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May 1, 2012

An Essay on Spur Hating

-- A rant and rave concerning the San Antonio Spurs. Nothing more.

The way I see it my life would be improved two ways if I were Leonardo Dicaprio.

1) I’d have the same first name as a Ninja Turtle.
2) I’d be able to implant thoughts into minds via inception

Alas I’m not Leonardo; I don’t even think I could pull off a Leonard. And when it comes to the art of inception, the only things I learned from the movie were the simple tidbits all of us picked up: that Christoper Nolan is indeed a stud and why yes, that sidekick whose name no one knows did star on 3rd Rock from the Sun when he was a kid.

Though I lack the techniques and technology required to infiltrate and sabotage your mind, I do have unlimited paragraphs and I’d like to use them all to convince you of one thing: to hate the San Antonio Spurs as much as I do. I try not to ask much of you reader, just that you overlook my comma misplacements and grammar fails. That being said, if you won’t do it for me, please, at least do it for the Jazz.

If you happen to subscribe to the order of Jazz fan there are probably a few teams that already consume most of your capacity for hatred. The Lakers, naturally, with their non-stop winning. The Bulls for a couple of things that happened once in 1997 and 1998. Dick Bavetta for being a Dick. The Nuggets, for airing a commercial about Carmelo Anthony’s fans of Utah and for their all-around Thugget-ness. It is fine to dislike these teams – but to dislike them more than the Spurs is an affront to Jazz lore past, present and future.

Allow me to remind you of some information you may have simply forgotten or purposefully concussed yourself into forgetting. San Antonio-related information. With any luck it will spur (Get it? Get it?) your hatred of the Spurs:

Let’s start with the beatings. San Antonio once beat the Jazz 18 times in a row during a hellacious 2000 to 2004 span. Yeah, it’s a record. My least favorite one, come to think of it.

Five years ago the Spurs eliminated the Jazz during the deepest playoff run they’ve had since 1998. After the Williams-Boozer-Okur trio led the Jazz to the Western Conference Finals, it was the Spurs and their striped brethren that ended the Jazz dream season.

The Spurs also just swept the Jazz out of the playoffs in embarrassing fashion, oh, what, twenty days ago?

What do you remember about the 2004 Summer Olympics? Do you remember that the men’s basketball team lost more games (3) than in all previous Olympics combined? Do you remember that Puerto Rico handed the US its most lopsided loss in the history of international competition? Puerto friekin’ Rico! And do you remember who captained that Titanic of a tournament? None less than the high-and-mighty, greatest-basketball-player-in-history I’d-marry-him-if-I-could Tim Duncan. And who dare you ask was the first assistant on the team? You guessed it. Greg Poppovich. Keep that in mind the next time you hear about the never ending greatness of Greg and Tim.

Of further interest, Mr. Tim Duncan wasn’t even born in the proper United States. And despite losing to Puerto Rico and Lithuania, the US still had a shot at gold until they fell to Argentina, a team led by none other than Duncan’s best pal Manu Ginobli. So I’m usually not one for conspiracy theories… but come on. A non-US born star playing for the U.S., throwing a game to his foreign teammate? You could do worse as far as cover-ups go..

The Spurs have the lamest uniforms in sports. You may not view this as an acceptable reason to hate them. I do. A black and white color scheme with a logo noteworthy for not being notable. One wonders if an accountant designed their suits.

I can – and will—argue with anyone that the Spurs are the team most responsible for bringing the flop to the NBA. The ideas of falling down after every shot or screaming in pain while cutting to the lane didn’t exist in the Jordan-Magic-Ewing-Malone-Olajuwan days. Such non-masculine activities were confined to soccer and the foreign countries that supported it. And which team first capitalized on the foreign market for NBA players? By george, you guessed it again! The Spurs! Like parasites or mad-cow disease, Manu Ginobli of Argentina and Tony Parker of France brought more than a propensity to travel when they crossed into the USA. So everyone put your hands together and let’s thank Manu and Tony for making the soccer flop a beloved part of the NBA.

This brings up another key point regarding Spur-hating: Tony Parker is from France.

This brings up another key point regarding Spur-hating: Boris Diaw is from France.

That brings up another key point regarding Spur-hating: Tony Parker cheated on Eva Longoria. Why is this infuriating? The laws of the physics demand that only attractive men are allowed to break the hearts of attractive women. Besides getting away with breaking traveling laws, Tony has somehow defied the universe without repercussion.

The Spurs celebrate the winning of the 1999 McDonald’s Championship on their Wikipedia page. What does that even mean? Only the Spurs know. And only the Spurs care.

The Spurs employed one of the dirtiest, least respectable NBA players of all-time: Bruce Bowen, he of the groin kick and the throat elbow. Phil Jackson once referred to Bowen as “Eddie Scissorhands” in one of the few moments I’ve ever liked Phil Jackson. YouTube “Bruce Bowen Kicks” if you’re curious.

The Spurs succes can be linked directly to having tanked in 1997 in order to get Tim Duncan. So congratulations! You Spurs were a perennial championship contender, decided you weren’t good enough, sat David Robinson for an entire season season, quit in every game and lucked into the number one seed and picked Tim Duncan. What a way to build a dynasty!

