NBA / Jan 21, 2011 / 12:00 pm

The Spurs Suffer From The New England Patriots Theory

San Antonio Spurs

Is this what you want to see?

Knock Knock.
Who’s there?
Spurs who?
The San Antonio Spurs.
Wait who?
The San Antonio Spurs. We’re 36-6, we’re in first place in the West and have the best record in the NBA. Can we come in?
No, you’re boring.

This, in my opinion, is the series of events that occur in peoples’ heads when deciding whether or not they want to watch the Spurs play. It’s the only logical explanation. The Spurs boast the best record in the League (36-6), the best home record in the league (23-2) and are on pace to finish with the second best regular season record in NBA history (70-12). They are one of the few franchises left who play “team” basketball and are coached by a man who believes in winning games the old-fashioned way, with defense and rebounding. They are led by the greatest power forward of all… but they’re boring. (Sorry, I keep forgetting.)

Oh, and remember that make-believe door you slammed in the Spurs face? Yeah, that was you changing the channel to watch “Jersey Shore” instead. And you call yourself a sports fan…

But the question remains: Why is no one talking about the Spurs? Is it possible for a teams’ lack of style and flair to outweigh everything else to the point where even SportsCenter refuses to acknowledge them?

I have a theory I’ve called The New England Patriots Theory.

Wait, I thought this was about basketball? The New England Patriots have been a football juggernaut this decade, winning three Super Bowls since 2002, more than any other franchise in the NFL. But sports fans are sick of the Pats. They’ve had enough of Bill Belichick, his media mind tricks and that damn sweatshirt. They understand Tom Brady is a Hall of Fame quarterback. Blah blah blah. They know… And that’s the problem. Because the Patriots have sustained such a high level of success for an extended period of time, they have become boring. But a different kind of boring. Not the type of boring where you’re sitting in class debating whether you would rather gouge your eyes out or pay attention. The type of boring in which fans have become so accustomed to the Pats success that it’s boring. Sports fans don’t want to see the same team win over and over. They enjoy seeing different teams and different players succeed. The new story lines developing right before their eyes. Watching live as the unknowns become known on the biggest stage. Who wants to see the same team win over and over?

I think this “Patriots” style of boring has been shackled onto the Spurs as well. Much like the Patriots, the Spurs have been dominate, winning four championships in the last 12 years.

Maybe this is why no one is talking about the Spurs. Maybe people are just sick of them? Have people seen this too many times before? Maybe it’s like a bad chick flick that your girlfriend drags you to and swears is “actually a really good movie.” Once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all right?

Or maybe this generation is different. With the viewers’ attention span being so short in today’s society, people only want to see the “wow” plays. The plays that make you stand up out of your seat. The plays that make you rewind and watch again. People don’t care about a perfectly executed up and under. People don’t care when a defender takes a charge to prevent an easy layup. Nobody cares about help defense. Nobody cares about post moves. Today’s generation wants dunks!

But as sports fans we’re better than that. We have responsibilities. We’re supposed to care about the little things. It’s our job to recognize potential greatness. It’s our job to appreciate what is being accomplished regardless of our rooting interests. So the Spurs don’t have a guy whose going to blow the roof off the building with a thunderous dunk. Big deal. The next time you catch the Spurs on ESPN, watch how Tony Parker uses the pick-and-roll to create space for his jumper. Pay attention to how Manu Ginobili uses the pump-fake to get to the rim. Admire Tim Duncan‘s footwork when he gets the ball in the post and goes to work. Maybe then will you realize why the Spurs are 36-6.

The Opera is boring. The Spurs are good.

What do you think?

Follow Scott on Twitter at @scott_horlbeck.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

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  • That’s What’s Up

    The Spurs have never cared about rankings, accolades or public opinion. Why would it start now?

    They’re healthy, have a good mix of youth and vets and have the best record in the league. What’s not to like?

  • Gnasche

    I don’t agree with the first part – about teams getting boring because they win frequently. The Lakers had a similar run this decade and did not get the boring moniker.

    The second part – yes, that’s it. I think it’s more the marketing of the NBA under Stern. They stopped marketing teams and started marketing players (and it’s worked well). They don’t say Lakers vs Celtics as often as they used to. You’re more likely to hear Kobe vs Pierce (or Shaq). That’s what has brought in a lot of new fans.

    This marketing didn’t help the Spurs who ran everything through Duncan until this year. His signature move? The bank shot. Shaq brought down backboards. Which one is going to get more attention from the new fan?

    However, it’s harder to win a championship these days with a star player. You need a star team. The NBA might have to go back to the old way of marketing – two powerhouse teams face off. By then, though, the Spurs might be lottery bound.

  • @mattogborn

    And so say all of us… well Spurs fans anyway, Scott. Hold my hand up, we had become a tad predictable and formulaic, however this season we are playing some of the best, quick attacking hoops out there. Even Jefferson is knocking the treys down from the corners! We need Manu and TP to stay fit, but Neal, Bonner, Hill etc stepping up

  • Mike Mihalow

    Who are the Spurs? They play football?

