The 1970s saw the rise of one of the most unlikely hit-makers in the history of rock, as Walter Becker and Donald Fagen met in college and formed a musical group that preformed a weird mixture of jazz, blues, and elements taken from a dozen genres of music, all held together by intricate and exacting studio arrangements. Steely Dan rarely toured, but they produced some of the most memorable and influential music of the 70s and beyond by charting their own course and producing something distinctive and original.
The San Antonio Spurs are the closest thing in professional sports to the the oddly-named duo, and they blazed a new path in from 1993-1995, adding Dennis Rodman to do their dirty work. But they really hit their stride in the late 90s when Gregg Popovich took over as coach and with the drafting of Timothy Duncan, leading to an extended string of successful efforts. Like Becker and Fagan, Duncan and Popovich built their success on combining a variety of styles in an idiosyncratic mixture of styles, precise execution, and a clear vision of exactly what they wanted to accomplish.
Music isn’t always about winning, and sports are the same. Along with the incredible highs, there are always periods of lows, as the song Deacon Blues describes:
They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues
After so many seasons of unbridled success, it’s a little disorienting to encounter a period of retrenchment, as the Silver and Black rebuild their strength, and it’s easy to get the Offseason Blues. But when Fagen says “I’ll be what I want to be” and “I play what I feel” that’s a reminder that you can’t ever succeed by being someone else. The Spurs are once again creating a new template for sports excellence, and it’s going to be great to see it develop.
What are your musical takes about the San Antonio Spurs? Are they hard rock or soft jazz? Classical or punk rock?
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