Spurs Ready to Dominate the Warriors
Last April, with four of their top eight players injured, having just lost to the Mavericks in an embarrassing blowout and then come back to win a double-overtime game in L.A. against the Clippers the night before, the Spurs came to Oakland to play the Warriors. A certain group of Spurs fans made the trip to Oakland Coliseum to support their Spurs – even though with the Spurs exhausted from the night before, with Tim and Manu out, and with the Warriors on an 8-game winning streak, we expected them to get their asses handed to them.
Our support was rewarded with an incredible game and an historic victory for the Spurs: they became the first team in NBA history to win two multi-overtime games on consecutive nights.
The passion of the crowd was unbelievable – every time the Warriors would make an exciting play, the entire lower level would rise to their feet and literally jump up and down with their arms raised high above their heads. Amazingly, they sustained their enthusiasm from the opening tip to the final buzzer of the second overtime. The arena was about 90% full – not bad for a 31-45 team – and almost all of the crowd was made up of middle class to lower middle class folks.
There were a few Spurs’ faithful sitting in our section, and the Warriors’ fans didn’t take it easy on us.
“Who the heck is number 34? You see, that’s why you guys ain’t winning it this year – I can’t recognize half your team.”
“Tony Massenburg is number 34.”
“Tony Mas-SEN-burg? Oh, I’ve heard of him – he’s a scrub.”
When Brent Barry went to the free throw line early in the fourth quarter someone shouted, “You’ll never be your father!” That was referring, of course, to Warrior great Rick Barry.
When a Spurs fan wearing a Tony Parker jersey five rows in front of us stood up and cheered a Parker basket a little excessively in the third quarter, all hell broke loose. Soon, a chant of “Parker Sucks!” resonated throughout the entire section. And as the duel between the Warriors’ Baron Davis and Parker escalated in the fourth quarter and into the overtime sessions, the chant escalated with it.
It wasn’t until Parker hit his game-winning layup in the second overtime when the chanting finally stopped. As we made our way to the exits, I spotted the fan with the Parker jersey.
“So Parker sucks, huh?” I said. He turned towards me, noticed I was wearing a Spurs beanie, and gave me a high five.
As we left the arena, I realized that this is the feeling I had been looking for when I made plans to go see MSG six months before. After all was said and done, I learned that the arena doesn’t make the atmosphere – the fans do. Now granted, Warrior fans have a lot more to be excited about than do Knick fans these days. However, I have been to many sporting events in my life – including playoff games – and this was by far the best experience of them all.
We all know what that Spurs team went on to accomplish – even with Tony Massenburg on the bench.
Tonight, history repeats itself. The Spurs come to Oakland in the middle of a long road trip, with the Pistons dominating the league and the Mavericks challenging them for homecourt advantage in the West. Once again, they will be looking to make a statement about their readiness to fight for the title. And once again, a certain Spurs fan will be there to witness it, wearing his Tony Parker jersey, and cheering each basket excessively along with his fanatical crew.
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