked a car I was four years old. I was sitting in the passenger seat of my friend’s dad’s 70’s model Ford pickup. My friend was actually the one behind the steering wheel. Don’t worry, he was older than me. He was five.

We were just playing in the car, and our 70’s era parents didn’t know or didn’t care. We were a taxi one moment, then an army jeep, the limits were our imagination. We were parked on an inclined driveway, and as my friend busily wrestled the wheel through imaginary traffic, he pointed at the gear shift sticking out of the steering column and told me you should never touch this dangerous lever.

I can still see a small hand, my hand, reaching slowly towards the old truck’s gear shifter, the magic wand of trouble, shifting down, and the wheels began to move.

The garage began to recede, as if the truck was a ship leaving port in reverse, and we began to pick up speed, bouncing across an alley, into a neighbor’s yard, crushing several pink flamingos, narrowly missing their double glass sliding doors, and becoming slightly lodged between two laurel trees.

My friend was now rolling down his window, and I did the same, wriggling our way out of the car and down to the ground. As I began to run across the street to my house, I saw him on his knees in the neighbor’s yard, his hands clasped together in tight prayer, no doubt thinking of his Dad returning home from a long day of work to see his truck stuck in between the neighbor’s trees.

I knocked vigorously at the door that was locked (apparently my mother’s gentle hint to play outside until dinner), and when my Mom answered the door as if I was a salesman, I explained with wild gestures that the truck had rolled down the driveway into the neighbor’s yard.

“Well, just go pick it up,” she said, thinking I meant one of my toys and never dreaming it was a half-ton truck.

Of course, my memory leaves me there. It either all turned out alright, or I have blocked out what happened next to my friend and me. It is probably for the best. Actually, I kind of remember being pleasantly surprised that everyone involved was just glad we were alive.

As I watched the Spurs game the other night, my wife fanning away the mists of time that are always attacking me, I returned slowly down memory lane to a lop-sided late-tip-off West-coast game as my beloved Spurs were laying an egg against the historically, perennially defeated-concept of basketball-related material that is often called the Sacramento Kings; the same team that’s always around the Western Conference cellar and drafting worse than Vietnam. (Have I gone too far Kings fans? Or perhaps you agree? At any rate, we see your burden and salute you!)

What though, you may be demanding by now, is the theme that my story about the car wreck and the Spurs game had in common? Is it the literal metaphor that the game was a car wreck? No, it’s about the drivers. The main theme that they both share is that of being young for a given situation and making mistakes. That is the theme and heart of the entire season and that almost everything is OK because our roster is so young.

Also, as far as I know, in last night’s game — no one was hurt. I don’t mean injured, I mean that losses this season don’t hurt one bit. They are successfully offset by the learning moments with occasional beautiful Chemistry as a team slowly gels. And most games in so many ways demonstrates the potential and camaraderie they show and the joy they show in playing the game, and if anybody likes playing basketball more than Keldon Johnson (the statistical leader who also leads the team and league in smiles, war whoops and energy), they must be hooping on Mars because I sure haven’t seen them.

This all occurred to me one night in one of many this season, during another late west coast game, my wife by my side on the couch, now setting up an oscillating fan to fully engineer the mists of time attempting to gather around me and bring me back to reality, to stay involved as we evolve, knowing we were going to lose, knowing I was going to write this article.

And knowing that, this season, we cannot lose.