April 27, 2011: Tim Duncan, left, and Tony Parker watch the Memphis Grizzlies bite them in San Antonio. The first round bug bit the Spurs again.
I didn’t get the memo about the AT&T Center in San Antonio turning into the Staples Center in Los Angeles for one afternoon. Did you? No?
Then you were as shocked as I and the national media to see and hear so many Lakers fans, chants, T-shirts and jerseys there in March during the game against L.A. The game sent the Spurs on an irreversible slide into Funk City.
Not to be confused with Funky Town, since the “March Massacre”—the Lakers blowout and dismantling of the Spurs on March 6 in a nationally televised Sunday afternoon game in San Antonio—the Spurs were seemingly dead on their NBA heels.
The unhealing wound of the final score—99-83—wasn’t indicative of the beat down from the mighty Lakers. Not to be confused with the Memorial Day Miracle, if it was wrestling, then the Lakers were Stevo Poulin and the Spurs were just pulling for the game to hurry up and be done.
It was eerily similar to the beat down Memphis handed them in Game 4. The Beale Street Bullies, or the Beale Street Bears—whichever you like best—the Grizzlies ate the Spurs’ dinner in the first round of the playoffs.
Poulin is an 8-year-old wonder kid wrestler in America, and he probably could have pinned all of the Spurs in the first round and in the quarter on March 6. Accused of quitting by at least two Lakers—via the national media— in the game’s messy aftermath, the Spurs starters were punked—so to speak.
On his radio show the Monday after the game, Dan Patrick quoted Ron Artest as saying the Spurs starters quit. Andrew Bynum was also quoted in the L.A. Times as saying the Spurs starters outright gave up against the Lakers.
Similar to what the Lakers did to Dallas in their last meeting, the Lakers apparently did to the Spurs—punked them. I have yet to hear of a valid retort from the Spurs organization over the allegations hurled at them by Artest and Bynum.
San Antonio shouldn’t feel bad, though, the Lakers have been punking half the league this year. They’ve definitely served notice that taking their titles this year could involve getting past their Mike Tyson tendencies.
I think they’re mean enough and crazy enough to bite a slashing scorer’s ear off. They should be called the L.A. Tysons—in the views of some opponents, maybe. Anyway, it’s working. They’re becoming the NBA version of Tyson versus Frank Bruno—a supposed British bulldog in the ring.
The Spurs—even with four NBA championship rings—are known more for playing like dogs than for being them—male dogs that is. Don’t mean to go Brandon “Boo” Phillips on you, but the Spurs aren’t exactly the toughest team in the league.
That reputation goes back years—being especially prevalent in the David Robinson era.
Artest was flexing his muscles as Robinsons watched from afar, while the Lakers were building a 29-point lead at the half in San Antonio. That’s icing on the knees for the fourth quarter time—made famous by Michael Jordan—in the NBA.
Look, I’m not saying the Lakers actually punked the Spurs, but the Lakers actually punked the Spurs in the Massacre game. The Spurs were not remembering the Alamo.
I’m saying it’s possible L.A. took some of their hearts like Jordan did to so many of his opponents. If you look at it—at 45-19 after the March 6 game, Los Angeles was seven games on the loss side behind the 51-12 Spurs.
Then the Lakers and Kobe “Black Mamba” Bryant started spitting hot venom and breathing down the Spurs’ backs. L.A. came to within one game in the loss column behind San Antonio, and they were to play one more time in the regular season.
If L.A. had won out, they could’ve end up with the No. 1 seed. The Bulls ended up beating the Spurs out, instead, as the Lakers cruised to the finish line like they were lounging on a boat during a spontaneous race on the river on a Sunday evening.
As of the afternoon leading to the evening of March 6, the Spurs started to become a source of embarrassment to many of their fans. They’ve been very disappointing to city before, but losing the top spot in the NBA could burn in the oily vat of disappointment for years.
Listening to talking heads ranging from Jim Rome to Jeff Van Gundy after the Massacre, the Lakers were the team to beat—clearly. This line of thought could have ended up being the best thing that happened to the Spurs this season. It ended up being the worst.
San Antonio’s fans started to lose confidence in the team, and Spurs did as well. Duncan’s head hung lower after each poor performance, pondering his past and future.
They’d beaten the Lakers on a last second tip in L.A. and celebrated like they’d won the NBA championship. That was way back in the regular season, when the Spurs held a 2-0 season series lead over Los Angeles.
The Lakers were left for dead. Now the Spurs know how it feels. How did they respond? I thought they’d wilt for the rest of the way, though they could give a strong resistance in the Western Conference Finals. They wilted for sure, but they're not in the conference finals.
I thought the Lakers could continue to roll and take the Spurs out of the No. 1 seed. If the Lakers didn’t get the No. 1 seed, then I believed it truly wouldn’t matter to them where they played in the playoffs, or which team had home court advantage.
The Spurs needed the top spot for their psyche’s sake and the energy from the home crowd. When they lost to the Lakers, they started to lose the seeding. It’s true boys and girls, the “March Massacre” sent the Spurs into a funk going down the stretch.
Now they’re truly dead and funky. Remember the March Massacre. Lakers fans will.