In my last post, I mentioned that I was going to the Spurs’ first road game, here in Los Angeles against the Clippers. One of the comments to my post was jealous of my opportunity:
Why do you have to hammer out the fact that you are attending the live game while we lesser mortals could not, that hurts!!!
What hurt was attending the game, even though we had great seats, thanks to my friend Marc. But the game was all downhill after this highlight:
Actually, the highlights were right about the first minute mark of the game. Shortly after Victor Wembanyama won the tip in that picture, Paul George missed a three, Keldon Johnson made a three to put the Spurs up 3-0, Victor blocked a shot at the other end, immediately pushed the ball up court — all 7’3” of him — and drew a foul. That was the end of the highlights, because he missed both free throws, the Clippers scored the next 10 points, and the rout was on. I am sure it was no better watching it on television or listening on the radio, but at least you could change the channel. We stayed until the bitter end, seeing the Spurs get out-scored in every quarter. Pop even stopped calling timeouts, recognizing that sometimes you should need to let the team live through it. And they barely did.
The last few years, I have attended virtually every Spurs game in Los Angeles, thanks to good friends who invite me to the games. The Spurs have not been a big draw in LA recently, but they were Sunday night. The arena was filled with more celebrities than normal for a Clipper game — for instance, Lamar Odom was at the end of my row.
The other big change was the number of Spurs jerseys. Back in the Big Three days, you would see numerous Duncan, Parker and Ginobili jerseys, but not nearly as many of those jerseys showed up as the Spurs win totals dwindled. Sunday night was like the old days, with folks in Spurs gear all over the place, and we all greeted each other with smiles. The most popular Spurs jersey was a Wembanyama number 1 jersey — like in this picture from before the game:
And this guy had the classic Coyote jersey:
People in LA who have never had the pleasure of watching the Coyote perform were surely confused by that one. I was also momentarily confused by a group of three or four fans wearing France soccer shirts at this basketball game — but I then figured out who they were there to see, and it was most likely not Nicolas Batum of the Clippers.
At halftime, with the score 56-37, I ran into Sean Elliott, who saw that I was wearing a Spurs hat. I told him that the turnovers were killing us (unofficial stats indicated the Spurs had a zillion by that time), and Sean — who was NOT pleased — correctly deduced that “the team did not show up ready to play”. I assume he was saying the same thing on the broadcast. A few minutes later, I spoke to Michelle Beadle, who described the first half in a way which she said she could not say on the broadcast, though she wished she could. It involved the word sh***y. By the way, she is as nice in person as she seems on air, and I told her that she makes every broadcast she is on better.
As mentioned above, we stayed until the end, as did most of the other fans wearing Spurs gear. I spoke to a group of four of them walking out, and their message was that this was a young team, and things will surely get better. Amen. A few moments later, while waiting for the light to change, I was next to two people speaking French. My French is a bit rusty, but it sounded like they were also optimistic about the team’s future. At least, I think that is what “sacrebleu” means.