Spurs fans deserve a fairwell year
THERE is a natural tendency for fandom to be stronger for teams that have been around for some time.
You see that when old-timers gather in coffee shops or bars and they begin to rehash Crispa-Toyota games or even classic Yco-Ysmael encounters. Discussions can be passionate if not heated especially when each story tends to be embellished every time it is told and there are no available videos to confirm or debunk stories. Like most cultural history in the country, a big chunk of Philippine sports knowledge is found in the hearts and minds of those who have experienced the games and the eras.
You feel that when 40-somethings approach you in a restaurant and claim to be long-time PBA fans: They’re either Purefoods, Alaska, San Miguel or Ginebra loyalists but are conversant on all the other stars who played during the ’80s and ’90s. Many still follow their teams and root for the present-day stars in the roster.
Rain or Shine and Talk ‘N Text have their own legions of fans who are vociferous on social media. Their passion, frustration, anguish and delight are often expressed in 140 characters on Twitter but contain the same ardor of the older hoop fans that talk loudly and wave their hands as they unspool their basketball stories.
That’s why you sense a sentimental tone when NBA fans talk about their long-time favorites. The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers have been around for ages and their fans are from the Bill Russell-Jerry West era, the Larry Bird-Magic Johnson time to the Kobe Bryant stretch. There are those pockets of fandom for the other teams that have not won as many titles as the Lakers and Celtics.
And now you feel this tinge of sadness as the San Antonio Spurs recently got eliminated from the Western Conference finals by the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Spurs have won five NBA crowns, anchored on 19-year veteran Tim Duncan and supported by exciting slasher Manu Ginobili and creative point guard Tony Parker. Fans have learned to love the selfless, crisp ball movement of the Spurs that create multiple openings and fosters trust in teammates.
Add the colorful leadership of coach Gregg Popovich who guards his team’s privacy like a strict schoolteacher looking over a class on a field trip. His curt and cryptic replies in courtside interviews and post-game press conferences have often been brash but have endeared him nonetheless to fans.
So have we seen the last of Duncan, Ginobili and Parker together? Parker was quoted as saying they have a “long summer ahead of them” which will probably be spent contemplating one final run at an NBA championship.
A suggestion should be made: Although the Spurs are not exactly your conventional NBA team that does not like excessive hoopla, a final farewell season is a fitting send-off for Duncan. Ginobili, who is younger than the 40-year-old Duncan by two years, can stay around to play one last swing. The Spurs can be just who they are with simple farewell ceremonies done by each NBA city that Duncan will visit for the last time.
Then, whatever happens to the Spurs in the post-season, Duncan can say adieu, giving the fans what they want and fueling more stories to tell when they meet in coffee shops and bars down the road.