The largest crowd in NBA history came out to watch the San Antonio Spurs — there’s always something to root for, even when your team is bad.
Have your cake and eat it too. Is that not an impossible dream? Sometimes you just have to settle for a $12 burger and a $10 beer. Hopefully, the seats are good.
Cut the NBA in half and a good deal of the league would struggle to hold onto their proverbial baked good, and if the burger and beer were the motive for game attendance, then maybe conduct a few more Google searches in your local area. Read the Yelp reviews with care. Find the affordable restaurant of your dreams.
The current crop of moribund NBA franchises includes the Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, and Houston Rockets. Every few games the Los Angeles Lakers join the group, only to defibrillate shortly thereafter. The fate of the Washington Wizards is also somewhat uncertain. The number of wins needed to grab a life preserver is not a large one, but that’s not much guaranteed in open water. These teams have all arrived in the league’s bottom tier in different ways. Some took years to arrive. Some crashed rather suddenly. Some will stay longer than others. A few might never leave.
With fewer than 20 wins at roughly the halfway point in the season’s journey, pessimism is easy. San Antonio and Houston are likely to sunk costs. Highlights in Orlando are more frequent than they once were, but the trajectory appears downward, at least for this season.
The San Antonio Spurs are sliding but they are still giving their fans plenty to root for
The San Antonio Spurs recently set an NBA attendance record while playing a game against the Golden State Warriors in the Alamodome. The game was a blowout, and on air, ESPN’s Michael Wilbon wondered, who or what is this for? Wilbon’s not necessarily a cynic, but he wants his records tied to on-court results. Maybe that’s about keeping the cake holy.
The Spurs managed to attract 68,323 individuals to the Alamodome for a game celebrating their 50th Anniversary as a franchise. Stephen Curry was in town, sure, but his Warriors aren’t exactly lighting up the season. They are a defending champion worn thin So the real attraction was history: the attendance number and the five titles won in an era growing less and less recent. Of course, that history even as it crawls toward the ancient is something that spurs love. San Antonio fans are not indifferent toward their team. They are donned in silver and black or fiesta colors and rooting for their team to rise again.
That’s going to be a while, though. Gregg Popovich is still the head coach in San Antonio. He spans the gap, and when ex-players from those title teams are in the vicinity, they still look like they could give their old coach some runs. But the Spurs are very far from what they were.
Jeremy Sochan is an equal parts solid contributor and Comic Con character. Keldon Johnson is worthy of applause in the open court, but the more closely one watches the more his play invites criticism on either side of the half-court. The would-be stalwarts are all gone, in Boston, in Atlanta. Los Angeles too. Funfetti for other parties.
What might speed the restoration is tanking, and maybe it’s possible to have tanking and basketball too. What if the NBA granted the number one pick to a team that set attendance records? Perhaps every team in pursuit of the number one pick could throw an Alamodome-sized party; a gimmick in the name of love.
Whether or not tanking even works probably depends on how one defines success, or how one values the journey when held against the destination. Either way, tying attendance to the number one pick would yoke the destination to the journey. Fans would have to pay a literal price for wanting to win.
But perhaps one night in the Alamodome isn’t enough. Maybe the lottery team with the highest average home attendance for the season should be granted the number one pick. Or perhaps a cumulative attendance number should unlock the secret recipe for success. Maybe if a moribund franchise can somehow buy up all the road tickets and invade another team’s home court, then such passion could be rewarded with talent. The methods for resolution are never-ending. The debates are never ending. May the worst team be seen and seen again. Then maybe Michael Wilbon might have reason to pardon the guillotine.
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