Come tomorrow, we could be living in a world where the malevolent San Antonio Spurs are NOT the best team in professional basketball. It's a frighteningly hopeful notion, though, seeing Gregg Popovich's "bore the shit out of you" style of hoops beaten at home by a group of young upstarts led by Should-Have-Been-MVP Chris Paul.
Of course, the San Antonio fans are taking everything in stride, already asking themselves if the referees should be blamed should the Spurs ultimately lose the series. Considering the Spurs have been The League of Extraordinary Whiners the last seven years, I think it'd be only proper if their undoing were to come in the form of a few calls going the other way. However, the Hornets have not gotten away with anywhere near as much as the Spurs have in these playoffs.
As a Hornets fan, I'm playing with the house money, just like I did in 2006 with the Saints. Sure, the Saints were a better team than the Chicago Bears, but the disappointment in that loss did not sting for long. The Saints were supposed to be just slightly better than terrible that year, only to make it to the NFC Championship Game. The Hornets were thought to be among the Western Conference teams missing out on that eight seed and a sure ass-kicking in round one.
But the Hornets (and Chris Paul) became bonafide contenders this year when all common sense would have led you to think otherwise. This was supposed to be another ho-hum season resulting in yet another anti-climactic Spurs vs. whoever showdown in which the grinders and floppers ultimately prevailed yet again, leaving anybody who's ever cared for entertaining basketball to grit their teeth, shake their fists, and hope that the next year would be different.
This IS that next year. If the Hornets do eliminate the Spurs either tonight or on Monday, the chances of having an entertaining NBA Finals match-up goes up dramatically.
The Spurs make for the perfect foil in the playoffs: they're championship caliber, but they play a maddening style of slow-paced basketball, only choosing to run when the mood suits them. The coach is a blowhard, a number of their players flop around like world class soccer prima donnas, raising their arms with a "what did I do?" sense of entitlement every time a foul is called against them, their big defensive cog is known across the league as a dirty player with enough YouTube videos showing him kneeing guys in the balls to shake a stick at. So yeah, you could say I hate the San Antonio Spurs.
And you'd think that'd be fine list of reasons not to like the Spurs, right? Well, I've got another reason. The Spurs just happened to be the favorite team of an ex-girlfriend, and Tim Duncan also happens to be her favorite player. Now, you could argue that's just nonsense on my part to hate the Spurs (and Mr. Duncan) for that. I mean, I broke up with this crazy girl nearly five years ago, why hold a grudge?
The way I look at it, that's one of the joys of being a sports fan: you can believe a whole lot of things that have little or no merit whatsoever.