Here's a working barstool-grade theory as to why, during its dynastic run to four (perhaps soon five) titles since 1999, America still embraces the San Antonio Spurs with a yawn and a why are you still here? squint. This phenomenon has flustered if not baffled sports cognoscenti for years. But they play pure, team-oriented basketball, they say. Save it for the WNBA, America replies. Let's stop overthinking this already. People don't care about the Spurs because no one knows enough about San Antonio to really give a shit one way or the other.
There are other reasons, sure. Tim Duncan, bless 'em, is just too technically reliable. (There's a reason why people write books not about the planes that arrive on-time, but rather the ones that crash in the mountains and create cannibals.) His supposed highlight reels on YouTube are disappointingly rote, just more Tim filling up a box score, a 7-footer hop-dunking off of single-dribble drives. The most iconic shot he ever made was immediately surpassed by the most iconic shot Derek Fisher ever made. And so on. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili both play madcap playground games and are a blast to watch, sure. But neither got the boost of playing his amateur ball in the States, and while both are exceptional, neither seems like a transcendent talent. Coach Gregg Popovich, who's most contented when people stop asking questions, said as much in this week's Sports Illustrated, about Ginobili: "With Manu, he's like Michael and Kobe minus the same level of talent." He meant it as a compliment.