Really, the only disorienting part of it is the uniforms. A team lately composed mainly of weird misshapen basketball nobodies scrounged from the sport’s couch cushions—a team that on any given night gets but more importantly needs and maybe even cannot survive without meaningful contributions from persons named Bryn Forbes and Dāvis Bertāns—has been playing sub-.500 ball since the New Year and is struggling to hold a spot among the top eight in the NBA’s loaded Western Conference. That’s how it’s supposed to go, right?
That team happens to be the San Antonio Spurs, who, coached by Gregg Popovich, have been for over 20 years immune to the ordinary physical laws attached in all other cases to questions like who’s on the roster and are they good, and so it seems weird. They got bombed to hell, at home, by the Lakers on Saturday; it was the weekend’s most shocking result, at least at the level of the standings and the names of the teams: the Spurs, who have been implacably great for longer than some current NBA players have been alive; and the Lakers, who blow. At some level this was a momentous occasion for both franchises; how could it not be?
Well, but also: okay. Right. Up is, in fact, not down. Yes, that is correct. Lottery pick Lonzo Ball, lottery pick Julius Randle, former 10th overall* pick Brook Lopez, fellow first-round talents Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and legit Rookie of the Year candidate Kyle Kuzma... yes, this team of large, strong, athletic, multifarious basketball men did indeed find the firepower to outscore uh Extremely Slow Enormous Forehead Haver Kyle Anderson and Forbes and Bertāns, and the ancient dissolving husks of Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, whose average age is my actual age. I definitely do not struggle to believe that that happened. The weird part is that it seemed weird. It still seems kind of weird! That’s weird.
The Spurs are in trouble I guess. They continue to be without Kawhi Leonard, out for all but a scattered smattering of minutes since Zaza Pachulia slipped a foot under him last May; LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed Saturday’s loss with an injured ankle, has been gimpy for weeks. This leaves the Spurs with a lineup that would not look at all out of place in the tank-off for Luka Dončić. The crisis is, they’ve lost eight of 10 and fallen to sixth in the West; Anderson, Forbes, Bertāns, and various shambling mummies may not be enough for the Spurs to quite keep pace with the fucking Rockets and Warriors, if they do not get their 32-year-old earthbound back-to-the-basket power forward back soon.
Dip Popovich and R.C. Buford in molten gold, I think is what I’m saying, here. Etch their likenesses on the moon with a laser.