In case you can’t tell from my previous blogs (or the career path I’ve chosen), I am a huge sports fan. My love of sports is what got me into television.
There are many reasons Bob doesn’t like the Spurs – their record against the Suns being the biggest.
The summer between 7th and 8th grade I was watching one of many Cubs games on WGN and the thought occurred to me that someone, somewhere was getting paid to watch the game I was watching. At that time I had no idea what the role of a producer or director was, but I knew that it would be a pretty good gig to be paid for doing what I already liked to do.
Monday night I got to experience the wildly entertaining NCAA championship game with a sports bar full of hard-core Memphis fans. Every Tigers basket was followed with thunderous applause, each near miss with “ooohs” and “ahhhs”. As their team stretched the lead to 9 with just over 2 minutes remaining, the noise was deafening. The crowd cheered through entire timeouts, passing around high fives and hugs – their team was so close to the ultimate prize they could taste it. You know what happened next. Kansas hit a few shots, the rim shrunk on the Memphis end (just ask Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts) and the rest was history. As the CBS broadcast went to commercial break at the end of regulation after the miracle 3-point field goal from Kansas, I could hear Jim Nantz’s voice for the first time since I’d joined this crowd. The previously raucous bar was as quiet as an oncologist’s waiting room. After the game, the crowd filed out as if leaving a funeral.
The game was one for the ages, an instant classic. I would have enjoyed watching it by myself in my hotel room. But sharing it with those passionate fans elevated the experience and made it more than a game. My traveling broadcast crew (Tom Leander, EJ, Dan Siekmann and Greg Miller) and I talked as much about this great crowd as we did about the game. It was a moment that clarified why I love sports – it brings people together, gives them a sense of pride and unity. Now if only those same fans would show up at FedExForum to support the Grizzlies…
One more thought from Memphis – Rudy Gay is the real deal. A legit 6’8”, he is long, strong and athletic, gets to the rim at will and has a sweet-looking stroke from way back. If he can see the backboard, he’s in his range. He reminds me of my favorite player growing up, Dominique Wilkins, the way he easily navigates traffic and will dunk over people. In only his 2nd year in the NBA, he is as poised and polished a scorer at his age as anyone not named LeBron the league has seen for quite some time. I know that Shane Battier fills a nice role for the Houston Rockets, but can you imagine if they hadn’t made that draft day trade with Memphis and kept Gay? He and McGrady would be unstoppable forces – add Yao Ming to the mix and you’d have a championship contender for the next 5 years.
Speaking of draft day trades, one that I’m sure the Suns regret was in 1974 when they sent a 3rd round pick out of tiny Eastern Michigan to the San Antonio Spurs. His name was George Gervin. And except for the night Charles Barkley turned out the lights at the old Hemisphere Arena with a rainbow over David Robinson, the Spurs have been a nemesis ever since. Which leads me to my list of reasons I hate the Spurs (in no particular order):
- Dirty play: Call it physical, hard-nosed or gritty if you wish. But it’s dirty. I seriously doubt James Naismith would have approved of the clutching, grabbing and kicking (did I mention hip-checking?) that are hallmarks of the silver and black.
- Whining: Is it funny to anyone else that Gregg Popovich owns a winery in Oregon? Have the Spurs committed a single foul over the last 10 seasons without griping? You could take the square root of the number of words Pop says to the officials during a game and it would still be more than any other coach in the NBA. And Tim Duncan’s bug-eyed look at any foul called on him is more tired than the Energizer Bunny.
- Flopping: Just play the game, fellas. No need to act like you’ve been hit by a car every time an opponent drives past you. Raise your hand if you really believe Manu Ginobili can be one of the most graceful offensive players in the game and yet looks like a seizure victim on the defensive side – how does this happen? Bruce Bowen is a tenacious defender – does he really need to dive to the floor so often?
- The Slaughterhouse: If you’ve never been to the AT&T Center, you can’t fully appreciate this one. It’s a big metal barn in the middle of nowhere that looks like a place cattle go to become steak. In NBA terms, it’s exactly that (I think the Spurs are about 200-4 since they moved into the building.)
- The numbers: Truth be told, this is the biggest reason of all. The numbers 3-5 (Phoenix’s playoff series record vs San Antonio) and 4-0 (Spurs titles to Suns titles).
I’m sure I forgot a reason or two (some I can’t really write about on the company website), but they all contribute to the Suns and Spurs being the best rivalry in the NBA over the past 4 seasons. Think of the memorable moments these games have provided (Shaq’s crowd dive last month was just the latest). And don’t miss the next chapter tonight at 6:00 on MY 45.