San Antonio Spurs = NBA Villains? Spurs championship, Bruce Bowen dirty player, Tony Parker and Eva Longoria, Longoria and Parker wedding off

San Antonio Spurs = NBA Villains?

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It’s getting easy to root against the Spurs.

Once considered the classiest of NBA franchises, a series of incidents (along with some grating habits) have cast the Spurs in the role of NBA villain. Here are five reasons why the Spurs have become the team that everyone (outside of San Antonio) loves to root against. The first is as old as the day is long…

#1: Success breeds contempt

Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, Tony ParkerOver the last 10 years, nobody has been better than the Spurs. Since Tim Duncan’s arrival in 1997, the team has won three NBA titles and 71% of their regular season games. An impressive record, for sure, but lots of teams have enjoyed success after the arrival of a franchise player. The thing is, for all intents and purposes, Duncan shouldn’t even be a Spur. Prior to the 20-62 season that led to the #1 pick in the 1997 NBA Draft – the season that David Robinson conveniently missed all but six games due to injury – the Spurs had rattled off a 383-191 record (67%) en route to seven consecutive playoff appearances. And this is the team that lucked into Duncan, arguably the best player of his generation!

While the Spurs have been fortunate in the draft, they’ve been pretty good too. In 1999, they snagged Manu Ginobili with the second to last pick in the second round. In 2001, they selected Tony Parker with the last pick in the first round. Landing those two players from those draft positions has been a veritable coup for the franchise, and has overshadowed its otherwise lackluster draft record. (Other than benchwarmer Beno Udrih, there isn’t another Spurs’ draft pick on the roster, and in 2005, the team traded away Leandro Barbosa after passing on Josh Howard.)

The Spurs have been incredibly sharp in building their team. They locked Parker and Ginobili into affordable contracts before either player hit their prime. Take a look at their salary cap situation – there isn’t a single bad contract on the list. Note the cap flexibility the team will have after next season. They’ll be able to give the team a complete makeover if they choose to do so, while having Duncan, Parker and Ginobili locked in for the long term.

But, as they say, success breeds contempt, or in this case, fatigue. People are simply tired of the Spurs being so good so consistently. It’s the same rationale that has painted the Patriots, Blue Devils and Yankees as villains in their respective sports (though no one has ever accused New England or Duke of buying their wins).

Moreover, the Spurs just dispatched every NBA fan’s adopted team – the Suns – by questionable means. It’s one thing to win a series straight up. It’s another to take control of the series because a couple of players on the other team were suspended because they broke a stupid rule after one of your guys committed a hard foul. I’m sure the Spurs would rather have played against Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw in Game 5, but the fact is that they didn’t, and if they go on to win the title, that dark cloud will forever hang over these playoffs.

#2: Bruce Bowen is a dirty player

Bruce BowenDon’t get me wrong – Bruce Bowen is a great defender. Hell, he’s got seven consecutive All-Defense awards. But the guy is dirty. As a former player, I’d say there is nothing more annoying than having a defender run underneath you as you go up for a shot. Not only is it disconcerting, but it’s also dangerous. Most sprained ankles occur because one player comes underneath an airborne player. Bowen is also known for throwing elbows and knees to gain advantage – just ask Steve Nash, who had both his mug and groin assaulted by Bowen. And what about the play where Stoudemire had a clean dunk and Bowen raced down the lane just in time to step on the guy’s calf? What’s the purpose of that?

That said, I think it’s the league’s fault for not cracking down more on this. Fines are one thing, but if you start handing out suspensions for consistently dirty play, things will clear up quickly. You can’t blame Bowen for doing whatever he can to stay relevant. If he couldn’t get into his opponents’ heads, he wouldn’t even be in the league.

#3: Neither Tim Duncan nor Manu Ginobili ever commit a foul

Tim Duncan, Manu GinobiliBefore Duncan’s run in with Joey Crawford, he had a reputation for being a complainer, but everyone tolerated it because they figured he was generally a good guy. But that incident really shined a light on Duncan’s interaction with the officials. The guy never admits to committing a foul. Okay, maybe “never” is a strong word, but can you remember the last time Duncan got whistled for a foul without doing his googly-eyed, “I’m in disbelief” routine? I certainly can’t.

Ginobili is another guy that can do no wrong. He’s a fiery competitor who often gets emotionally involved in games, and such players have a tendency to see everything through rose-colored glasses. He always reaches in on the ball handler and then throws a fit when he gets called for a foul. What’s worse, the replay usually confirms that it was indeed a foul.

#4: They lack color

I’m not advocating they go back to the rainbow of fruit flavors logo they used from 1990-2002, but the black, silver and white color scheme is lackluster. Couple that with the fact that their style of play is considered pretty tedious by all but the San Antonio faithful, and you’ve got a team that’s boring to watch. The NFL has a team with the same color scheme – the Oakland Radiers – and they’re universally hated. Coincidence? I think not.

#5: Tony Parker’s off-court activities

Tony ParkerI love Parker’s game. He has a killer teardrop shot and has really improved since he entered the league. And, unlike Duncan and Ginobili, he rarely complains to the officials. But there are two things that make him unlikable: (1) he’s engaged to one of the world’s hottest women and (2) he just released a French rap album (be sure to check out the cringe-inducing whisper rap at the 2:50 mark). I could handle one or the other, but not both.

(At press time, there are rumors of a Parker/Longoria split. You’d think this would be enough to put Parker back in my good graces, but after thinking about it, I still can’t get over the French rap album.)


Send questions and comments to jpaulsen@bullz-eye.com.