Beginning during their franchise record-setting 17th straight loss against the Houston Rockets and stretching into the next morning, Editor-in-Chief J.R. Wilco, Jesus Gomez and Marilyn Dubinski got into an extended conversation about what is actually going on with the Spurs and why they are so mindbogglingly bad. It ended up being a long and therapeutic conversation as more than just writers and coworkers, but also as fans and friends.
In the end, we decided it was worth sharing with our Pounding the Rock family, where you too can see our raw, unfiltered opinions as opposed to what we write in more formal settings. With that, we kick things off during the Rockets game:
Jesus Gomez: How are the Spurs so bad in so many different but obvious ways? It’s so weird to watch.
J.R. Wilco: It would be more curious if it wasn’t so obviously intentional.
Gomez: Yeah. I still ask “why?” three times a quarter — even though I know the answer is “because we are tanking”.
Wilco: Here’s a metaphor that keeps coming back to in my mind: it’s like walking into an office where someone has their teenager sitting at their parent’s desk, and you think, “That’s odd. I wonder why George has his kid working in his place today. Well, let’s see what kind of work they’ll be able to produce.”
Halfway through the day, you go by to see what they’ve done, and they’re halfway through hammering a nail through their keyboard into the desk. Only instead of a hammer, they’re using an iPhone. And you think, “Certainly they’re capable of doing something more than just destroying stuff. They could at least type an email or something. But even if they had been told to secure the keyboard to the desk with a nail, anyone would know not to do that with an iPhone!”
And yet, they keep happily banging away on the nail with the iPhone, destroying both the phone and the keyboard and damaging the desk — and there are no explanations forthcoming.
Gomez: That’s not a bad way to put it.
Marilyn Dubinski: I’ll be honest, if I could, I would probably be taking a break from watching them for my own sanity. They’re bordering on unwatchable, and even the novelty of (Victor Wembanyama) is wearing off because he can’t shoot to save his life right now, and despite this he’s still taking more jumpers than anything.
Gomez: Yeah, there’s not a lot to get excited about right now, unfortunately.
Wilco: Last year was worse for me because there was no guarantee that any of those guys would be with the team long term or be great one day. But now, at least we can expect to say, “I remember when Victor...”
Dubinski: Yeah, but at least we knew what they were trying to do last year, and against all the odds, it paid off! I just never thought they’d get worse before they got better.
Wilco: I don’t think any of us thought this season would be this stinky. That’s what makes it sting, as you mentioned in the last In the Bonus.
But here we are, and there’s a stink.
Gomez: I think what bothers me is that they could be better or at least more fun to watch. It’s like they are not only trying to lose but they’re going out of their way to give us a substandard product.
Wilco: How much I wish they were more fun to watch. The iPhone/hammer situation is infuriating to me. The whole time I’m watching I’m internally screaming, “No! That’s a high tech piece of equipment!! Don’t treat it like a blunt instrument!!!”
(The next day...)
Wilco: We know that “on pace for” means nothing, but... San Antonio is currently pointed toward an eleven-win season.
Gomez: Sure, the record is awful, but at least (Jeremy) Sochan and (Zach) Collins lost their confidence and Victor’s bad habits are running unopposed — so the longest streak in franchise history was worth it!
Wilco: Well, if Pop corrected them, then the team would win more games. So...
Gomez: LOL right. If the team was in New York, there’d be a SNL skit with a Spurs’ decision tree for adjustments and changes that reads something like: “would it result in more wins?” Yes. “Then we won’t do it.”
Dubinski: I laughed at yesterday’s NBA.com Powering Rankings, where John Schuhmann called the Spurs’ approach the “‘Start Anybody But A Point Guard At Point Guard’ Challenge”. Would it help? Yes. Will they do it? Apparently not!
Wilco: Funny! Seems clear to me what’s happening — the team is going back to the tank well for another go.
Dubinski: Interestingly, there are any number of Spurs writers currently insisting that the Spurs are not purposefully tanking. That’s not a good defense of Pop or the team right now.
Wilco: I see only three possible explanations for the Spurs season’s performance: A) they’re tanking again (and Pop’s preseason-talk of winning was just misdirection), B) the players aren’t coachable, or C) the coaches can’t coach. I don’t think B or C are worthy of serious consideration, so either there’s a reason I can’t think of, or we’re running last season back to maximize the value of every pick the team has influence over.
Feel free to continue or add to the conversation in the comments, and let us know if you like the informal conversation approach — we just might do more someday.