The Spurs Are The Basketball Illuminati

San Antonio has missed the playoffs only four times since joining the league in 1976, and they could be in line for their fifth championship this year. Are the small-market Spurs America’s basketball team? posted on

MIKE STONE / Reuters

The Spurs are our basketball Kennedys, minus the tragedy. They’re our basketball Bushes, except smarter. They’re our basketball Coppolas, but less pretentious. What I’m getting at here: the Spurs are the Illuminati.

As a franchise, San Antonio has been magnificently competent from generation to generation; the team constantly waits in the wings, ready to destroy any and all upstarts. Of course, they don’t win the championship every year, because that would be impossible, but even when they don’t, they influence the turn of events, snagging the #1 seed or looming large on the road to the title. Regardless of the individual flavors that the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, this year’s NBA darlings, happen to represent, both teams exist in the same realm of newness, fresh to the party, still trying to get the feel of their entitlement. The Spurs have known that status for decades, and the insane and unflagging steadiness with which San Antonio has operated over the course of the franchise’s history should be the model for every professional sports team in existence. I mean, just consider this: they’ve only missed the playoffs four times since 1976, when they joined the NBA.

How have they done this? Well, first off, they’re the Illuminati, and THEY CAN SEE EVERYTHING.

I don’t think they can actually see everything. But like the Illuminati, the Spurs seem to exist in the background of the league every year: they’re “boring,” they’re subtle, they dominate quietly and with little fanfare. They have a similar color scheme. (If you think it’s a coincidence that Jay-Z stole the Spurs colors for the Brooklyn Nets, THINK AGAIN.) The operative idea here is that, despite being perpetually under the radar, and in large part because they dominated the post-Jordan aughts — one of the league’s least visible eras — San Antonio’s influence seems weirdly small and diffuse, even though it isn’t.

Basketballwise, they’ve done this by having the best coach in basketball (Gregg Popovich), two of the best big men of all time (David Robinson and Tim Duncan), tremendous guards (Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili), and a constantly refreshed and updated cast of supporting characters (Steve Kerr to Stephen Jackson to Bruce Bowen to Gary Neal, among many others). Part of building a dynasty — part of never seeing a gap in your success — is being lucky as hell, and like a family without a single off-generation, the Spurs fortuitously netted Tim Duncan just when things could’ve turned south.

Inserting the Spurs into the Thunder-Heat narrative mucks it up in all the right ways. We adore OKC as front-office savvy at its sexiest and most effective, the sports equivalent of a peerless tech startup. In fact, it’s the Spurs who define business-like hyperefficiency, and they’ve been doing it forever. We begrudgingly hate the Heat for their success, and revel in their inability to conquer Earth, even though, for all we know, we’re better off under their reign. In fact, the Spurs are the superpower, the axis on which the world twirls, their influence immutable felt in all of our living rooms. To love the Thunder is to love the Spurs, and to hate the Heat is to hate the Spurs. Only the anomalous kids, hating OKC for the way their gears sometimes grind together, loving the Heat for how beautifully they play the game of basketball, truly understand San Antonio.

Considering our desire as a country for goats to hate and underdogs to admire, it’s no wonder the the Spurs so consistently fly under the radar — nobody truly cares to see them suffer, and they haven’t been an underdog in generations, yet never grow ostentatious enough to work on the other side of this narrative. In a country that tries to pretend it lacks royalty — that acts like dynasties don’t exist — the Spurs are the champions we truly deserve: manicured, established, and untouchable.

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