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It is hard to believe that 20 years have passed, but 1998 seems like it was just yesterday. That year, I had moved to San Antonio after having lived in Montana for a while, and I was not happy. I was 23 years old and I felt my life was over, for it had no discernible direction. Thoughts of an academic career had not yet entered my mind.
Amidst all the uncertainty, I found a source of joyful escapism: the local hometown professional basketball team, the San Antonio Spurs. After a months-long delay due to a disagreement between league management and players, the 1998-99 NBA season got underway in January 1999, and questions abounded regarding who would succeed the Chicago Bulls as league champions, Michael Jordan and company having either retired or signed on with other teams.
Few gave the Spurs much of a chance of even making a championship run, much less winning one. But win they did, and many a Spurs fan can recall the moment when the Spurs went from contenders to champions: the Memorial Day Miracle.
And the winning continued. The Spurs followed their 1999 championship with a second in 2003, a third in 2005, a fourth in 2007, and then a fifth in 2014, when they avenged a loss in the previous year’s NBA Finals over the LeBron James-led Miami Heat.
But then something went wrong. The head coach of the Spurs, Gregg Popovich, not content to enjoy his now-legendary status as a winner of multiple league titles, began engaging in political punditry. As the kids say, he got woke. Popovich has referred to America as “an embarrassment” for electing Donald Trump, whom he has called a “soulless coward.” A day doesn’t seem to go by that he doesn’t make some snide remark about the President and his supporters.
Is that what he really thinks of me and others who vote as I do? Does Popovich not realize that many of the Spurs’ most ardent fans likely voted for Trump? Does Spurs Sports and Entertainment (the company which owns the franchise) endorse his remarks?
Well, as we used to say in my Cold War-era youth, it’s a free country. And America still is, despite the naked desire of the left to render it otherwise.
Long ago, one of our Founding Fathers observed that “in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another.” This is one of those times. Besides, there’s always college basketball.