Be honest, you find the San Antonio Spurs really hard to root for. You may respect their team approach to the game (I do), but there is something that makes this team led by the trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili very hard to root for. And this makes this year’s NBA Finals re-match between the Spurs and Heat all the more difficult to get excited for. I do not want to the Heat to three-peat. It has been hard enough watching LeBron, Dwayne Wade and Mr. Pterodactyl (Chris Bosh) win the last two NBA Finals. So I am unquestionably rooting against the Heat but to say that I am rooting for the Spurs is going too far.
I was stuck in this same conundrum last year. I was not able to pin-point my inability to actively root for the Spurs until recently. It was after watching the Spurs in the early rounds of the playoffs that I found my answer. I find it so hard to root for the Spurs because it is hard to root for a team that treats emotion like a disease. When the Finals tip-off this Thursday night on ABC, pay attention to not just the trio of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, but their coach Greg Popovich as well. If you watch their facial expressions you would think they are filing their taxes or getting a prostate exam, not getting paid millions of dollars to play or coach a game and compete for a championship. Why the look of drudgery? Cheer up guys, you get to coach and play basketball for a living, it’s not like you are working the counter at the DMV. Last time I was at the DMV I actually witnessed a small smile from one of the employees. I cannot say the same when watching the Spurs.
It is hard to cheer on a team to victory when they do not appear to care. The Spurs obviously do care about winning because you do not win four NBA titles since 1999 and sit ready to compete for a fifth if you do not care about winning, but the Spurs do a terrible job of even feigning interest in the game. Some have attempted to sugar coat the Spurs emotional shortcomings by descripting the Spurs as “business like.” Sorry, that doesn’t work. If I want to watch a bunch of guys acting “business like” I can simply walk up and down the halls of my law firm. Very business like, not fun to watch.
This no emotion “business like” attitude starts with the Spurs’ coach Greg Popovich. Popovich is a great coach, but he sits right at the top of the list of snarky coaches who seem to believe that smiling or savoring victory is a sign of weakness. Think Nick Saban and Bill Belichick. Saban and Belichick don’t even smile after winning titles and neither does Popovich. Instead of winning a championship you would think these guys just found out they have terminal rectal cancer and have ten days to live. Popovich has unfortunately been very good at passing this trait on to his players. If Spurs owner Peter Holt is interested in finding a nickname more suitable than Spurs for his coach and players the San Antonio Mules would fit nicely.
What makes rooting for a team fun is to see your joy and enthusiasm matched if not exceeded by the team you are rooting for. The team’s excitement validates your excitement as a fan. When you root for the Spurs you have to stop and ask yourself why you care so much when the players and coach don’t appear to care. The Spurs would fit right in as a Russian professional sports team. Stone faced Vladimir Putin could be their number one fan and would mandate that all fans embrace a perpetual look of drudgery. After all, Russia and drudgery go hand in hand.
So while I will not be rooting for the Heat, I will also not be rooting for the Spurs. Calling it a tie would be fine with me. Ties are un-American, boring and unfulfilling, but then so are the Spurs.
Posted by Hatch