The San Antonio Spurs are........
light rock and less talk, like most Adult Contemporary radio stations.
Adult Contemporary (AC) and light rock or soft rock music will never go away. AC can be varied and it has evolved through the years. Adult Contemporary and light rock can be soulful, light and breezy, poppy, lush, and acoustic. Just like the evolving Spurs who have gone through a transformation from a hard edged defensive team to an aesthetically pleasing offensive machine with incredible ball movement, modern AC has shifted from the soft rock of Chicago, James Taylor and Phil Collins to include contemporary sounds of acts ranging from Feist to Mumford and Sons to Bruno Mars, and many of the 1990s alternative pop artists like Alanis Morrisette, No Doubt and Counting Crows.
In the LA Area, it is the KOST. In the Bay Area, KOIT is "Better Music For A Better Work Day," and SUNNY 106.5 in Las Vegas, KSNE may not have better music than KOIT, but it has "Better Variety For a Better Workday." KOST 103.5's format has never deviated much from it's AC roots through the years, with the exception of the Holiday Season, when both it and KOIT switches to a Christmas Format. The Spurs are on a regular season format for most of the regular season. They rest their starters, experiment with line ups, and kind of go through the regular season with a happy go lucky shrug. Sure, they will go hard in games against the Clippers, Warriors, Thunder, Grizzlies --- as long as it is not a SEGABABA. In the past 15 years, all of the other seven Western Conference Playoff Teams in 2014 have failed to make the postseason multiple times, along with the Bulls, Heat, Cavaliers, Knicks, Kobe and the Gang, Kobe and the Revolution, Kobe and the New Power Generation, and Kobe and the S. Figueroa Street Band. The Spurs have been a playoff staple since the 1997-1998 season. Watching the Spurs will fill you with a variety of basketball excellence from the Big Fundamental, Manu Ginobili's freestyling, amazing team defense, and Kawhi Leonard's unlimited ceiling and nearly unmatched athleticism.
As long as they had Tony Parker and Ginobili, I never thought the Spurs were boring. However, as my basketball fandom refined through age, knowledge, and wisdom, I have grown to appreciate ball movement, defensive cohesion, and finding the perfect open shot more than dunks, one one one moves, and loud blocks. As much as I love hip-hop, 80s Manchester bands such as New Order, soulful house music, indie pop, and pre-Pharrell Daft Punk; there are times when I return to AC and light rock. Sometimes, I just want to hear melodic music that is easy to like and easy on the ears. As we get older, we realize that it is harder to write a sincere, melodic, pop song with beautiful arrangements than making a "hot beat," or loud EDM soundscape. Our age gives our sports fandom more knowledge, and we know that creating and maintaining a team that has made the playoffs for the last decade and a half is not an easy task.
In recent years, radio stations and formats have come and go. The mainstream stations have changed from Top 40 to alternative Top 40 in the days of Grunge, back to Top 40, to mainly rhythmic crossover and Urban Top 40 in the last decade, but most of the AC stations have remain constant just like the Spurs, their system, and their team concept. The Spurs are not glamorous. They are not the yearly soap opera that are the Knicks and Lakers. They do not preen or talk as loud as other teams. But eventually, just like a variety of melodic music, the Spurs are appreciated as time goes by.
A list of "star" players who shamelessly obtained or try to obtain an NBA ring in the twilight of their career with the Spurs: Michael Finley, Glenn Robinson, Steve Smith, Kevin Willis, Tracy McGrady, Antonio McDyess, and Jerome Kersey. Obscure players who received rings by being in San Antonio at the right place and the right time: Mengke Bateer (the Chinese player of Mongolian descent), Nazr Mohammed, Mike Wilks, Linton Johnson (sounds like a dub poet or a lovers rock singer, but he is actually an ex-Hornets/Nets/Bulls/Suns/Raptors), Tony Massenburg, James "Flight" White, and Melvin Ely.