The media’s willingness to excuse the Spurs whenever they err is another reason you should hate San Antonio. Just last year, the Spurs ascended to the top seed in the West before being absolutely walloped by the eighth seeded Memphis Grizzlies. It was only the third time in history an 8-seed had upset a 1-seed and I was looking forward to the mockery that would consequently befall the Spurs. Yet on ESPN and in papers nation-wide the experts’ chalked the loss up to Memphis being a “bad match-up” for the Spurs. Really? They weren’t simply beaten, out-played, not as good as we thought? Nope. Just a bad match-up guys, a tough break. And what was Michael Jordan playing anyone during his career? A good match up? Even when the Spurs lose they can do no harm.

The Spurs have won four championships with Duncan and Poppovich at the helm, and as a result are widely renowned as one of the great dynasties of this latest basketball era. That being said, Bill Simmons recently destroyed each of their titles in a column in which he highlighted 20 NBA champions whose victory came in part thanks to an incredibly fortunate break. Please read it and be informed that the Spurs won two championships by beating the two weakest teams to ever make the Finals, won another thanks to Chris Webber, Dirk Nowitzki, Joe Johnson, Patrick Ewing and Dwayne Wade getting injured in the playoffs, and another thanks to Robert Horry body-checking Steve Nash into the scorer’s table which led to a brawl and the suspension of Phoenix’s best player during the series. What a way to build a dynasty!

Wait, Dennis Rodman played for the Spurs? Of course he did.

Maybe you watched the Spurs just torch the Jazz in the opening round of the playoffs. If you didn’t see one of those games, do your hater a favor and watch them and watch how the Spurs (and their coach) complain after every call, whine about every whistle, and flop at the slightest sign of contact. It will only take one game to prime your hate. You may think those words are mere bias and opinion, but the Spurs team used to play in an arena named “Moody Coliseum”. Doesn’t that back up at least a little of what I’m telling you?

Manu Ginobli was given the nickname – at least for one period – of “Batman”. Has there ever been a person less-deserving of such a great naming? First of all someone who carries the nickname of Batman shouldn’t play basketball like a sissy. Secondly Batman is a defender of America and as such should be American. Manu Ginboli is from Argentina, the enemy of my forefathers’ Uruguay and the same place the last girl to ever dump me calls home. I don’t like Argentina. Third, Batman isn’t bald. I would know.

Greg Poppovich is somehow credited year after year for developing a winning team with a “weak” roster. How was this myth ever started? Who can honestly call the Spurs roster weak? Do the Spurs not start two all-stars, one of which is a two-time MVP, as well as bring a third all-star off the bench? Do they not have the number one three point shooter in the league? Do they not bring a former Spanish Supercup MVP off the bench as well in Tiago Splitter? Don’t they have the former Big East player of the Year in Dejuan Blair, and isn’t that Jimmer’s rival Kawai Leonard I see starting at the three? At one point during the Jazz-Spurs series I heard an announcer say the Spurs bench could start in the NBA. Then when Poppovich won the Coach of the Year award I read about how great a job Pop did with such a limited roster. Is the rest of the world under some Texas highjynx voodoo? How does Ty Corbin get penalized for having Jefferson and Millsap while Poppovich is lauded for having Parker, Ginobli, Duncan and a host of skilled role players? It’s something I will never be able to understand.

A final reason to hate the Spurs – they are waging war on the Jazz’s historic accomplishments. Look, the Spurs and the Jazz have had some similarities throughout the years. They both are small-market teams. In their hey-day they each employed dominant power forwards, point guards that ran the show, and fed off of what many considered to be the best coach in the game. So why do I hate the Spurs and why should you? Because Tim Duncan has won more titles than Karl Malone and as such has passed him as the greatest power forward of all-time (a true miracle considering Duncan isn’t a power forward, but whatever). Because Greg Poppovich is on pace to break Jerry Sloan’s records for longevity and success with one team. Because San Antonio as a small market has done what Utah’s small market hasn’t been able to do. All that will be left in a handful of years is for Tony Parker to take down the steals and assists records from John.

And yet do you think Karl Malone would’ve allowed the U.S to fall to Lithuania, Puerto Rico and Argentina in the Olympics? Do you think Poppovich could’ve coached the 2004 Jazz squad led by Andrei Kirilenko and Matt Harpring to within one game of the playoffs? Do you think any of the four Spur championship teams could’ve hung with MJ and the Bulls? A dynasty built on good fortune, tanking, and the floppiness of athletes raised on soccer is all I see when I think of the Spurs. Had the ping pong balls fallen differently or if multiple stars hand’t been injured come playoff time or if the Spurs hadn’t run into two of the weakest teams of all-time in the NBA Finals, then Tim would not be greater than Karl, Greg greater than Jerry. And yet there the Spurs are, considered among the greatest players, teams and coaches of all-time. I hope some part of that makes you mad. If not, well, I’ve never been much of a persuader, powers of inception or not.

Nathan Ballard, an associate and academic on the subject of Spur hating, once summed up my feelings toward San Antonio in two succinct sentences:

“I do remember the Alamo. And I remember I wish the U.S would have never taken it back.”

Thanks for nothing, Mexico.

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