It’s funny how everyone says the Spurs don’t produce TV ratings.
No monster Super Bowl caliber ones, allegedly.
Yet it’s just as funny that during May, one of four months on the calendar the TV world calls “Sweeps Month”, the Spurs are sweeping up a storm on the national stage. Back to back playoff sweeps will do that.
So this is in homage to all those local affiliate attention-seeking stories from Sweeps Months gone by. The ones that chronicled everything from chasing the mythical chupacabra to the plight of midget strippers in the name of jump starting station ratings.
San Antonio finally has an answer to all the critics who have branded the Silver and Black with the “BORING” tag: All the Spurs do is win. Which just happened to be the headline banner on ESPN.com Monday.
More importantly: SA has been winning by showcasing the most aesthetically pleasing brand of hoops in all the NBA.
Sorry Heat, hype falls into the “Words are Small and Game is BIG” league promo spotlighting the Spurs.
Word out of LA says Lamar Kardashian’s production company put a call in to Kobe and the Lakers. After all, some drama can’t be scripted. Getting dumped by a younger, hungrier Oklahoma City team while being made to look like the younger, inept team during crunch time will do wonders for ratings amongst the “Train Wreck Seeking” demographic.
The Spurs can rack up a team best 18-game winning streak. They can dispatch of the Jazz and Clippers while barely breaking a sweat. Methodical. Even “Surgical”, which is what TNT’s Kenny Smith called SA during the Clippers sweep. You know, boring stuff.
They can score more and defend better and close out a series emphatically, yet still be treated like Fredo Corleone.
As in, when it comes time to pass out national love and attention, the Spurs get passed over.
So naturally the national media feeding frenzy caravan frets whether Miami survives the Pacers series, and sweats over who is leaving and who is staying with the Lakers. Important stuff.
At the same time, the Spurs and Thunder get set to host the “Battle of the Riverwalks” for the all the Western Conference marbles. From every angle, SA vs. OKC will produce more than a few OMGs along the way.
The only people gnashing their teeth at the epic matchup: TNT executives and Charles Barkley, who were envisioning a Lakers/Clippers conference finals that would have kept the cable crew planted in LA for two weeks.
Instead, TNT commutes between SA and OKC, with both locales offering Riverwalks to disparage on one side of Sir Charles’ mouth while Barkley enjoys on the other.
Yet, the only ones who care what the national media says are the citizens of Spurs Nation. Gregg Popovich and the Spurs don’t want to talk about win streaks, sweeps or any perceived lack of respect. They don’t seek it, don’t desire it, and don’t live for national love.
Or said another way: All they want are wins. Eight more to be exact.
So shake that chip off your shoulder, Spurs fan. It’s fruitless to scream and yell for more national attention when you’re dealing with Sports Karma. With everything going so well and falling into place for SA, why wish for the brighter spotlight?
It’s also hard to argue that the Spurs are the NBA-version of Rodney Dangerfield. Most places would consider a Sports Illustrated cover story calling Tim Duncan “one of the greatest players of his generation” a truckload of respect.
So when longtime NY Times sports writer William C. Rhoden spouted that dreaded B-word on the Spurs during this week’s edition of Sports Reporters on ESPN, let it go. This was Rhoden’s stance on the Spurs:
“Do they excite me? No. If you had me on a desert island and you’d tell me you make me watch them, I’d said, ‘Oh please, no!’“
Instead, relish in the powerful retort from legendary Boston Globe sports writer Bob Ryan, who looked ready to sweep Rhoden’s leg on the ESPN set when he stated in disdain:
“This Spurs team, the way it is playing right now is the most enjoyable team for me to watch since the ’87 Lakers. The ’86 Celtics and ’87 Lakers were the last two teams that had me wanting to watch every second of their games. This team is reaching that level of sharing the basketball, of clever play.
It’s a beautiful team.”
Wow. Who knew that San Antonio was home to Showtime for the New Millennium?
Spurs fan knew. Spurs fan marveled at Tony Parker taking charge, at Tim Duncan sipping from the Fountain of Youthful Legs, at Manu Ginobili still impacting a game while not scoring 20+ points a game. Spurs fan has watched as Danny Green developed into a lethal scorer, how Kawhi Leonard has matured beyond anyone’s rookie year dreams. Spurs fan sees that Tiago Splitter is a wild mustang ready to run the floor and Boris Diaw’s coming to SA turned out to be the NBA version of the French Connection III. Spurs fan knows Gary Neal is set to be clutch in crunch time, and that even Matt Bonner inspired a red-headed kid to shave the Red Rocket’s face in his hair.
Spurs Nation also knows an NBA title caliber team when it sees one.
After all, it’s not SA’s first Championship rodeo. We’ve been down this road four times before.
From this view, that sounds like the stuff that sweeps up big ratings.