Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'm Starting To Get Excited & That Makes Me Nervous

I didn't want to write this post too early because the NBA season is very long, but I saw this Spurs team the other night live and the only words I have is "The Spurs are really good".  Listen, it's still really early and the schedule hasn't been the toughest but all in all I don't think any Spurs fan is complaining about the first 23 games.

The most encouraging part about this start is the versatility this team has shown.  I love what Manu is bringing and I really have no desire for any sort of normalization between the French and I, but Tony Parker has looked great too.  The big difference between this team and the last couple of seasons is how deep the Spurs are at the guard positions.  James Anderson's injury has opened the door for Gary Neal's development and I honestly can't wait for Anderson to get back because that's one more guy who has shown he can hit an open three and is aggressive on defense.  Plus he's 6'6" which means they don't have to go with that lineup of Parker, Hill Neal at the 1, 2, 3 spots.  That lineup is going to get them burned one of these days.

Let's be real though,  20-3 is 20-3.  It's 4 games up on the Lakers in the loss column and that's all I care about.  I love that margin of victory is a ten point average (as John Hollinger notes, the margin of victory is the highest predictor for future success). I love that they seemingly have a different guy stepping up every game.  I love that Tim Duncan is in cruise control right now (something tells me that changes in the coming weeks). But most importantly I love that if the playoffs started today the Spurs would have home court advantage throughout the playoffs and wouldn't see the Lakers until the Western Conference Finals.

Alright, so we're barely one fourth of the way through the regular season, but this Spurs team is for real.  Hopefully they continue to pad that win total the rest of this month because the schedule doesn't get any easier.  This team is deep at every position, especially once Misssssterrrr Anderson gets back (Matrix, anyone?) and back in to game shape.  I'm trying really hard to stay cautiously optimistic but as every game passes I'm getting more and more excited for where this team goes come playoff time.

*Just wanted to note that in a couple weeks I'll be moving to Sacramento in a couple of weeks.  I'm incredibly excited about the oppurtunities I'm about to walk in to, but don't for a second think I'm going to forget about Los Spurs.  I've got NBA League Pass ready to go and don't plan on missing many games.  You may also see some Kings and general NBA talk, but let's be real, could you possibly see me neglecting my Spurs? I didn't think so.

Two Quiet Cities, Two Quiet Superstars

Last month during one of the timeouts at the Bulls-Spurs game, they flashed a shot of Albert Pujols on the jumbo tron.  Most people didn't know who it was, he probably just looked like any other Hispanic guy at a Spurs game. And really that's probably how Phat Albert wanted it.  He's never been a look at me guy, which from a marketing sense is unfortunate, because if he wanted to be, Albert Pujols could be the biggest star in baseball thanks to his incredible talent and near flawless reputation (well there was this awesome SportsCenter commercial).  But that's not how he wants it and whether he knew it or not, Albert Pujols courtside at a Spurs game made perfect sense.

Pujols was in town for his former teammate Mike Koolbaugh's Memorial Golf Tournament (Coolbaugh died after being hit in the head by a line drive during a minor league game). He was watching another quiet superstar in Tim Duncan.  That night, Duncan didn't do anything flashy but finished 16 points, 18 boards and 5 assists.  Not much was said about it after the game on SportsCenter, even if it was the Spurs 9th win in a row.  Now I want you to remember I said this in the spring or summer when Albert Pujols is doing fantastic things on the baseball field, but the media is largely ignoring him because he doesn't play on the East Coast and because he's been so great for so long, it tends to get lost writers and ESPN talking heads (sound familiar, Spurs fans?").

When I intially started writing this Pujols had just missed out on his 3rd straight season for no other reason then Joey Votto is a better story this year and Pujols' numbers would have had to blow everyone else's out of the water for him to get that MVP. 

I lived in St. Louis for five years and really came to appreciate that city's love for baseball and their not so flashy star.  It reminds me of how this city fell in love with David Robinson and then Tim Duncan.  The quiet, awesome consistency that defines all of their careers.  Now as I finish writing this, I keep reading about how the Cardinals may not extend Pujols.  I don't buy it for a minute but if it is, I hope the Cardinals front office understands, like the Spurs have with Duncan every time his contract comes up, that a player and man like Pujols comes across once in a generation and when that happens you do whatever you can to keep him in the fold.