They did! On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Spurs franchise in the city of San Antonio, the Texas club managed to bring 68,323 spectators to the Alamodome to break the all-time record for an NBA game. Trashtalk is there. Big story from inside this mythical room.
By Brieux Férot, in San Antonio
It’s Thursday night. The city is calm. A long giant train siren – 80 cars – wails through the night. A few meters away, trucks arrive with eclectic loads. In this massive hangar that is the Alamodome, an American football and concert hall wedged between a highway and a railroad, the scene has the flavor of the 90s. The Spurs were residents there from 1993 to 2002, in a room which is too large is then cut off. half of a very wide sheet. A strange fact in the NBA that didn’t stop them from building there, in 1999, was their first successful campaign against the Knicks. Then they joined AT&T – 18,581 seats – 3 miles away, and won 4 more NBA championship titles there.
It is an understatement to say that the date of Friday, January 13 was marked by the whole city in advance, in the middle of a sportingly complicated year: 13-29 before the in-between, the league’s smallest payroll by far and a youth in all training positions, but also in society: 8 major shootings in Texas in 13 years and a pre-season marked by the need to heal the wounds of a tragedy with 21 deaths, that of ‘ Uvalde in May 2022, a few dozen miles from San Antonio. Part of the team’s pre-season has been moved there, with plenty of practice time open to kids and families. “At Spurs we cannot be champions every year, we continue to cultivate young talents and we start to have new successes on the pitch but the most important thing for me and the community is the fact that the dynamics of the club is contagious: We are very proud of this team on and off the pitch. »
The person speaking is the mayor of the city and he is receiving in his office. Ron Nirenberg is clearly an assumed progressive, without a label, but pledged to his city by signing the Paris climate agreement, when President Trump strongly opposed it for the country. The first councilor of the city sees, on the night of this celebration, the end of a social process in which sports success is no longer enough: “Spurs is the gold standard of sports franchises, and I am proud that the club is representing the city of San Antonio, also international. “If the franchise has an influence that goes beyond the city itself, the fact remains that its sports dynasty has an impact unlike any other. In September 2021, the mayor “blocked” Drake on Twitter and made it known, because a collection signed by Ovo – the Canadian brand – released jackets in tribute to the great dynasties of the NBA that completely forgot the Spurs but included on this prestigious list … the New York Knicks!
On this day of celebration, mostly American families stream Spanish and reggaeton from the open windows of cars arriving at the Alamodome. Under the shining sun, four very long queues formed, from 2:30 pm The shirts of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, but also of David Robinson cling to the shoulders of Bruce Bowen, Devin. Vassell or the legend George Gervin. There are also plenty of “Coyote” jerseys flocking, the NBA’s craziest mascot. The safety cordon with the gate is the gateway to a kind of giant amusement park: on the esplanade, a stage set for the occasion, but also an inflatable basketball court, a sculpture stand on the ball, a souvenir truck and many photo call. The smells of weed, first outside the Alamodome and then inevitably inside, clashed with tacos, popcorn and other frozen margaritas!
In the middle of the building, the Spurs’ cramped dressing room at the time has been fixed, coach Poppovich’s with his exposed tactical plans, but also the players’, all in the 90’s sense of detail where a Gatorade gourd. rubbing the shoulders of the picture of the Admiral reading… Mondial Basket. In the room, the 5 titles are on display, and the line is long to get their picture next to them as a family. Avery Johnson spends time with younger supporters, who ask him to sign their shirts, often on the advice of their fathers. Suddenly, a scream: Chef Curry arrives and begins his work, hooded and relentless.
Sean Elliott prepares to comment on the meeting: “I arrived early today, and the atmosphere is electric, there is a lot of love emerging, half the city is mobilized, I think it will be very noisy. As a rock star, Tony Parker arrived courtside with crew and children, a dozen people, to the delight of supporters cheering him on, when Manu Ginobili chose to hide in his dressing room: he obviously saluted the room in a strict captured on the big screen after wall-shaking “Manuuuu” cheers. Physically. After Chairman RC Buford circled his hosts, the Warriors, and extolled their former glories one by one, the mood lifted after the teams returned to the locker room.
