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Sport is a funny thing. Beginning in grade school, it is all about learning the game and teamwork. Moving into high school, the focus changes to development; becoming stronger, faster, and smarter. At the collegiate level, fine-tuning the game in preparation for the pros is paramount. Those few, who finally make it to the big show, are rewarded by taking everything they have learned, and flushing it right down the pooper.

Part of being a professional is taking personal responsibility. I’m sick and tired of listening to players, coaches, and fans blaming the refs for all their losses. I’ve been there. The last person I want officiating a Spurs-Lakers game is Joey Crawford, but if the good guys execute, Crawford doesn’t matter. Phil Jackson just ate a $35,000 fine for blaming their recent loss to the Spurs on the referees. Zen Master, go do some yoga and get control of yourself! The Lakers didn’t lose the game because of the officials; they lost because the Spurs executed their game plan. San Antonio played more than half of that game without a point guard; give your opponents some credit!

Consider Exhibit B, Kevin Garnett and baby-in-crime Paul Peirce. During a post game press conference following a tough loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, both children pouted their way through the interview. Neither one looking up from the table, nor did they address the actual issue; they are not the team they used to be. Take a look at the clip: (There is some language)


I’ve seen that face before. Oh yeah, my two year old. Take a page from the Spurs’ playbook fellas, “We didn’t execute tonight. The other team played great. We have a lot of work to do, but we will make it happen.” I guess they think they are Paris Hilton, entitled! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not under the illusion that Spurs players are somehow above reproach, but at least they can get through an interview without saying “um” and “like” a hundred times.

Character is another key ingredient for true professionalism. This is more than just community involvement; it extends to on the court conduct as well. I cannot remember the last time I got through a basketball game without someone throwing up a gang sign, getting in another players grill, or just mouthing off. Part of being a Spurs fan is enjoying the relative bliss of having players living here that do not seem bent on burning the entire city to the ground. Many characterize it as soft, boring, and unemotional. If the only argument people can come up with against the Spurs, is they complain too much, I’ll take it. Heaven forbid Tim Duncan raise his hands in bewilderment when he doesn’t agree with a call. Kobe and LeBron are labeled as being “passionate” when they plead their cases to an official. The Spurs let their game do all of the talking. In the losses the talk is weak, but this last week’s victories speak loud and clear, “We will not go quietly!”

Maybe it is time we hold athletes to a higher standard. Moves in the NBA and NFL recently show signs both are headed in the right direction. As a father of four, I am happy to know, when I take my children to a Spurs game I won’t need to worry about them getting attacked by a raging player. When I see George Hill in the local Target, I can stop and shake his hand, and I know he will return the gesture. David Robinson is not only a recognized name in San Antonio, but is now the standard for NBA excellence. Since 2003 players in the NBA have been awarded the “David Robinson Plaque” recognizing success in building stronger communities. Michael Vick, Gilbert Arenas, and Plaxico Burress were uncommon athletes, but now are nothing more than common criminals. Here in San Antonio it is nice to know the pros still out-weigh the cons.


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