It was tempting to think that maybe we’d reached the end of the journey already. Perhaps all the hard work was done and now all we had to do was sit back and watch our tall French boy throw down dunks from just inside the three point line. We survived the tank. We made it through the wilderness. ESPN remembered we exist. Nothing can get in our way.
Yeah, about that.
I think it’s fair to say that none of us were expecting to get blown out by 40 in the first road game of the year. Maybe we weren’t predicting a win, but something in the vein of a hard fought loss with flashes of promise would be the order of the day. Something akin to the Dallas or Houston games. That seemed reasonable, yeah? Momentum was sky high after an overtime win and it just felt like...well, I guess the phrase that came to mind is, “why not?”
The Clippers showed us “why not.” That is a professional team with real killers on it who, flawed as they might be from a big picture perspective, have been around the block a few times. Paul George battled prime Lebron James in the playoffs. Russell Westbrook has been in more big time series than almost anyone in the league. I’m sure Kawhi has also done some stuff that I can’t really recall at the moment. The point is, these guys are really good.
This isn’t Dillon Brooks out there being a wrestling heel or Jalen Green tweeting that he’s “taking notes”. Nope. This is the real deal. This is a team that has legitimate designs on winning a championship and might be desperate enough to trade for James Harden in order to accomplish that goal. They are a wild animal backed into a corner and the Spurs a baby deer wandering into the forest with big dreams.
This game was a wake up call. Every time out on the floor isn’t going to have a raucous home crowd ready to erupt any time one of our boys makes a nice entrance pass into the post. This season is going to be full of guys who spent all summer hearing about the tall kid who is might be the best prospect of all time. They heard all about the 19 year old who is going to defy expectations and win Defensive Player of the Year. They’ve all been told that the Spurs tyrannical rule of of the NBA was making a dramatic comeback and they have all collectively said, “we’ll see about that.”
Victor is probably used to it at this point. People have been gunning for him since he was a 12 year old kid out there dunking on adult men. This is his life and I have no doubt that he’s ready for it. The thing we’re going to have to settle in to find about is...what about the rest of them?
I really like this group. KJ and Sochan and Devin and all the rest. They are fun and talented and, when it comes to the Spurs Culture, it sure seems like they get it. They battled through some tough years and lived to tell about it. The thing is, they did most of that work under the cover of darkness. No national TV games. No press attention. Nothing. They were grinding it out in the shadows and they were great at it and we loved them for it. But, can they do it now that the lights have come on?
I want to be clear, I don’t doubt their toughness for a second. It’s just that this is a different ball game now. This is going to be a gauntlet and every single team is bringing their very best shot night after night after night. Not everyone is built for that kind of grind.
I honestly felt a little sad watching this game. The scoreline played a part in that, sure, but there was a different sort of melancholy weaving it’s way in. I want the Spurs to win and I want the Spurs to be the best version of themselves and last night reinforced the thing we all know but probably didn’t want to fully acknowledge. This season is a competition. It’s about seeing who fits in with what we’re building and who doesn’t. I think we all have visions of the grand future that a talent like Wembanyama is poised to lead us into and not everyone gets to go on that particular journey. We all want the Spurs to be great and, well, there is a price that has to paid for that.
Maybe we have reached the end of a certain kind of journey. The thing is, the really hard stuff might be just getting started.
- The reality of the Point Sochan experience is really starting to sink in. It sounds so fun and I want it to work so bad. That lineup has everything I want it to have. The length! The versatility! The Vibes! I want the Spurs to be the Big Bad Vibes Boys and I want everyone else to have to deal with it. It’s just that it’s going to take some work. A lot of work. So much work. Possibly more work than I’m actually comfortable with. It’s great that we have this season as something of a lab that we get to run our little experiments in, but holy moly do I miss having a real point guard out there running the offense. I know Jeremy is working and I know he shows flashes of being able to do this and make the Big Bad Vibes Boys Lineup a reality I just....whew. It’s going to be a long season.
- I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from Zach Collins early on. He plays with an energy and enthusiasm that makes me feel like I’m out there fighting with him. He has absolutely ZERO fear of getting dunked on and I realize that doesn’t sound like a compliment, but I assure that its one of the main things I value in a big man. He’s not worried about getting embarrassed, no, he contests everything. He stands tall and he affects the way dudes have to get to the rim in ways that don’t show up on the stat sheet. It’s going to be fascinating to watch everyone in the league look at Wemby and then look at Zach and be like, “IMA TRY THE SMALL ONE” and then realize that my guy is still 6’11 once they are already in the air.
- I’m going to try and acknowledge at least one thing that Wemby does every game that makes me say, in the most professional basketball analysis voice possible, “lol.” For example, this little thing in the first quarter that was really just a little tip in but, do to the bananas proportions of his Wemby’s body, looked more like Collin’s kind of just tossed in a bank shot off a floating guy. You don’t expect a guy who looks like him to be able to float as delicately as this and yet, there he goes. Gliding through the paint with his arm outstretched saying, “here, Zach, mon ami, my arm is yours.”
WWL Post Game Press Conference
- Back for another year, do you feel ready to get the season going?
- If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready, you know?
- How does that particular idiom translate to the writing game?
- Well, you know, writing is really just the tool we use to bring the takes to life. I don’t “write” in the offseason. No, that would be insane. Only a crazy person would write when they don’t have to. However, I do continue dreaming up takes on pretty much anything and everything at any given moment.
- So you’re just constantly cooking up takes?
- It’s like breathing at this point.
- Any good ones from over the summer you’d care to share?
- I think we, as a society, should cool it with suede.
- Oh, so like not just basketball takes then. Why are we out on suede?
- Why were we ever in in the first place? Its the least durable fabric we have. You have to fuss over it CONSTANTLY to make it look even semi-respectable. The color fades almost immediately and not in a cool way.
- You also can’t wear it when it’s wet out, right?
- Yea, the only thing that handles water this bad is a witch and I think that should tell you everything you need to know.