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Wednesday (Slowly learning to appreciate the Spurs) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Wolves news Updated: June 11, 2014 - 8:36 AM

The Timberwolves played the Spurs in the first round of the 1999 Western Conference playoffs. That was the (first) labor-shortened regular season, with just 50 games on the docket. The Wolves, betrayed by Stephon Marbury, had acquiesced and traded the dynamic point guard for the efficiency of Terrell Brandon. They were 12-6 at the time of the trade. They limped into the playoffs at 25-25, stole Game 2 in San Antonio and brought the series back to Minnesota tied 1-1 and into a frenzied Target Center.

OK, maybe it wasn't frenzied. Maybe we were just frenzied. We were 22, we were still mad about the Marbury trade, and we were ALREADY tired of this boring, choke-the-life-out-of-you Tim Duncan-led Spurs team. We were sitting in the upper deck, the cheap seats, for Game 3. We don't remember the exact play, but something happened with Malik Rose, a Spurs reserve. Might have been a cheap shot. Might have been a basket. But the game was slipping away, and these stupid boring Spurs needed to be stopped. We stood up and yelled, at the top of our lungs, the worst swear, directed at Malik Rose. [Redacted] you. Yes, you. It was very loud. About three seconds later, sheepishly, we sat down, and tried to blame it on our friend Rocket whenever an upset fan/parent looked our way. Whatever. Those Spurs needed to be stopped, and if the Wolves weren't going to do it, we were. As it turns out, nobody stopped them. That was the first of their four championship seasons.


That was 15 years ago. FIFTEEN. For most of those next 15 years, we continued to quietly seethe at the Spurs as they piled up win after win. They were still boring, and they still needed to be stopped. We took glee when they struggled, even writing one year about their alleged demise. We can't find the article or post in the archives, but it's just as well. It was years ago, and the words surely look ridiculous now as their demise was greatly exaggerated. They have won at least 50 games every year since we shouted at M. Rose. They are doing just fine, and they never change.


From the collusion that brought the Big Three together and helped LeBron win a pair of shortcut championships to the casual arrogance of a less-than-engaged fan base, the Heat as currently constructed have given us fits from the moment they were assembled. But if we watched last year's Finals casually with an "anyone but Miami" rooting interest, it has turned instead now to the most curious thing: a love affair with the Spurs and the way they play basketball.

The Spurs have not changed. If there is a greater example of an unflinching, successful operation in pro sports in the same time frame, we cannot think of it. We're still about six months apart in age from Duncan, and the guy is still in this league, still doing what he does. His cast of characters changes, but it stays the same, too. It's really quite breathtaking.


We have changed. We are the person David Roth wrote about a couple weeks back:

There's something strange in realizing that the Spurs are not just great, but quietly great fun to watch as well. It's something like finding out that you suddenly like Steely Dan after years of not only not liking Steely Dan, but defining yourself as the sort of person who does not like Steely Dan and in fact does not even like other people that like Steely Dan. ... The Spurs have not changed, and that is the essence of what makes and keeps them great. They have found a way to do things that work well and maintained the humility to work that way for a shared end. For all the reasons we might watch a game, this more modest transcendence -- individuals into a whole, faith in a process made legible and even beautiful -- is not nearly the most vivid. We aspire to uncommon grace and force and poise, we aspire to flight..

This works on so many levels, except that we've always liked Steely Dan's melodic pop hooks.

But this thought: Oh no, are we old? Are we reelin’ in the years, stowin’ away the time? Older, sure, but that's not quite it.


Then it hit us: it's fatherhood. That's the biggest thing that has changed, and that's the biggest thing that can change. We're only 10 weeks into it, but there is something about trying to clean up pee, poop and spit-up at the same time that will make you appreciate San Antonio's relentless teamwork. There is something about the notion of family that will make you appreciate the Spurs' unflinching consistency. And there is something about 10 tiny fingers and toes that will make you appreciate the beauty of the smallest details.

The same person who disliked the boring Spurs for so long and would swear at Malik Rose is now rooting for them to win instead of rooting for Miami to lose.

Then again, when are we ever the same person?


NY Yankees - LP: B. McCarthy 3 FINAL
Toronto - WP: J. Happ 4
Philadelphia - LP: A. Burnett 5 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 6
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Hughes 2
Minnesota - LP: R. Nolasco 8 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: W. Chen 12
Boston - WP: C. Buchholz 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: A. Cobb 0
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 6
Texas - LP: N. Cotts 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: J. Veras 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: C. Villanueva 6 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: P. Neshek 9
Oakland - LP: S. Kazmir 1 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: M. Shoemaker 8
Milwaukee - LP: K. Lohse 5 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 15
Los Angeles - WP: H. Ryu 7 FINAL
San Diego - LP: E. Stults 1
Washington - LP: T. Roark 3 FINAL
Seattle - WP: H. Iwakuma 5
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Arizona - WP: C. Anderson 6
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 0 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: A. Wood 1
Cleveland 4 Suspended
Kansas City 2
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Red Bull New York 0 FINAL
D.C. 2
Los Angeles 3 FINAL
Chivas USA 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12:00 PM
Edmonton 3:30 PM
Phoenix 77 FINAL
Minnesota 82
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