The Spurs were not always "nice." With the taking down of the polarizing LeBron James and 2014 Championship in hand, the Spurs are now the lovable cuddly team that purists have always appreciated and the mainstream have slowly recognized. The Spurs were not always aesthetic pleasing or ethically acceptable. The Bruce Bowen-Robert Horry championship teams of 2004-2005 and 2006-2007 were defense first units who were not above questionable antics as means to an end. Bowen was partial to putting his feet under jump shooters while they are in the air and cheap shots against opponents such as kicking players while they are down. Gamesmanship is a part of the game, but Bowen's antics could have gotten players seriously injured. That was probably the plan. If Bowen could plant any seed of doubt in the opponent's head, he could gain an edge, even if that edge came because of threatening and dirty antics. Horry's career regular season averages were 7.0 points per game and a 34.1 percent three point percentage. For the playoffs, he upped his averages to 7.9 points per game, and 35.9 percent from three point range. But for many fans, he is immortal because he was a part of seven championship teams, gave timely hip checks, and is a Las Vegas regular.
Favorite Obscure Player
Jackie Butler. The Spurs signed Butler to a 3 year, 7 million dollar contract in July of 2006. Compared to some horrible contracts in recent years, the amount of money was not egregious. However, Butler was traded to the Rockets the following summer, and never appeared in the NBA game again. I love the Jackie Butler example as a point that even with all the late first round and second round gems and great overseas under the radar signing, the Spurs screwed up too. The Spurs signed Butler though the recommendation of stat geek/analytics community icon, John Hollinger. Butler's PER and per 36 minutes statistics were good before the Spurs' signing, however, after receiving the contract, he never improved his conditioning to an acceptable NBA level. He never played in the 2007 Playoffs, but Butler is an NBA Champion and 7 million dollars richer, thanks to advance statistics and being 6'10.
Spurs Watchability Essay
Boris Diaw. There is no one quite like Boris Diaw, not Josh McRoberts, not Kyle Anderson, not yet. A big part of my viewership of sports is for artistry and aesthetics, along with competition and technical aspects. I appreciate boxers that are not knock out artists, but do not get hit. I appreciate shotmaking tennis players who will never make a grand slam semi-finals. Boris Diaw is an artist. Diaw is unselfish, but not selfishly unselfish. His passes, sometimes simple other times incredulous, makes his team better. Diaw is difficult to defend because he can do everything on the court. He can handle the ball, rebound, move his feet fairly well on defense, and is a league average three point shooter. Without Diaw causing match up problems, dropping 26 points against OKC, and allowing countering the Heat's small line up with a better smaller line up of their own, the Spurs do not win the 2014 Championship. Additionally, while Chandler Parsons, who needs fame more than he needs fortune, signed his contract in a night club, Boris Diaw signed his latest contract on a sailboat. Parson is over the top, but Diaw is understated cool, and a man after Christopher Cross's heart.
As good as some AC music is in the new millennium and the oughts, it will never compare to the 1970s or the early 1980s. Jason Mraz or Jack Johnson vs. Russ Titelman-Lenny Waronker era James Taylor or Christopher Cross' first two albums, it is not even close. This late period Tim Duncan era is classic Spurs. Watch Tm Duncan reach into his old man bag of tricks on offense and defense, including the angled bank shots, pinpoint passes, post moves, and contesting and changing shots without elite athleticism or young legs. Tony Parker's game has gotten more subtle and sublime with age. He can still finish around the basket, and it is almost unfair that he can shoot corner threes now. Ginobili's genius is still going for a few more years, and it is always enjoyable seeing spectacular passes and a few ridiculous turnovers. Add accurate three point shooters, good defenders in Tiago Splitter and Cory Joseph, Marco Belinelli doing his Ginobili impersonation, and Kawhi Leonard wreaking havoc on both ends, this Spurs' team is an amazing watch, and like 1970s and 1980s AC, something we will never hear or see again.
Paul Tee's Prognosis: Constant with minor changes.
This version of the Spurs, barring any major injuries, will be the favorite to win the Western Conference. Even with the Grizzlies and Warriors off to amazing starts, the Spurs are the most complete team in the NBA. In the future, when they sign Kawhi Leonard to his max extension, they will be in the Playoffs for the next 10 to 12 years. Just like Light Rock/Adult Contemporary Music, the Spurs will never die, they may change around the edges, but they will never die.