I know: why do the Western Conference Playoffs always have to be about me? Well, because Gerard’s out doing boss-type thangs, while I’m at home watching the NBA Playoffs and searching for ways to explain to my girlfriend why I say such terrible things about the Spurs.
“Didn’t Gregg Popovich used to coach at your alma mater?” she asked. “And wouldn’t it be impossible for him to eat your farts anyway?” The answer to the first part, inexplicably, is yes. The second part doesn’t matter, it’s the thought that counts. The Spurs efficiently, crushingly, suffocatingly, inexorably finished off the Suns tonight, 114-106. The specifics of the game can be seen on the other side of that link: a brilliant performance from Duncan (24 points, 12 rebounds, a staggering career-best 9 blocks), impressive steps-up from Tony Parker (30 points) and Manu Ginobili (above, 33 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals, an oppressive omnipresence in every play that broke the Spurs’ way).
The Spurs spent some of the second half blowing out the Suns, a smaller portion of it blowing that lead — thanks in large part to an impressive showing by a pace-pushing Steve Nash, who scored 15 of his 18 points in the second six minutes of the fourth quarter — and most of the game just doing what they do. Which, I think I can now say, is playing hatefully efficient (if flop-intensive), undeniably effective, 100% soul-free, me-angering, fart-eating basketball. The Spurs’ brand of basketball is about as alluring as a Steve Phillips Bad Touch Example, and as fun to watch as…well, I hate to recycle the same reference, but as fun to watch as a commercial break-ridden airing of “Gymkata” on the USA Network. If I was ambivalent about my newfound fondness for the Utah Jazz, this pretty much seals it: I’m ready to get a Jeff Hornacek haircut and get my “U-T-A-H Utah Utah Utah” chant on in my living room. Because holy crap, I do not like these Spurs.
I can’t imagine how anyone could root for the Spurs. It would be like cheering for cancer. Of course, they’re really effective (unfortunately, so is cancer), but I don’t know if a roster of such easily disliked basketball players has ever been assembled. Tim Duncan might be one of the greatest players of all time, but the constant bug-eyed complaints and the mumps-cheeks make him borderline unwatchable. Manu Ginobili was one of my favorites when he played in Italy. Here, he seems determined to bring a soccer-style sissification of basketball”along with a strong belief in the power of the bald spot”to our shores. Tony Parker looks like Gargamel. And everybody knows that Gargamel is evil. Bruce Bowen’s dirty play is well-documented; his resemblance to Mr. Potato Head isn’t. Oberto plays like a dump truck, Elson couldn’t get off the bench when I played in Spain four years ago, and Robert Horry”while a hell of a good guy”seems to consistently play on my least favorite teams and then help those teams win in dramatic fashion.
And Ben, from an email. You will not get a more ambitious or broad-ranging critique of these Spurs, at least until they beat the Jazz in the next series. In which case I am going to get positively Zizekian on you. Anyway, Ben?
Its not that the games are boring–clearly they’re not what with all the late game comebacks–its that they’re joyless. They just sort of methodically squeeze the life out of you (and the dirty stuff is part of that–I noticed that Bowen either stuck his leg out or just totally put his arms around somebody’s waist on every pick set against him, fuck that guy) until suddenly your shots aren’t falling and you can’t quite get to their three-point shooters. Its just really depressing and inhuman-seeming and sort of reminds me of what the capitalist state does to poor people and anybody with a little vision and passion. To make the comparison even more direct, they’ve embodied the capitalist view of competition. not a beautiful struggle that enriches both competitors, but a crass tautology: winning justifies itself. And I know that pro sports does that anyway…but the Spurs strip it bare, nullify that sense of possibility generated by teams like the Suns or the Warriors or the Finnish national hockey team, that sense that possibly beautiful things are worth doing for their own sake. Fuck.
Anyway, Popp, see you at the reunion, dickhole. And that’s all the unbiased commentary I can come up with right now.