Hope you guys enjoy this read as much as I did! My favorite part in bold!
GO SPURS GO!!!!!!!
Why America Hates the Spurs
By Mike Wise
Wednesday, May 21, 2008; E01
"I don't understand -- why don't people like us?" Bruce Bowen asked.
You really want to know?
Because you and the mean ol' San Antonio Spurs ruin happy endings for players and teams whom fans want to see keep playing. Oh, and also because you're too reliable and humble, in a league where mouthy and enigmatic happens.
"Is that it?" the Spurs' veteran forward said. "We're not who people want to see? That's funny, because when Ron Artest was having issues and the league was having image problems, all you heard was, 'Why can't teams be more like the Spurs?'
"The public thinks they want other things -- all the chest-pounding and screaming. But at the end of the day, quietly, parents want their kids to grow up in a way that they work hard, keep their mouth shut and act like you've been there before."
Bowen spoke from his cellphone in New Orleans on Monday night, three hours before his team methodically knocked out the Hornets in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals -- three hours before a player less than a month away from 37 years old, maybe the premier perimeter defender in NBA history, frustrated Chris Paul and some bold kid named Jannero Pargo, who thought he was going to save the day for New Orleans before Bowen got in his grille late and the rickety Spurs sent a bunch of postseason adolescents home for the season.
Palms out, feet shuffling laterally, limbs fluttering like bat wings, Bowen was a microcosm of the franchise the past decade -- that annoying insect impossible to shoo away.
"We're goin' back to Podunk, Texas, again," Charles Barkley bemoaned, shaking his head in mock disgust on TNT after San Antonio held off New Orleans. Summing up most NBA fans' feelings outside south Texas, Barkley added: "Damn. They're like cockroaches. They won't die."
Watching the Spurs reject another marketable NBA plot -- this one featured young Chris Paul and the city he helped raise from Hurricane Katrina's ruin (a big seller at the All-Star Game in February) -- it's becoming clear that Bowen, Tim Duncan and their teammates are this millennium's Larry Holmes.
The Spurs are among the least- loved champions in the history of sport, right alongside Holmes, the former heavyweight great who had the misfortune of following boxing's king of kings, Muhammad Ali.
They've got what Grant Hill once actually called "Larry Holmes syndrome." He used the term to describe the impossible responsibility he, Jerry Stackhouse and other young skywalkers had following in Michael Jordan's footsteps. But it's just as apt for the Spurs, who in 1999 became the first team to win a championship after Jordan and the Incredi-Bulls -- San Antonio's first of four titles the past decade.
Like Holmes, they have learned that coming after the greatest is more burden than blessing.
In succeeding Jordan, the Spurs have not just taken out their share of white hopes (dumping Dirk Nowitzki and Dallas, bloodying and hip-checking Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns out of the playoffs in consecutive years); they're the small-market spoilers, annually crushing a young superstar's dreams.
Before Paul, the Spurs outlasted Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant's dysfunctional dynasty; they swept aside the league's new golden child, LeBron James, in four games last June; and they have played in some of the most ratings-challenged NBA Finals in memory, including a yawner against the Nets in 2003.
If they can send a reinvigorated Bryant and the Lakers packing in the Western Conference finals, they will have successfully removed Shaq and Kobe from the playoffs again while simultaneously ruining the best Finals story line David Stern could imagine:
Lakers-Celtics Redux -- Kobe and the Lake Show vs. Kevin Garnett and Boston, 21 years after Magic's junior sky hook buried Bird.
What is it about the Spurs, always beating the players and teams America wants to see win?
"Part of it is the selling of the sensational," Bowen said. "Like: 'Oh my gosh! Look at that guy pound his chest after he made that basket.' We're not Vegas. We don't have this me-against-the-world attitude. But that's what sells now. So they need to come up with labels for us."
Like, boring and dirty?
"Exactly," Bowen added. "Look at Robert Horry. In San Antonio he's a dirty player. But he wasn't dirty when he played in L.A. Why is that?"
Indeed, Horry was a clutch player for the Lakers who took and made all the pressure shots. But in San Antonio, the player known as Big Shot Rob has suddenly become "Cheap Shot Bob," as Yahoo Sports's Adrian Wojnarowski dubbed Horry after the veteran had the temerity to set a back pick on David West, a Hornets player with a bad back, who went down in Game 6 almost as hard as New Orleans in Game 7.
"Look at my reputation. It's easy to say, 'He's dirty,' " Bowen said. "But what defines dirty? Because I play defense against a guy whose job is to score on me at will? You don't see me going out hitting anyone, but it's amazing when you deal with certain darlings in the league and the perception that they're supposed to score."
Another reason the country turns on San Antonio is because of Duncan's unemotional on-court demeanor. He makes Alan Greenspan look like a hard partyer. Spock on antidepressants is more exciting.
But the real reason is that the Spurs continue to resemble the old geezers who show up at the YMCA each weekend, yell "Next!" and somehow figure out a way to hold the court against a bunch of uppity kids. After three straight blowouts in New Orleans, their season on the brink, the Spurs again made do in Game 7.
They basically made younger, superior athletes with fresher legs play their way, slowing down the game, making every possession count. It was like taking a hyperactive kid off his medication, until he became so antsy and frustrated he didn't know what to do except sulk and go away. They specialize in making supernovas burn out before their time. And like Barkley said, they won't die.
Poor Kobe. He's got next.