Monday, June 17, 2013

The Spurs are the only sports show in San Antonio, but since 1999, that's been a good thing

As a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., I can't imagine only having one team to follow. I do understand there are some cities like Pittsburgh, where a particular franchise and sport is bigger than the others. The Steelers have been the biggest deal in town since about the mid-70's. And unless there is some severe damage done to the NFL's popularity in the coming years, the Black and Gold will probably continue to be the biggest deal, regardless of the growing popularity of the Penguins and any future success of the Pirates.

In Boston, no matter how successful the Patriots, Bruins or Celtics are, the Red Sox will always be the biggest deal in that area.

But at least fans in those cities have options. In fact, not only are there options in a town like Pittsburgh, there are actually rivalries between the fans of the three major sports teams. For example, I know a lot of Steelers fans who hate the Penguins. I know a lot of Penguins fans who are jealous of the Steelers success and wish nothing but failure on them whenever possible. I also know a lot of Steelers AND Penguins fans who mock the Pirates (and their two decade-long battle with ineptitude) any chance they have.

The only problem with that kind of stuff is what happens when your favorite team lays an egg right out of the gate? How do you compensate? What do you do with your team/civic pride energy?

I wonder what it's like in places like Salt Lake City, Jacksonville and San Antonio, where there isn't the option of sports team rivalries because they only have one sport and one team to carry the beacon of civic pride?

Speaking of San Antonio (population: 1.36 million as of 2011), Spurs basketball has been the only sports show in town since 1973. If you were a City of San Antonio AND sports fan living in that area in the 70's, 80's and most of the 90's, life probably bit it a little, as the Spurs never won a World Championship or even a conference crown.

However, that all changed in the late 90's, when Tim Duncan arrived on the scene. Since 1999, the Spurs have won four championships and are in line for a fifth after their victory over the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Sunday night. The win gives San Antonio a 3-2 lead in the series, and the Spurs can clinch a fifth championship as early as Tuesday night in Miami.

I've always rooted for the Spurs because, as I already alluded to, I can't imagine life in Pittsburgh with just one team to root for. Regardless of what happens in the remainder of these NBA Finals, I hope the run can continue for at least a few more years. San Antonio is a pretty old team--Duncan is 37, Manu Ginobil is 35 and Tony Parker is 31--and like most teams who are successful over a period of  time, once age takes its toll on the Spurs stars, the championship success will probably turn into a period of mediocrity.

When that happens, Spurs AND San Antonio sports fans will only have memories to cling to while the front office tries to rebuild and recreate the magic of the last 14 seasons (and counting).

Regardless, though, one-sport cities normally can't boast of four (and maybe five) championships over a 15 year period.

Kudos to Spurs AND City of San Antonio fans.

You deserve the success.

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