an excerpt from “Enjoying the Spurs: A Spurs Fan Manifesto,” Grantland, June 11, 2013, by Carles
Many beautiful pieces are written about the Spurs every year, usually because they are one of the final four teams left. Our front office is praised for its managerial prowess. Our assistants and front-office staff are lured to rebuild other franchises with our model. Role players “finally found their place” on our team. Our team’s internationality is praised. The players that we draft eventually “make the leap.” The mere fact that the Spurs are so old but remain so successful is eventually celebrated every year. But all of this happens within the context of a media cycle. Spurs fans then get angry when they witness their team marginalized into the same rubbish we consume every day.
The Spurs don’t get any respect, and when they do, it still isn’t good enough.
It gets easier when you accept that a media cycle is a lifeless charade where something topical is presented for people who otherwise wouldn’t care. The media’s job is to create content for a large quantity of people who won’t actually care in about 15 minutes. The media cycle presents a topic in digestible form, processed in loud and predictable ways. It’s immediately immersive, but attaining the status of the Lakers, Tim Tebow, or LeBron isn’t rewarding. The drive for the Spurs’ fifth championship is so important to Spurs fans because we finally learned not to obsess over the context in which we consume the NBA. We’ve reached a point where it is just about embracing a special opportunity for a group of people who have meant a lot to us for a long time.
Sports franchises market their team to a city to sell tickets, drive up television contracts, and exploit other monetary streams by marginalizing their team into a product. However, the most interesting fan bases transcend the power of marketing, establishing their team within a city or region’s cultural identity. When it comes to national perception of a professional sports franchise, a team’s identity usually comes down to a culture of winning or losing. Some teams allegedly embody their city’s working-class identity, while other markets transform their players into celebrities. Some teams are the Grizzlies, some teams are the Lakers. Some teams are defined by one moment, while other teams are eternally dominant. The Spurs’ fan base has been defined by resentment for their team’s lack of acknowledgment by the media.