From the moment I came into this world I bled silver and black. Truthfully, I didn't have a choice in the matter as both my grandfathers made sure I would root for the right team. When I say both of them were fans, I mean diehard to the fullest extent. I remember watching games at my Pawpaw's house. He would sit in his chair and never move the entire game, yelling profanities at the screen when we weren't doing well or the refs were "cheating us." On the off chance he did have to get up to use the restroom, he didn't miss a second of the action since he had wireless headphones with 1200 WOAI streaming to them. My father's father, Grandpa Weber, was almost identical, sans the headphones. It was through them I learned about the history of the Silver and Black. From the electric energy of the Hemisphere Arena, to the undeniable scoring by the Iceman, I heard all the stories of team's past.
In 1999, when I was ten years old, Grandpa Weber passed away from lung cancer just before the Portland series. I remember my six year old brother jumping up and down in front of the TV yelling "win it for Grandpa! Win it for Grandpa!" as Sean Elliot sank the famous Memorial Day Miracle shot in game two. From that moment on, "Win it for Grandpa" became the family adage for the remainder of the magical 1999 Championship run. While Grandpa never got to witness his Spurs win a Championship, I have a feeling he somehow knew it was going to happen that year.
Pawpaw, on the other hand, lived another five years and had the privilege of seeing our Spurs raise the Larry O'Brian trophy twice. Seeing his face light up when the Spurs won is really indescribable yet unforgettable at the same time. Here's a man who has been through it all with the Spurs. Through all the hard times, the devastating playoff exits, all the "almost but not quite" seasons. Pawpaw passed away in November of 2004, just before the Spurs won the 2005 Championship.
When I watch the Spurs, I'm watching much more than a basketball team. Because of my Grandparents, I feel a certain connection with the team. Although both my Grandfathers are gone now, there's still a part of Grandpa Weber and Pawpaw that I can see every time the Spurs hit the court.
As well as the emotional family connection to the team, there's also a giant sense of pride while watching the classiest, most team oriented organization in the NBA. In the league where the name on the back of the jersey is most important to many, the Spurs know it's the name on the front that matters. This is why we see guys like Manu Ginobili take less money to come off the bench when he could have easily taken a big payday and started on any other team in the league. Why we see Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw trust in Pop when he says one of them needs to start over the other because the match up calls for it. It is selflessness like this that make me proud to be a Spurs fan.
Recently I have come to the realization that the big three era will be coming to an end. I watched the Spurs tribute video and found myself, a 26 year old man, with tears welting in my eyes and a lump in my throat as I wathced the most beautiful basketball anyone has ever wittnessed. I will truly be sad when I see Tim, Manu, Tony and Pop retire, and I'll probably even slip a few tears. But I know the next generation of Spurs will carry on the tradition that has been laid for them.
As I share my story of what the Spurs mean to me, I assure you there are many more like it. That's what makes this organization so special, so dear to so many. They are not just a team, they are our extended family. There are no fair wheather fans when it comes to the Silver and Black. This city loves its Spurs and always will. Thank you for being the roll models y'all are and the stand up organization you are. Thank you for being the Spurs.