What We Learned from the Spurs loss to the Nuggets


We’re all very lucky we get to watch this. Not even just as Spurs fans. I’m talking like, as basketball fans. As Sports fans. As Human beings. We’re getting to watch something great unfold right in front of our eyes. It’s like watching the Grand Canyon take shape in real time. It’s not the first time this kid has left me at a loss for words and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Most of the conversation around Victor right now has, frankly, very little to do with him. It’s all about the supporting cast. The people that are there right now and the people that aren’t. The people who might be there in the future and the people that won’t be. I’m as guilty of it as anyone. I can’t stop thinking about how to build around him and what kind of pieces they need to get. The actual basketball in front of my face often feels secondary to to the hypothetical games coming down the pike

One of the coolest things about Victor is that he doesn’t seem to care about any of that. Sure, maybe he’s got plans and dreams and hope for the future, but he also seems extremely locked in on the now. He’s mad. He’s fired up. He doesn’t care about the context or the bigger picture, only about the game right there in front of his face. He wants to take that game and wrestle it into submission. He doesn’t want to win in the future, he wants to win right now.

From a narrative perspective, you can see how that could get misconstrued for impatience. The Spurs need to speed up their time line. The Spurs can’t afford to wait around. I hear it and I get it. But I don’t think that’s what this is. Victor is smart enough to hold two thoughts in his head. He can walk and chew gum at the same time. He can be aware of the bigger picture without sacrificing the competitive fire that’s driving him to be great in the first place.

This game last night against Nuggets really crystalized that for me. The season is, basically, over. Victor has accomplished pretty much everything he set out to do this year. He’s taking on the reigning NBA champs and the best player in the world. His two best running mates were just put on ice for the rest of the year. This game was nothing. This game was primed to be forgotten from history. No one would have batted an eye if Victor came out, went through the motions, and kept on sailing into his impossibly bright future.

But he didn’t want that. He didn’t care that the likes of Malaki Branham and Devante Graham were in the foxhole with him. He didn’t care that the odds were impossibly stacked against him. None of that seemed to matter. Victor looked at his teammates and said, “Let’s ride.” He fought and he battled and he raised the floor of all the guys out there. He made the game easier for them. He did everything in his power to get this motley crew across the finish line and he seemed genuinely surprised that he couldn’t quite get them there. No one asked him to do this. No one needed him to do this. It’s just the way he’s wired.

Victor seems keenly aware that the only thing he can really control is himself. It’s his effort, his talent, and his attitude. He holds the reigns on those things and everything else is chaos. He also seems keenly aware that those things happen to be immensely powerful when it comes to on court success. So he’s going to push it and he’s going to test limits and he’s going to go full tilt every single time he steps on the floor.

We’re lucky. We’re incredibly fortunate that he’s here and we’re here and we all get to go through this together. Sometimes it’s difficult to wake up after a loss with a smile, but it’s hard to feel like the Spurs are doing anything but winning at the moment.

Takeaways:

  • Multiple times last night the camera caught Nikola Jokic shrugging his shoulders and smiling after Victor would do one of his magic acts out there. Then he would come down the court and nonchalantly continue to dominate anyway like he always does. He seems impossibly likable in a way I wouldn’t have thought he could be a couple of years ago. He’s so good and he’s so chill and he’s so…unflappable? I don’t know why that’s endearing because in the wrong hands his whole deal could definitely be annoying. Anyway. I like watching him.
  • Pray to whatever basketball gods you believe in that we get to see some cool playoff battles between these two squads in the future. That feels like one of those things the universe needs to deliver on for the good of…I dunno, humanity?
  • What a fun display from Malaki Branham. 24 points and generally looking like he’s been out there in the starting lineup doing this kind of stuff all year. It’d be easy for some of these guys like Malaki and Julian Champagnie and Devonte Graham to feel intimidated being asked to step up in a spot like this and it’s fun to see them go out and play with a lot of confidence.
  • Tre Jones is good. He’s good! I’m a believer! I know that a lot of Spurs fans have come around on the idea of Tre sticking around as a piece in the future but I want to keep shouting it from the rooftops. He’s good. He’s good! I’d be pretty bummed if he wasn’t a part of the picture moving forward. He’s good!

WWL Post Game Press Conference

Well, we’re getting close to the end of the season here. Anything you feel like you need to get off your chest?

– I…don’t think so? Chest is feeling pretty clear this year. Lot of takes got out of the oven. Lot of feelings got felt. Lot of ideas pushed into the world. Yea, I think we covered a lot.

– Anything you regret?

– I have never regretted a single thing I’ve ever said and I never will.

– That seems like a bold choice.

– Happiness is the wisdom to know you can’t be right all the time unless you truly believe that it doesn’t matter.

– What?

– Ok maybe I regret that one.



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