The Slighted Spurs

Ignored by a generation for nearly a decade and a half, the Tim Duncan-led Spurs may have won more than a Championship with their impressive win over the Miami Heat. Finally.

Parker Duncan Ginobili

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Walk around a shopping mall, NBA arena or any public place that may feature young NBA fans and you will never see a piece of San Antonio Spurs apparel. A Kobe Bryant jersey? Yes. LeBron James’ latest sneakers? Probably. A Celtics or Knicks t-shirt? Definitely a possibility.

But for generation Y, the Spurs seem to have little to no fans nationwide. Why is that? Have they not won enough? It can’t be that. The Spurs just captured their fifth title in 17 seasons, more than any other franchise during this span. With so many likeable characters such as Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs are recognized worldwide as a winner. Amazingly this does not seem to seize the attention of the average NBA fan of my generation. I have a few hunches on why this may be, and here they are…

Not Flashy Enough

One argument that is made as to why the Spurs have not grown a fan base outside of San Antonio is because their players are just not flashy enough. Tim Duncan’s quiet, team first attitude may win him championships but does not win him any huge sneaker deals or TV endorsements. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili’s international charm make it difficult for them to be stars in the States.

In the era of band-wagoning (you can literally find fans of different sports teams everywhere), the Spurs garner no nationwide appeal. Popovich is great, but he doesn’t love the spotlight like a Phil Jackson in L.A., and doesn’t have the same charisma of a Doc Rivers in Boston. Personality and lack of endorsements have to be the case for a lack of support from generation Y. This is incredibly disappointing, but I guess my generation would rather see the highlight reel dunk, then the five passes in the half-court offense that it took to get Danny Green that wide open back-door lay-up.

The Boring Factor

At this point, fans of all ages, including the media, seem to know the Spurs will be there at the end. Therefore, no one discusses them. If you listened to any radio show, or Sports Center at the beginning of the NBA season, media pundits dabbled with the possibility of a Durant-LeBron Finals showdown, or the Bulls or Pacers as a surprise champion. No one made mention of the Spurs. As for all the top teams, they were the least talked about. Ask most NBA fans, and they would probably stumble on the question of who had the best record in the regular season this year – No, it wasn’t Durant and Westbrook and the Thunder. No, it wasn’t LeBron James and the Heat. It was the Spurs. Again.

And, when it comes to discussions of the the MVP race, you can surely bet on one name being left of the list. The Spurs had the best record, but no one made mention of Tony Parker for MVP. He may be the league’s best point guard on the league’s best team, yet he is not even considered a serious candidate. So, why no love for TP9? The only explanation for this is that the personalities and style of play of LeBron James and Kevin Durant are so much more captivating that the media has fallen into the same trap as the average NBA fan. It’s a vicious cycle.

The Outlier

Many of the older people outside of my generation that I discuss sports with do not consider themselves NBA fans. They enjoy basketball, but prefer college. This is for one sole reason: College basketball is more a “team game.” Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I am wondering if these same people who call college basketball a “team game” and the NBA a “one-on-one” circus watched this year’s NBA Finals.

Although in many cases these fans may be right – the NBA is more “one-on-one” driven; the Spurs are exactly the opposite of that. In this case, they are truly an outlier. And, maybe, just maybe this is the reason generation Y is so fascinated with the likes of Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Although all three are terrific passers, their style of play is much more flashy and bold than the fundamentally sound Spurs.

Throughout NBA history, I would have a hard time believing any NBA team has had ball movement as swift as San Antonio. The chemistry displayed by the Spurs is incredible, and if you truly love the sport of basketball, the Spurs embody traditional “team play.” So, to those college basketball fans who don’t watch the NBA – give it another shot. You might just become a Spurs fan, because no one plays the game at a higher level.

Shouldn’t Everyone Be A Spurs Fan?

Up until two seasons ago I constituted the fan that I have written about in this article. I generally always rooted against the Spurs. They always win, I figured, and Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, Popovich? No personality. They’re boring to watch.

Then they played Miami, and I had to root for them because they were the underdog. Everyone loves an underdog, right? They embraced that role, and took Miami to seven games (in a series they should have won). At that moment, in the 2013 NBA Finals, I really became a fan of the Spurs. It was then that I truly grasped how well they moved the ball, and played the game the right way. For years, I viewed them as a sour spot for the league; a team that won too much with no real excitement. And, then, it dawned on me. As fans, we are watching great basketball. We all will really regret when Duncan, Parker and Ginobili are no longer lacing up their sneakers in June.

It’s not all about the stars either. San Antonio has had role players make major contributions over the years. This season was no different. Boris Diaw, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter – these guys play such vital roles for San Antonio. Patty Mills? Aaron Baynes? I asked myself: these guys actually play? And in the playoffs? Yes, and they contribute greatly. Kawhi Leonard may be the Spurs best player; and we are just realizing it now. This team’s foundation is unlike any other in sports.

Overall, San Antonio’s ride to greatness over the past 17 seasons has been nothing short of incredible. Are they boring? Yes. Do they lack personality and endorsement deals? Yes. But endorsement deals, personality and a flashy style of play don’t win Championships. The Spurs just win.

Now, don’t you think you should be a fan?

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About Tyler Michels

Tyler is an NC State alum living in Raleigh, NC. Growing up in Northwest New Jersey, Tyler developed a love for New York sports teams, driving his desire to become a writer. In his free time, Tyler can probably be found on a golf course.

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