The Casual Fan's Argument for Hating the San Antonio Spurs

Sean Hojnacki@@TheRealHojnackiFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2013

They've built an admirable dynasty the right way. So why do people love to hate the Spurs?
They've built an admirable dynasty the right way. So why do people love to hate the Spurs?USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs have played outstanding basketball almost without exception for a decade and a half, but they're just not a sexy team.  

For example, the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls are sexy. Their hallowed histories give an extra shine to their uniforms. The Miami Heat are the nouveau riche, but their current prowess is undeniable and jealousy inducing. 

The New York Knicks have been resurrected, and the L.A. Clippers coined "Lob City." Even upstarts like the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors are unequivocally exciting.

But the Spurs are just boring, or so the argument goes. In the small media market of San Antonio, the franchise has maintained stability with its core and its coach, and it's paid off. Big time.

The Spurs have won at least 50 games in each of the last 14 seasons, including the 66-game lockout-shortened season. This year, they were ranked as the 10th-most-valuable franchise in the league by Forbes, because to the victor go the spoils.

Led by their gentle giant, all-time starting power forward Tim Duncan, the Spurs have quietly put in yeoman's work without much flair at all. They just efficiently whittle their opponents away to nothing, which has brought Gregg Popovich and his squad four championships so far.

So why are they so hated? And if that's "too strong" a word for you, why are they so widely disliked?

Let's examine the casual fan's argument, which mainly consists in ignorance, jealousy, a fear of foreigners and a complete misunderstanding of who the 2012-13 Spurs are.


What Does the Casual Fan Know?

I'm not saying you have to watch every game to be a true fan, because most people don't have time for that. There are indeed casual fans who are knowledgeable about the sport in general, but then there are the self-identified fans interviewed for "Lie Witness News" on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

As Kimmel says, "Most people don't know what's going on, but for some reason, they like to pretend they do." So they asked some people walking around in L.A., "are you excited the Lakers are in the NBA Finals?" Many were excited indeed. Yes, about the Lakers being in the finals between the Spurs and Heat. Hmmm.

Speaking of the Heat, Kimmel also dispatched his staff to South Beach and spoke to some "big Miami Heat fans" about their title shots. Specifically, the asked about "the Heat's rhombus offense," "backup point guard Moo Shu Pork" and "coach Erik Estrada." Fans said they didn't think those things would be a problem.

Suffice to say, many casual fans don't know much. This is the baseline of what we're dealing with when it comes to disdain for the Spurs.

But for those who know more, this is why they give the Spurs no regard like they're Rodney Dangerfield.


Boring Big 3

Duncan will undoubtedly assume the mantle as the best power forward in modern NBA history. With apologies to Kevin Garnett, it's about the rings. There's no denying the fine career that Duncan has amassed playing deep in the heart of Texas.

But his understated manner and graceful play have been overshadowed by charismatic behemoths like Shaquille O'Neal and even the always-brash Garnett. Duncan's excellence gets an approving golf clap, and for many the casual fan, inspires about as much excitement.

Then there's Manu Ginobili. The 35-year-old Argentine has been breaking down over the last few seasons, but the wily veteran knows how to get it done when it counts. That's what a championship pedigree can do for you.

While complaints about Ginobili's prolific flopping aren't necessarily misplaced, the level of scorn heaped upon him far outweighs his transgressions.

As for Tony Parker, the Frenchman is more renowned among casual fans for his now-defunct relationship with Eva Longoria and for getting glass in his eye during the nightclub dust-up between Drake and Chris Brown. Never mind that he's been one of the league's finest point guards for a decade.

Why are these three players, and especially Manu, so hard to admire and praise for the average fan? Take a look at Twitter during a Spurs game, and it seems like everyone outside of San Antonio is talking smack, usually unduly.

Timmy plays the game the right way, but he does it too quietly. Meanwhile, Ginobili and Parker just don't fit the mold, as a broad NBA fanbase tries to embrace the savvy of the European league's style, where they both came up.

But it's not like they're alone, as the three guys at the core of the team have plenty of help. 

After all, in Game 3 of the finals, San Antonio's Big Three that guided them to victory was actually Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Gary Neal. As unexpected as that result was, it speaks to the Spurs' excellent scouting and admirable depth.


Lack of Connection/Familiarity With International Players

Nine of the 15 players on the Spurs roster were born outside the contiguous 48 states, an NBA first, according to The New York Times (France: Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Nando de Colo; Australia: Aron Baynes, Patty Mills; Argentina: Manu Ginobili; U.S. Virgin Islands: Tim Duncan; Brazil: Tiago Splitter; Canada: Cory Joseph).

Sure, San Antonio had an all-important Big Three before LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, but each of the Spurs' core trio hail from outside the 50 states. Aside from being boring and dislikable, whether due to celebrity or due to flopping, they're just not A-muh-rican, gosh darnit!

Duncan, Parker and Ginobili lack the brash egotism befitting a proper American superstar. All these guys do is the Eurostep.

And then who are all these other foreigners taking good American jobs? It used to just be guys like Rik Smits breaking through, now half the Spurs bench can form a United Nations council. Where's the kid from inner-city Philly? Where's the farm boy from French Lick?


New-Look Spurs

If you think the Spurs are boring, you obviously haven't been paying very close attention. They have gradually changed styles over the years as their personnel has shifted. Now, gone is the agonizingly slow pace of the Spurs as defensive game managers.

During the past few seasons, they have transformed into a run-and-gun offense with a plethora of perimeter shooters who can capitalize on the team's stellar ball movement. No wonder they led the league in team assists per game.

While their superstars are aging, they still relied on a strategy of attacking their opponents. They averaged the sixth-most possessions per game in the league this year, more than the Oklahoma City Thunder and far more than the Miami Heat, who finished with the 23rd slowest pace in the league (via ESPN).

The main thing that's boring about the Spurs is also what's so impressive about them. Namely, they do everything well. This year, they finished seventh in offensive efficiency and third in defensive efficiency (measured by points per 100 possessions). 

Their ruthless efficiency in virtually all facets of the game make them both formidable and admirable, but the sustained quality is what makes them "boring." They're always good. 

Their sole weakness this year was rebounding. They finished 20th in team rebounding and dead last in offensive rebounds. Then again, they did finished second in effective field-goal percentage (which account for three-pointers), so perhaps there weren't that many offensive boards to grab.

At the end of the day, the casual hatred of the Spurs is bound up in prejudice, ignorance and jealousy. And the Spurs don't care about that at all. You can keep hating them, and they will keep winning 50 games every single season.


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