(above : Z-Bo forces us to reconsider Matt Bonner’s legacy)
It’s relatively early here in the Central Time Zone, so Two Man Game’s Rob Mahoney has yet to take the opportunity to celebrate Dallas’ gutty display in erasing a 16 point deficit against Los Angeles last night. However, he did take the time over the weekend to consider San Antonio’s first round exit at the hands of Memphis and wonders aloud why the #1 seed’s fall “has inspired more mourning than mocking, more admiring lament than schadenfreude”. Particularly when compared to the popular consensus surrounding the Mavericks’ first round playoff defeat against Golden State 4 years ago.
I’m quite certain that had this year’s Lakers — the reigning back-to-back NBA champs, mind you — lost in 6 games to the Hornets in the first round, it would be universally regarded as an embarrassing and derisible failure. They would be considered “soft,” and everyone from Pau Gasol to Kobe Bryant to Phil Jackson would be questioned.
The team that “hasn’t won anything,” was mocked for continuing their ringless trajectory, and the team that has won everything (including those affirming championship rings) would be ripped to pieces for their inability to make it out of the first round. So where, exactly, does that put the Spurs? They’re somehow given the full respect of a champion but without any of the baggage, perhaps the only No. 1 seed in the modern era capable of losing a first-round series with minimal heckling. Many readers and writers of the narrative seem to have things jumbled; highly successful regular season teams are otherwise taunted for the playoff shortcomings regardless of a championship pedigree, yet San Antonio remains untarnished.
As an organization, a team, and a basketball concept, the Spurs deserve respect. I just see no compelling reason why their failures exist on a different plane from those of all other teams, or why the context of this loss is so unique as to be treated with reverence. Sports fans have nothing if not the selective enforcement of their own personal rules, but all I ask for is the slightest bit of logical consistency.