If you’re a fan of the San Antonio Spurs, it’s been pretty rough for over the past year. First, you go through the retirement of Manu Ginobili as he becomes the final remaining member of the Big Three to end his time with the franchise. Before that, you had Tony Parker leaving for Charlotte in free agency. Then even before the regular season even started, Dejounte Murray tears his ACL in a pre-season game. Oh, and did we mention that this off-season was the same one that the Spurs had to trade away one of the best players in the game right now in what could be called one of the most confusing, mysterious, and infuriating situations that the Spurs and their fanbase had experienced up to this point. Just less then a year after “The Trade”, the Spurs find themselves as a first round exit in a close seven-game series after a wild up and down season of lack-luster defense and a shining rising star named Derrick White. Besides the ups and down, the Spurs fans see the light at the end of the tunnel, with young talent about the take the reins of the franchise’s future. But before Spurs fans can move on to the future, they’re forced to go through the nightmare that is this year’s Finals matchup of the Toronto Raptors (their first franchise appearance in the Finals) lead by former Spur, Kawhi Leonard, going up against the Golden State Warriors.
In a situation that could easily be called a breakup, Spurs fans are reminded of the heartbreak Kawhi Leonard brought them last off-season as he is appearing in his first Finals appearance, not in a black and silver uniform. A man who was going to be a star (already was) of the franchise, was seen a traitor as he turned his back on the franchise in requesting a trade in the off-season of 2018. In addition to the dread Spurs fans are already going through in these Finals, they also have to deal with the fact that the Golden State Warriors are making their fifth straight appearance in the Finals and looking to earn their third consecutive title. A feat that was last done by the 2000 to 2002 Los Angeles Lakers.
This is where the Spurs fan conundrum comes in to play. Do you cheer for the man who turned his back on the franchise or do you root for the superteam who is renownedly hated throughout the league? And when you ask Spurs fans around the realm this question, you get a wide array of responses as a result.
You do have fans like Chase Risman (@TexSR_Chase) who still have strong feelings following Leonard’s trade request. “Kawhi Leonard does not deserve to play for a championship a year after throwing the Spurs, city of San Antonio, and fans under the bus. I am rooting for the Golden State Warriors.” On the other side, you have guys like JP Mason (@TheReal_JPMason) who follows the overall opinion that he would rather not see the Warriors earn the three-peat “Raps. Kawhi is still a beast and I’d rather see him win another ring than see the Warriors three-peat. Another opinion going around is that of @ChrisRamon7 who brings an interesting perspective in that Leonard “is still a product of the Spurs regardless of who he plays for.” Lisette (@joceyluvbby) also brings up a unique in her decision: “I am choosing the Raptors over the Warriors for the reason that another team deserves to win. It would also be nice to see Kawhi get a little revenge on the team who kind of took him out when he was in a Spurs jersey.” @Spurs_Legacy gave their opinion saying that they’re “not necessarily opposed to Kawhi or the Raps winning a title”, they would prefer it’s not this year due to the drama swirling around Leonard’s uncle, Dennis Roberson’s latest interview as well as Danny Green’s (former Spurs who was sent to Toronto in the Kawhi trade) “constant need to bring up SA”. Then you have people who don’t even want to bother with both teams such as Wren Tello (@TheMightyWren); “Finals? What Finals? Seriously couldn’t give a crap less about either team at this point.”
When it comes to Kawhi overall, Spurs fans do all agree that they don’t think highly of him following the situation. But when it comes to cheering between him and the Warriors, you will not have two opinions that are the same. The NBA Finals begin on Thursday, May 30th in Toronto.
When it comes to my personal opinion on this subject of picking between Kawhi and the Warriors, I really had to think about it. While part of me still has a bad taste in my mouth from the whole Kawhi deal, the other side of me highly despises the Warriors. There are pros and cons to picking a side here and it’s based on personal opinions on the teams and the players. Yeah, Kawhi did the Spurs franchise and fanbase dirty in requesting the trade that knock the whole team out of whack, as well as having to force fans to watch their team trade away the guy who is arguably top five in the league right now. On the other hand, how the hell can you cheer for the Warriors? Do you, the fans, really wanna see Kevin Durant essentially sit on the bench to be given his third ring, as well as see DeMarcus Cousins be successful in his ring chasing adventure? Thinking about the snake himself earning a third ring was the turning point for me in who I decided to cheer for. I know many Spurs fans will oppose my thinking because everyone has their own opinion on this situation, but I also try to think in what’s good for the league overall.
The league could use the Raptors winning this championship over the Warriors winning it for a third straight time, and their fourth time in five years. Look at the Raptors franchise as a whole, outside of Kawhi. This franchise has some of the most dedicated fans in the league and these fans have gone through some rough patches throughout their existence. This is their first Finals appearance ever and they come in as underdogs against the injured, yet skilled Warriors team that has a vast amount of playoff experience. In addition to the Raptor fans, this Toronto team also has some league favorite guys in Marc Gasol and Kyle Lowry (lets also not forget the fact that Mr.Linsanity Jermey Lin is also on this Raptors team). Seeing those guys win a championship over watching Kevin Durant win his third was a major reason I swayed as well.
Overall in my decision, as much as it may sting to see Kawhi win a ring after turning his back on my franchise, I rather see him and other really good guys win then watch the Warriors waste away another season in the NBA.
For more NBA and San Antonio Spurs content, you can follow me on Twitter @TyJagerRadio. You can also find my Spurs based NBA Podcast , At The Line, on Twitter @AtTheLinePod or on AtTheLinePodcast.com