San Antonio Spurs fans need to take a step back and be thankful
By Ethan Farina
The San Antonio Spurs recently struggles have been painful but Spurs fans still have so much to be thankful for.
Across the landscape of professional sports in the United States, you rarely see sustained success lasting more than a few years. It’s rare to see any team go on a run that spans generations and unites a fanbase across decades. It’s even more uncommon to see a small market team do it. The San Antonio Spurs are the rarest of exceptions to that standard.
My family moved to San Antonio when I was just five years old. We arrived in 1999 and discovered that, in a state crazy about football, San Antonio was a basketball town. Shortly after we’d arrived, watching Spurs games became a regular occurrence in our family. It didn’t take long for me to fall headfirst into Spurs fandom. Frankly, we couldn’t have become Spurs fans at a better time.
San Antonio had just drafted Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, they would add Tony Parker two years later. That would be the beginning of the longest stretch of sustained excellence the NBA has ever seen. Even now as the Spurs chase a record-breaking 23rd playoff appearance I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. Since I became a fan of the Spurs I have never once seen them miss the playoffs.
Over that time period, the Spurs as we know them have undergone many changes. Together the Big Three endured every stylistic change the NBA threw at them and kept on winning. It all peaked from 2012 to 2014 when San Antonio played the most beautiful basketball I have ever seen.
There were rough times to be sure. The loss against the Miami Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals and the ending to Kawhi Leonard‘s time in San Antonio are the most memorable. But none derailed the Spurs machine, the team kept on stringing together winning seasons like clockwork.
As the years went on Spurs fans, myself included, became accustomed to the success. You could go so far as to say that we became numb to it. It became less celebrated and more of an afterthought. It’s not a stretch to say Spurs fans are spoiled, we are. Over the past two decades, we’ve seen multiple Hall of Famers, experienced countless playoff wins, and celebrated multiple NBA titles.
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All of that success makes the Spurs’ current struggles all the more painful. As fans, we’re not used to seeing our team near the bottom of the Western Conference. It’s an alien feeling and an uncomfortable one. But its something that almost every other NBA fanbase has had to endure at some point over the past twenty years.
There’s no easy solution to the Spurs struggles and they don’t look like they will be climbing out of this rut any time soon. But as a fan, I would encourage other Spurs fans to take this rough patch and use it to put the past two decades in perspective. We’ve been the luckiest fanbase in the world. It’s time we appreciate that a little bit more.
As painful as this eight-game losing streak has been, it’s the longest stretch of losing we have had to endure since Gregg Popovich took over as head coach. While fanbases like those in Milwaukee and New York spent much of the past 20 years struggling to make the playoffs, we’ve never had to endure so much as an eight-game losing streak. Be thankful for that.
As painful as it is to see Lonnie Walker struggle to get playing time, be thankful that we have a promising prospect like him to put our hopes on. Be thankful that there’s a trio of promising rookies toiling away in Austin to be the next great group of Spurs players.
It’s been a brutal start to the season to be sure. But if the price of two decades of sustained greatness is coming back to earth and losing eight in a row that’s a price that I’d gladly pay time and time again.