Every NBA city’s relationship with its team is a little bit different.
Celtics fans wear their green passion on their sleeves (or on the shamrock tattoos they when it’s too warm for sleeves). Lakers fans get poked fun of because of the celebrity culture, but the reality is in a transient town love of the Lakers is one of the few generational bonds for the average Los Angeles resident. Warriors fans feel they are finally being rewarded for years of loyalty through bad ownership (the previous regime).
San Antonio’s love of the Spurs is something unique.
San Antonio isn’t a small town — it’s America’s seventh largest city — but it has the feel of one. And that small town feel meshes perfectly with the Spurs personalities and brand of basketball, something Travis Hale tries to explain in a fantastic long-form piece at NBC’s Sports World.
Translated, “puro” means “pure,” and it is the single-word battle-cry to describe life here. For all our struggles, challenges and pitfalls, life in San Antonio is pure. And, regardless of race, income bracket, or neighborhood, all San Antonians take a measure of pride in our puro. The Spurs have their own identity, their own beautiful brand of basketball. San Antonians have a uniqueness, too, and that fierce independence so alive in both has made the love affair strong. The blue-collar city beautifully pairs with her blue-blooded basketball team….
The Spurs recent accomplishments are well known. Five NBA titles in the last 16 years and a slew of Hall of Fame players have called San Antonio home. But here’s a little-known secret: The Spurs are so much more than banners and shimmering, golden Larry O’Brien trophies on display. Sure, the championship seasons are fodder for the best memories. But more than anything, those banners serve as validation for a city whose inhabitants often feel overlooked in favor of the larger, shinier cities in the state….
Just before midnight, after the Spurs defeated the Heat and won their fifth title and the last of the press conferences had wrapped up, I walked out onto the court. The floor was covered in confetti and people, but it wasn’t fans or VIPs who were celebrating. It was the ushers and vendors and paid staff of the AT&T Center taking pictures and making snow angels in the piles of confetti on the floor. It was employees of Spurs Sports & Entertainment, celebrating an NBA championship on the hardwood of the AT&T Center late into the night. It was all the people that make the machine run, but few ever see. It was the Spurs Family. The nameless, faceless “little people” that make the big things possible.
Go read the entire story. It’s impossible to ever truly define and entire large city in one bit of writing. But this story comes as close to defining the intricate relationship of San Antonio with the Spurs as you are going to see.