  • Dagtang Lason

    @Mike Mihalow – Nope, They are the 2011 NBA World Champions.. Remember you heard it from here 1st!!!


    Boring team. Fat Women. Dirty river water. Charles Barkley has never been so right.

  • Bill

    People can appreciate perfect execution and defense now a days. It’s just watching the spurs execute to perfection is boring.

    Watching the celtics run perfect execution getting Ray an open three is a lot more exciting then anything run for Manu.

    Kg defending the pick and roll.

    Big baby taking a charge, something about a fat ass getting into position and falling is awesome.

  • shourjo

    Good read. Been a Spurs fan and a TX native almost my whole life and there’s always been this anti-Spur bias about them being boring. I guess I can kinda see it. At the same time, anyone who appreciates the game has to marvel at the way they go about their business and that franchise’s sense of culture. Both are at least moderate outliers in the modern age of sports. That alone is deserving of more press than they’ve received over their long-term tenure at or near the top.

    One last night – I don’t know if ppl in other parts of the country recognize this – but Spurs-Mavericks has been one of the best basketball rivalries of any kind over the last decade. Other than the Finals matchup last season (which was admittedly great), no other series was as gritty or competitive than those two teams facing off in the first round.

  • shourjo

    *One last thing

  • dagwaller

    The Lakers wear purple and gold, colors associated with royalty.

    The Celtics wear bright green, which is a color associated with the city’s cultural identity.

    The Spurs wear black and white, colors associated with being old and boring.

    It might be as simple as that.

  • First & Foremost

    If I had to choose, I’d rather see individual greatness over a perfect system. The system works but you know whats coming, there isn’t a surprise ending. When the Pats need to convert a 3rd&5 you know Wes Welker in the slot is running an option route based on the position of his defender. I would rather see a qb running around buying time and a broken play miraculously get the first down by the nose of the ball.

    Sports are for entertainment, it is not entertaining when you know the outcome.

    The Spurs do knock knock jokes with a peephole.

  • https://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    I say they are boring but not so much from winning. As others have said, the Lakers have won and they are never boring.

    I think it’s more of being boring from being predictable. Not that it’s a bad thing, just a boring thing. It’s like watching a fighter who is mostly defensive but always wins. He is boring as crap and predictable but can’t be stopped and always wins (till an exciting unpredictable guy catches him with a haymaker lol).

    They are going to keep their players till they are short of a rocking chair. They have the type of players that aren’t after taking their talents elsewhere. They run pretty much the same offense with a few differences here and there. Will Tim Duncan shoot off the backboard? Yes. Will Tony get to the hoop? Yes. Will Manu flop, I mean will Manu hit daggers? Yes. Will the other roll players come up big out of no-where? Yes.

    Same crap, but winning crap. Usually the only people knocking it is people who aren’t Spurs fans lol. For them it’s exciting because boring as it is, winning is always ultimately exciting.

  • karizmatic

    The Spurs methodical style of play is boring to most people. Other than that you make good points, the one I think you missed is that people still assume they won’t make it to the finals and I think that’s one reason a lot of people aren’t paying attention.

  • 100K

    dead on comparison

  • Adrian Zapata

    I’ve been to about 15 home Spurs games this year. None of them were boring. Maybe it’s cause we just win all the time.

  • dkc

    SPOT ON. This article was one of the best comparisons I’ve seen in a long time and I read sports articles frequently. Great humor too you had me laughing throughout.

    “changing the channel to watch “Jersey Shore” instead. And you call yourself a sports fan…” Great line!

  • shiptar

    Spurs and Patriots represent greatness… who doesn’t respect that isn’t a true sports fan!

  • Mike Mihalow

    The Spurs are one of the highest scoring teams this season, and they’re still called “boring” by some people. Have those idiots watched any Spurs games this season to know that, or are they just assuming they’re still boring based off something they have no knowledge of?

  • marcus the great

    i will say they normally get the ‘change channel’ treatment, but this season they haven’t been THAT boring. somehow they’re more exciting than seasons past. anybody who normally ignores them should check them out when they’re on TV

  • jzsmoove

    the Spurs arent boring. i would rather see a good match between Spurs and _____ rather than a flashy sloppy game between anybody. Methodical is the right word. Nothing wrong with that.

  • Mark

    First & Foremost is right. The NBA is entertainment. The Spurs are a WNBA team in the NBA. Perfect execution, an example you coach your kids, and a team that would win 100 games of pick-up, but we want flair and personality… why do you think the WWE has been sustainable?

    No offense to the WNBA (I watch from time to time), but nobody wants to watch fundamentals.

  • Art

    Argument might have worked if you tried to compare the Lakers to the Patriots (as both teams have the most championships in the last 10 years in their respective sports) the only problems is that although the general public is tired of the Patriots the media still gives them more coverage than any other NFL franchise (possibly spurring the publics distaste for them.) The Spurs also play boring basketball in a sport that walks a THIN line between tradition and entertainment (ask Stern,) where as the Pats play exciting football consistently throwing the football and furthering themselves from playing solid defense. Love that the Spurs still play team ball, hate the Pats and Brady, but the analogy just doesn’t work….expect more out of Dime