An awful post deserves an hackneyed headline. There. You’ve been warned …

The San Antonio Spurs make me feel bad about myself. And, yes, I’m aware that statement projects the emotional maturity of a 6-year-old.

What I mean is this: The Spurs have won 20 games in a row, including the first 10 of the ongoing NBA playoffs. It’s one of the best runs in recent years if not league history. They’re not pretty much killing it (#pmki), they’re entirely killing it and not trying to cover it up.

The real Big Three of these playoffs – Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker – look younger, healthier and more brilliant than ever. (Related note: Props to you, Manu, for going with the buzz cut instead of trying to grow enough hair to cover up your friar bald spot.) And they’ve been given help – weird, surprising help. Stephen Jackson has given up fighting on the court and firing guns into the air in favor of professionalism and production. Rookie Kawhi Leonard has developed his all-around game in no time, shattering projections that had him as a tweener in the pro game. He’s even got the stoic face down. And Danny Green? He was in the D-League as recently as January, briefly (we’re talking minutes or seconds) the property of your very own Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Fun fact: None of these guys were born in the contiguous United States.

By comparison, ginger sniper Matt Bonner is a sure thing. The way San Antone has moved on from last year’s first-round flameout is astounding, a credit to coach Gregg Popvich, the NBA version of Bill Belichik in that he’s a winner, a borderline savant and an intimidating interview.

But here’s the rub: I’ve never in my life made a point to turn on the TV to watch the Spurs. Not once. Yet I don’t dislike them – not their purportedly fundamental style of play or their cerebral approach. Or their small-market status or team-building strategy. In fact, to tackle this from a different angle, I dislike the Miami Heat in part because they don’t value many (if any) of those tenets.

I have zero reason not to like and maybe even love the Spurs and their brand of ball. So why don’t I? Let’s try on three theories for size:

1) San Antonio has wronged me in the past. Or not. What I mean is this: I dug Tim Duncan in college. Watched a ton of his Wake Forest games on TV. So something must have soured me on the Big Fundamental along the way. The Spurs definitely eliminated the Suns and Steve Nash – one of my favorite individual players of the last 15 years – a time or two in the playoffs, once in controversial fashion. Did they also play a role in preventing Chuck Barkley – another of my faves – from winning the title he deserved? I’m asking because I’m not sure. If so, this option would be somewhat sensical in that it’s hard to reverse the dislike switch once it’s been flipped.

2) We’ve been beaten over the head for years that the Spurs play a boring brand of ball. Clearly, that’s not the case this year and maybe not ever, especially if you put stock in results and class. I claim to be smart enough to appreciate the subtleties of sport like the Duncan bank shot or the Euro-step that Parker and Ginobili utilize, to be able to see past the highlight-reel dunk (ahem, Blake Griffin). But have “they” brainwashed me to think otherwise?
To wit, the Thunder are my favorite playoff team to watch from an excitement and enjoyment standpoint. They’re young, athletic and explosive. And on Tuesday night they were on the verge of getting run out of the Alamodome.

3) I am an idiot. This is probably the most likely scenario based on everything above. I don’t think I watched the Spurs play one minute during the condensed regular season, so it took at least one round of the playoffs to get up to speed with the current crew, to realize that this isn’t merely a warmed-over version of last year’s roster. I’ve been trying, really trying to drop any preconceived notions about the club, to clean the slate, almost view San Antonio as an expansion team. Instead, it’s felt forced, like trying to find the intended message in a piece of art.
If there is any measure of satisfaction in watching San Antonio (so far) pick apart the more marketable Thunder, it’s the prospect that the roll will carry over into The Finals and perhaps prevent the grating Heat from winning a title.

Frankly, I can’t believe how much time I’ve spent thinking about this and how genuinely conflicted I feel about it, knowing that the Spurs deserve appreciation if not adoration and being unable to muster it without effort. That could be the true genius of the Spurs – they’re more Wes Anderson film than comic-book blockbuster.

They’re not for everybody, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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