I’m a San Antonio Spurs fan and I have been for life, even before I knew it. I spent a good deal of my childhood in San Antonio, Texas, both before and after my parents divorced when I was three-years old. I spent every summer there between the ages of 8 and 19, then a year of college, and later three years in my late 20s, with little trips in between. My father’s side of the family has lived in Texas for generations (and generations), so the roots go deep. My dad was a fan and so was my grandfather. It's in the family, in the blood.
My dad and I talk weekly and have for about 25 years. We talk during and after almost every playoff game, too. It started around age 10 when I actually had things to say over the phone, and that’s also around the time the Spurs drafted David Robinson and Sean Elliott, my two favorite players until they drafted Tim Duncan in 1997, when I was in high school. Having a star player on my favorite team with MY last name felt amazing. If I wasn’t hooked before, I was then.
The Spurs won their first championship in 1999, the same weekend I graduated form high school. My dad and I got to watch them win it together and I remember the thrill, the jumping and shouting and happiness, to this day.
The Spurs won championship #2 in 2003. I was married, and it was probably the peak of the marriage, before things took a turn. I was happy, had a great apartment, attended a college I loved, and the ex and I watched many games together. I knew she wasn’t a basketball fan, but she was supportive and got into it that year and I appreciated that. It was a great win and the perfect ending of David Robinson's career.
The third win came in 2005 after we broke up and I really needed a boost, something to root for after a few months of misery, so that championship meant a lot to me.
By 2007, when they won again, I was back in Texas and back on my feet mentally, creatively, professionally. I went to playoff game viewing parties at homes and bars with a huge group of friends. The excitement was electric. The whole city was cheering at once. And I watched the last game mostly at my dad’s house with my father by my side, and the last quarter at the local bar with a close friend. It was incredibly satisfying to be in Texas and watch my team get the win. I felt a part of it somehow. It was a great leg on a long journey as a Spurs fan.
And now it's 2013 and I’m in NYC (where they won it all in 1999). I have a job I enjoy, my writing career is active, I have good friends here, and the Spurs are on the cusp on clinching championship #5, as well as silencing any doubters that they are a true dynasty. They’re up against their greatest finals series challenge yet, but win or lose, I couldn’t be happier to see the team getting so much love and respect across the nation.
(Update: I'm reposting this in 2014 on my new website, and obviously the team lost in 2013. It hurt and it took me a surprisingly long time to get beyond it. But now it feels like ancient history, especially compared to the wins, which still feel like yesterday. Interesting how that works.)
They’re a team built on trust, loyalty, longevity, humbleness, dedication, and class. Coach Popovich doesn’t take whiny bullshit from anyone, from NBA execs to star players to ball boys, and yet his players love him because he’s genuine, forthright, and he cares about their well-being more than anything else. Even if it means a 250K fine...for benching/resting his stars against Miami, a team they are about to face. Irony, or genius? Maybe both. But if you’re dedicated to him, he’ll be doubly dedicated right back. Along with Duncan, he’s their rock, and in my opinion he’s the greatest active coach in all of sports.
Basically, being a Spurs fan feels like being part of an extended family. When you meet another fan in a city aside from San Antonio, you have an instant friend. And when they Spurs are playing and you’re in San Antonio, you are HOME amongst family. It’s a great feeling that has only grown since I was a child.
(Second Update: And as I said above, now it's 2014, a year after I originally posted this, and the Spurs look like they could go deep into the playoffs again. Last year was tough, but I'm excited to be heading into the postseason with my fellow Spurs fans. Win or lose, I can't think of a better sports family to be a part of.)