Going into Sunday’s early morning affair between the Phoenix Suns andSan Antonio Spurs , I wasn’t quite sure how to feel, partially because I was watching NBA basketball at 11 AM and partially because of the match up. Like a Biggest Loser contestant who finds himself at a Vegas buffet, I was torn between primal instinct, hating all things SA, and conventional wisdom, things between the teams just aren’t the same.
Since the last playoff battle between these two teams, the coaches in Phoenix have changed, many of the players on both rosters have come and gone and the championship window for both clubs has all but been sealed shut.
Things are certainly different, but two minutes into the game I realized that, like that guy from your high school who became a drag queen, no matter how much has changed on the surface, underneath it all, things remain the same.
I still hate anything in the color scheme of silver and black, nose bleeds, cheap shots, anyone named Robert (sorry Dad), and the San Antonio Spurs .
I thought the fact that the “usual suspects,” Robert Horry and Bruce Bowen, no longer played in the league would soften my anti-Spurs stance. Like Southwest Airlines kicking Kevin Smith off a flight for being too fat, I was dead wrong.
The second the silver and black took the court, the old feeling was back. Spite, anger, and disgust filled the Sports Retorter’s heart.
Did the fact that Mike D’Antoni and his “Pringles guy ” mustache have packed up and taken their act to the bright lights (and lame basketball) of NYC change anything? Not at all.
Did Horry and Bowen’s decision to trade in their cheap shots for television gigs, bow ties and hair salons lessen the pain of the past? Not a chance.
Did my decision to eat brunch rather than lunch effect my view of things? No, but it was, culinary speaking, a fantastic idea.
Time, fresh faces, new coaches and climate change doesn’t make any difference when it comes to the pain that the silver and black has inflicted on the fans of Phoenix.
Sunday’s game clarified something for me as a Suns fan, like with the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls, I don’t hate the Spurs because of the players, coaches or ownership. No, I hate the logo, color, and team as an entity for the moments they’ve forever ingrained in my brain that replay anytime their name is uttered.
Duncan’s crazy three pointer to send it to overtime, Nash bloody nose, Bowen kneeing Amare in the gonads, Robert Horry reminding Steve Nash of his Canadian heritage by hip checking him into the scorers’ table and even Roger Mason’s three-point buzzer beater on Christmas Day 2008 are all my mind’s own personal version of a Kevin Costner film (post Bull Durham and Field of Dreams of course).
No matter how many times I see them, they’re still painful.
Is my hatred petty, immature and borderline irrational? Of course it is. I mean, I’m the same guy who still cringes anytime I hear any combination of Marv Albert’s voice, reference to the year 1993, mention of Chicago or the utterance of the name Paxson (John, Jim or otherwise) makes me physically ill.
Hell, I can’t even watch anything starring actor Bill Paxton—and it’s not even spelled the same way!
Even though I probably shouldn’t feel it, it is my right as a sports fan to harbor angst, hatred and ill will toward any franchise or grouping of fans that keep my team from a championship. On a side not, it’s a good thing I’m not a Clippers fans because I’d be the biggest hate monger on the planet.
It doesn’t matter how much time passes, the Spurs have done too much damage for the hatred to ever diminish.
Even in Sunday’s loss, a game in which the Suns choked away through poor execution, I found myself blaming the Spurs.
I mean really the Suns lost because of Jason Richardson , a former slam dunk champ missing an uncontested jam and Steve Nash , a two-time MVP, turning down a last second game tying three—both things were as unesettling as finding out that Maya Angelou wrote Charles Barkley’s $5 box poem for the Taco Bell commercial—and yet somehow it left me hating the Spurs.
Don’t get me wrong, the Suns and Spurs aren’t rivals. A rivalry would require the Suns to have defeated the Spurs on their way to accomplishing a bigger goal. No, the Suns fans, myself included, get up for games against the Spurs because of the pain Tim Duncan and friends have caused over the years while fans in San Antonio look at it as just another game.
It’s the same way that Bulls fans looked at the Pistons in the 1980’s and Cavs fans viewed Jordan and the Bulls in the early 1990s.
Just like the Spurs won’t view the Suns as rivals until Phoenix defeats them on their way to a title, fans feelings towards the Spurs won’t change until the Suns win a ring.
Call Suns fans’ disdain for the Spurs petty, childish, stupid or whatever you want, I’ll just call it the norm anytime I see silver and black on a basketball court.