The more official arrival of the Warriors was, for the fun of the day, simply booed and booed. Smiling. But without messing around. The warm-up is done in a crowd where everyone is looking for their place, before the countdown begins: the room is plunged into darkness, lit only by the lights of smartphones. Powerful basses launch waves of light: to the tune of “Yo, ready for it? During the Spurs’ heyday in the 90’s, Tre Jones was the team’s choice to speak. “I think it made them laugh, and then, I think I’m slowly becoming one of the leaders of this team! “, he will confess in a press conference tonight. Its purpose? A few whispers and above all, a “Go Spurs Go!” to start the battle. The match can begin.
The game? Not really a match, at least, without any surprises because the rise of the Warriors was felt from the first seconds of the meeting, in the rhythm, in the systems, the lack of difference in intensity regardless of the rounds that Warriors side. The big fleet led by Steve Kerr, who was applauded before the start of the match, is gaining momentum. An in-between to forget – two off-beat jumps; nameless ugliness. The start of the first quarter, which was expected to be difficult immediately, dampened all hopes, the gap from 4-8 to 4-18 in a few minutes. Sighs, that, despite a Coyote at work on his mini-motorcycle across the field. Song of the day? “Defense! though it’s not the Texans’ specialty this season. Romeo Langford tries to hold the house at the beginning of the match, the Spurs have to do violence to stop the attacks of the Splash brothers at the end of the first quarter (28-33). The second quarter ended with Draymond Green raising his arms to the sky after a lay-up on the counterattack. In the first period, we also saw a fan electrify the room with a toss-up game, a TP cheered wildly, a more confident Tre Jones and the Spurs taking on water (-14, 60- 74 at break). A half-time when he didn’t even rest, fueled by the unlikely duo of the city’s 90s hip-hop group, the picaresque Tag Team.
The rest of the game was one sided. An air ball by Chef Curry was given a standing ovation, Zach Collins and Draymond Green collided without the video actually deciding between them. A new Splash Brother duo was born, in the guise of Donte Divincenzo and Jordan Poole, who would finish the match with 25 and 22 points respectively. In a second half in which Becky Hammon and Tony Parker chatted non-stop, André Iguodala finished with a brutal dunk and a flash counterattack and some courtside supporters left the area to escape the night, when Isaiah Tony the same time to pick up a few minutes to show off. But it was the MC of the day, Tre Jones, who would finish as the Spurs’ top scorer with 21 points. Final score 113-144, and a 31 point difference. Reverse fireworks.
The main record of the day therefore remains 68,323 people present. This was announced in the last quarter by Admiral Robinson himself, who provoked on arrival on the floor a tremendous applause, after a round of 5 minutes of successive “ola”. Yes, “ola”. Two other “records” in this meeting, which show the difference: 8 players at + 10 points for the Warriors, a first in the era of Steve Kerr, and very bad news for the Spurs: the 144 points in this bag are representing the most points the Spurs have conceded in the Alamodome in 354 games played in the enclosure. The generation of Curry jerseys, also present in the spans, therefore took revenge.
One last Mexican tune sung in unison ended the night before families joined the stage set up outside for a 100% “90’s” set. “It seems that the fans appreciated it, finally, more than us,” Gregg Popovich laughed at a press conference. We understand why they (the Warriors) are NBA champions, they did the things they should have done better. “Are Spurs disturbed in the stands? “No, no, our job is to focus on the basketball court. For Tre Jones, the popular enthusiasm remains the event of the night: “Traffic jams, mobilization in the streets: no other city with an NBA team can do it on this scale”, he summarized. . A Tre Jones now, with 20 points and a lot of confidence, is assumed to be “one of the leaders” of a team without a leader. If only Doug McDermott assumed that really vibrated – “I was stressed to see all these legends – Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Avery Johnson, Sean Elliott, David Robinson and Becky Hammon -, in the stands. “, Keldon Johnson knows who the big winner of the night is: “The Spurs fan base is bigger than anything you can imagine. “His primary school coach even came to see him for this match, but he was unable to meet him. In the end, a defeat that was hard to swallow in front of so many relatives? “Let’s say it hurts me more to not have played a playoff game yet,” he said fatalistically.
Outside, fireworks are fired from the park of the Tower of Americas, the architectural symbol of the city, in front of this giant room that will now remain the scene of a night of sharing and smiles. And also a tribute: what the city offered to the incredible talent of a Gregg Poppovich and his team, who allowed each of the players, coaches and supporters to cross their path, to realize their maximum potential. . If San Antonio were a Catalan city, Spurs would still be covered and would always be “more than a club”. They remain silent and are a constant source of inspiration for the country and for the league.
Photo credits: Brieux Férot