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What We Learned from the Spurs latest loss to the Clippers

The Spurs continue their losing ways, and Coach Pop grabs the mic

Los Angeles Clippers v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Well, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if we weren’t all a little annoyed with dad, right?

Let’s talk about it. Look, I love Gregg Popovich. I think he has a largely infallible basketball mind and is an indelible fixture in the game. He’s a legend. He’s the best San Antonio Spurs coach of all time. He’s one of the best coaches in all of sports! I love Coach Pop and, frankly, I think it’s sort of blasphemous not to. All of that being said, his words were a bit tone deaf last night.

The most annoying part is that I mostly agree with him! We probably should stop booing Kawhi. It’s beneath us, it happened a long time ago, and it’s time to let it go. Shoot, I’ve even flirted with whispering the concept of maybe bringing him back into the fold once this Clippers thing inevitably blows up! (I’m thinking about whispering about it, don’t yell at me yet.) If Pop had gotten up in a press conference after the game and simply said, “Hey, I wish the fans would stop booing Kawhi. He was am important part of the orginization and we’ve moved on” then I’m probably sitting here and applauding him for, once again, being the most mature person in the room. The voice of reason. The wise conscious of the Spurs.

This wasn’t mature though, was it? This was brazen. This was didactic. This was something else entirely. It felt...wrong. It just did. It was like there was some intangible line out there that I couldn’t possibly even conceive of existing and he just ever so slightly stepped across it. I didn’t like it when it was happening and the taste has only grown more sour the further we get away from it.

In some ways, it felt like a taste of how he treats his players. All the stuff about how he was never afraid to yell at Tim Duncan even though he was the best player on the floor. How he held everyone to the same standard and it raised the level of the team to an even higher plane of existence. We love that stuff, right? That’s part of what makes him great and it’s part of the DNA of why the Spurs have been such a great franchise over the years.

So why did it not sit right when he turned that particular gaze on us last night? Well, for one, we don’t play for him. That should seem obvious, but I feel like it’s a very important distinction to make. We are not his players and he is not our coach. That’s now how this relationship works at all. We have to respect that he has authority over basketballing decisions and he has to respect that we have authority of fan decisions. If he wants to play Jeremy Sochan at point guard, well, then he gets to do that. If we want to be pissed off about Kawhi Leonard leaving us in the lurch six years ago then we get to do that. They might both be bad ideas, but they are our bad ideas and we get to make them.

I think Gregg Popovich feels a certain amount of ownership of this franchise that he has been a part of for the last three decades. I’m sure he feels entitled to those feelings because of everything he’s done for it and, look, I don’t need to spell out that legacy for you because I’m sure everyone reading this is well aware. He’s done a lot. So much. More than we probably know. But at the end of the day, he is still just a steward for this basketball team. A brilliant, kind, amazing and wonderful steward, but a steward nonetheless.

Being a fan is different. It’s special and it’s important because without us, none of it matters. It’s just some guys, a ball and a hoop. The fans make it important. We make it matter. We give the game its soul. We don’t get the big contracts and we don’t get to live in the massive houses. We don’t have books written about us and no one is interviewing us on TV. We don’t get any of that. What we get is the team. We get to share it with our families and we get to live and die with it. We get to make it a part of our lives and our culture. We get to make it a part of us. Long after Gregg Popovich retires, we’re still going to be here giving life to this franchise.

Gregg Popovich matters a whole lot to us, but for a moment there, he forgot what this relationship is. He doesn’t get to decide that. We do. He might be in charge of the players, but we’re in charge of ourselves.

Takeaways:

  • Seriously though, we should stop booing Kawhi.
  • We are officially in the “hey, this loss wasn’t as bad as some of the other losses” phase of the season so...that’s great. Boy I would bite your arm off for a win right now. I know we’re resigned to a steady regiment of Wins and Losses Don’t Matter but truly, for my sanity, I’d just like to see them win one here soon. The attitude in the locker room might be upbeat but the morale out here is starting to flag a little bit.
  • It was a better loss than some of the others though. Wembanyama looked like himself and Sochan had his best game in a long time. The team was competitive and scrappy and it looked like everyone was rowing in the same direction. They held their own and fought to the end. Most nights that’s going to be the main thing we want to see and I’d be happy to get back to that attitude if they could just win one single game real quick so I can stop watching that losing streak number climb higher and higher after every game. Please. Just one game.
  • It was good to see Devin starting to look a little more in rhythm. I hate that these injuries keep causing his game to sort of stop and start like this. A healthy and flowing Devin Vassell cures a lot of ills.
  • If I ever get tired of seeing stuff like this I hope someone pours a bucket of cold water on my head because...lol

WWL Post Game Press Conference

- Is it hacky if I ask you what your favorite Thanksgiving food is?

- A little, but I’m willing cut you a little slack in the spirit of the season.

- So....what’s your flavor?

- It’s green bean casserole. The one with the little Fried onion crunchies on top? That’s the one.

- This feels like one of those things you say just to be contrarian.

- A little bit, but what do you want from me? Saying turkey is too obvious and saying “nobody actually likes turkey” is somehow even more obvious. There’s really only so many sides to choose from and they’re all great. I dunno, I feel like there isn’t an interesting answer and green bean casserole is literally the only one of these that I never, ever, ever eat outside of Thanksgiving day.

- Is the fact that there isn’t an interesting answer to this question part of why you think it’s hacky?

- No, I’m pretty sure that fact is the entire reason it’s hacky.