You want to wipe the smiles off their faces, don't you? (photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom)

Why You, Mavericks Fan, Can Feel OK That the Spurs Won

They're irritating, sure.

Probably like most of you — I’m assuming you’re all Mavericks fans — I hated the San Antonio Spurs for so long, I didn’t even remember why anymore. Which is never good. I am a firm (and, to be honest, recent) believer that you should only hate a few things, and hate those few things with as much vigor as you can muster. And part of that philosophy is always remembering why you hate it.

I don’t like the Miami Heat either — for 2006, for clowning on Dirk in 2011, mostly for Dwyane Wade — and so, when the Spurs and Heat squared off in last year’s NBA Finals, my initial hope was for both teams to somehow forfeit. I don’t know — a gambling scandal or something. I didn’t really think it through. But as soon as the series started, I realized pretty quickly that I wanted the Spurs to win. And, also: I didn’t really hate the Spurs, anymore. Also, also: I actually sort of liked them.

The roots of my hatred were simple:
1) The Spurs were the Mavs’ natural rivals and …
2) … unfortunately, they almost always got the better of the Mavs
3) Tim Duncan’s face
4) Bruce Bowen, who I still cannot rationally talk about without wanting to drive to his house and make him take 500 jumpers while I stick my foot under him, hoping he sprains his ankle when he lands
5) They made the game ugly

No. 1 is still true. So is — with some notable, awesome exceptions — No. 2. No. 3? Yep, although now it’s just sort of like an internet meme I’ve lost interest in. But the last two aren’t, and No. 5 is actually quite the opposite now. They make the game beautiful. Perfect, at times.

Basketball is my favorite sport, and the NBA is my favorite version of it. And the Spurs play it — the last two seasons, at least, and probably going back to around 2010 — better than anyone else. When Duncan was in his prime and Bowen was on the wing, doing his best to injure far more talented players, they anchored a stingy defense that was the focal point of the team. They wanted games that ended with a score of 87-79. Their offense amounted to Duncan shooting reliable bankshots from the blocks, with a gang of corner threes, and some change-of-pace craziness from Manu Ginobili. The big complaint about the Spurs has traditionally been that they were boring. They weren’t. They were irritating. It was like giving someone a new Ferrari and then watching them use it to run errands.

But when they couldn’t rely on defense any longer, the Spurs turned into one of the best offensive teams I’ve ever seen. Everyone on the team can pass, and they’re all willing to. No one is quite as good at passing as Larry Bird was, but the Spurs’ skill at moving the ball is reminiscent of the 1986 Boston Celtics. When it works, and it did over the last three games against the Heat, it is amazing to watch.

Also, the Mavs almost beat the Spurs this year, came closer than anyone else in fact, and that is pretty awesome.


  • LDR4

    Dwyane Wade’s existence continues to mock my ability to lead a happy life. His poor play in the Finals, though, warmed my soul a few degrees.

  • Mavdog

    It is hard to “hate” the Spurs, they are a class group of individuals. Pop is as steady as it goes, and he sets the bar on how a coach gets the most out of their team. Duncan will go down as one of the greatest big men ever, consistent at his craft while also remaining incredibly humble. These days they play a beautiful style of ball. I’ve even got to the point of not disliking Ginobilli, who was such a flopper and whiner…but now he shows how a player can stay relevant by choosing their moments. Leonard, Parker, Green..well grounded.

    Contrast these guys to the Miami Heat and there couldn’t be more difference. I’m with you Zac, I will never, ever forget Dwyane Wade’s mocking of an ill Dirk. The league was in error for not suspending Chalmers for his elbow on Parker, such a classless act that went unpunished. Hard to “hate” Lebron, what with his ability to dominate the game. Bosh seems out of place with these guys. Have to say it was enjoyable to see them lose.

    The Mavs-Spurs clashes have been great to witness, although we have a 2-4 record against them in the playoffs all the series but one were very competitive. It is noteworthy the Mavs took the Spurs to a full 7 games this year which no other team accomplished.

    I see that as a positive going into the next season. Our guard corps has shown themsleves to be very, very creative and efficient. Dirk is still able to be a tough matchup for anyone. We have a great coach, a great front office, and with a couple of additions we can compete.

  • Randy McCluer

    Zac, if you haven’t seen their offensive beauty quantified, here ya go.

  • rjd

    Let’s hope one of those additions is not Carmelo Anthony at 24 mil a year for the next four years.

  • Jackson

    The Spurs have a place in my heart because they were originally the Dallas Chaparrals of the old ABA. I first saw Julius Irving, Rick Barry, and others playing against the Chaps. They moved to the Alamo City for the ’73-’74 season and changed their name. When the NBA and ABA merged two years later, the Spurs were one of four teams absorbed into the larger league (along with the three-point shot!), but not the red, white and blue basketball. The NBA wisely said no to that.

  • Mavdog

    Carmelo. what a conundrum….while he is clearly one of the most talented players in the league today, I’d say top 5, he seems to be a bit, umm, selfish.
    Carmelo could be the perfect illustration of the “Anti-Duncan”.
    Does one believe that Carmelo would improve the team and take it to the next level, or would he be the guy who destroys the locker room dynamic of “all for the team”?