Season 51, Game 60
San Antonio 119, Denver 122
35-25, 3rd in the West

Something is rotten in San Antonio.

In all my years cheering for this team, I’ve never seen a situation quite like this. I’m sure everybody reading this has the same experience.

What in the heck is going on with Kawhi Leonard?

Speculation abounds; and not far behind speculation is accusation. Knowing so little, I’m loathe to do either. What we do know is that Kawhi’s injury is unlike anything we’ve seen before, and we know very little about its genesis or long-term prognosis; he is medically cleared to play; he doesn’t feel ready to play.

Everything after that is not publicly known. Pop gave a press conference last week saying he wouldn’t be surprised is Kawhi doesn’t come back. But that seemed aimed directly for Kawhi’s ears, not ours. Kawhi’s camp–when it does speak–denies any friction between the player and the organization, while new stories comes out every other day refuting that claim.

Kawhi has given no public statement in over a month. The Spurs organization seems unusually leaky, given their reputation for Cold War-era spy obfuscation.

And every day, Spurs fans freak out more and more.

Seriously, we’re not built for this. We are spoiled. We’ve had nearly 30 years of unparalleled success on and off the court.

I feel helpless as a fan. I want badly for Kawhi to come back and everything to be OK. But it certainly doesn’t seem like that will happen.

This has spilled over to my perception of the on-court product. The team is playing poorly, and it’s hard not to correlate the two. (Logically, I know it’s unlikely one affects the other so strongly, but emotionally it’s hard to deny.) Take away Kawhi, and the team is a star (LaMarcus Aldridge, who is a star but not a superstar) with a good but not great supporting cast of players too late in their career or too early in it.

Throw in the Kawhi drama, and it looks even worse.

The Spurs are 1-4 on the Rodeo Road Trip, easily the worst mark on the iconic annual trip. They have one game left against a rejuvenated Cleveland team, with a real chance to go 1-5 on the trip. They’ve lost 4 games in a row, and 6 of their last 7.

Continuing the 50-win streak is almost an impossibility at this point given how poor they’ve been playing and the difficulty of their remaining schedule (the hardest in the league). Beyond that, it’s a very real possibility that the team could finish in the bottom half of the West playoffs. Or, perhaps even out of the playoffs, a scenario completely unimaginable to the team and fans alike.

The team is able to remain competitive in most games, but is lacking that crispness and execution to finish most of them off. There is no rhythm, no cohesion, no collective will.

It is hard to watch, and even harder to enjoy.

Even more difficult, the drama unfolding off the court has most of our attention, as every day we wait for some break in the Kawhi story, some sign or tell that all is right in our sequestered and spoiled corner of sports fandom.

I don’t know when that sign will come, and if it does, that it can save this season.

Something is rotten in San Antonio.

The Spurs finish off the Rodeo Road Trip in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon.

Go Spurs Go.