Champions at Heart

Heartbreaking day…

Today, experience was overcome by youth… Age fell to athleticism…

The Spurs fell after a valiant effort to a younger Heat team…

They fell fighting to the very end…with a lot of pride and a lot of fight. They pushed youth and talent to their limits and even almost snatched a victory, had it not been for late game defense lapses.

I feel for Tim And Manu. At the twilight of their careers, they deserve a better send-off. These are good guys, on and off the court. Especially Tim, who has been the franchise’s cornerstone, someone who elected to be loyal to the team, even to the point of taking less money, so that his small market team can afford to rebuild. He never sought the limelight, though he was always a real star at heart, playing consistent top level games day in and day out for the past 16years. He had the chance to leave for bigger money in 2000, yet he elected to stay, while the Spurs attempted to rebuild around him, not through buying free agents, but through painstaking player development and good scouting of potential draft picks.

For all these, and for his efforts in the NBA Finals, especially in the final 2 games where he led the team in scoring and rebounds, a championship would have been a fitting final stamp to his Hall of Fame career.

I’ve always been a loyal Spurs fan, from the time Duncan was drafted in 1997, actually even from the time of David Robinson. I admire their classiness, the way they play beautiful fundamental basketball, their consistency, the way the organization and the players are loyal to each other, their demeanor during games, where there isn’t much hype, chest pumping, courtside strutting, trash-talking, or arrogant behavior, and their commitment to real community service. They win the hard way, with the belief that winning is not supposed to be easy, hence they treat each opponent with utmost respect. They never swing elbows. They don’t complain about team mates or salaries. They don’t get coaches fired. They model humility and grace. As Max Lucado would say, “They were classy, not sassy.”

Because of these attributes, most people find them boring.

We think otherwise.

For the past 4 Championships, we, the Spurs fans have celebrated because of these things our team has stood for, all these years. The Spurs winning made us feel that one does not have to be “big” to win. One doesn’t have to be arrogant or demanding to be able to take the big stage. The Spurs showed that players don’t have to be cheap or dirty to be effective. All through the Tim Duncan years, they have followed David Robinson, who, “never felt a need to bring attention to himself, to shimmy after a good play or point to the crowd, as if to say, “Look at me. Aren’t I something special?“” For all those years, “goodness” won. Decency and humility won.
Everybody won.

The Spurs may have lost today. But i believe, they have won everyone’s respect. From their opponents, to their haters to the loyal fans. For me, devastating day as it is, that is somewhat a consolation.

As my pal and fellow long-time Spurs fan, Dan Hernandez said, we have loved the Spurs since Ginobili still had long hair, and past that. And we will always do. Win or lose, we believe in them. We will continue to watch them play, and stay on, even when they are on the losing end.

They may not have been crowned as champions today. But for an ever-loyal fan like me, they are, and will always be.

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