SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — In the third quarter of Game 7 of the NBA Finals, a San Antonio Spurs fan leaned over and whispered something in my ear.
A couple minutes earlier, he expressed discontent over two of LeBron James’ 37 points.
I expected another anti-Miami Heat comment, as I donned a villainous black James jersey. And I was, after all, at a crowded eatery in the middle of downtown San Antonio’s Riverwalk, known for its shops and restaurants along the river. A journalism conference brought this Miamian to Spurs nation.
Nonetheless, his remark caught me by surprise.
“It takes a lot of balls to come in this place with that jersey, kudos, man,” the fan said.
I must say it is odd taking in a defining Game 7 NBA Finals victory in what I would call the hornet’s nest. The sting of the San Antonio crowd on each made basket would easily diminish my fist pump or grunt on a Miami score.
However, despite some light criticism from a random passerby or intoxicated participant, the city of San Antonio and its fans showed a lot of sportsmanship on a night when their team would lose its first NBA Finals series in franchise history.
Moments after the Heat proved to be victorious once again, Spurs fans downtown blared horns — I can still hear them ringing in my ears — screamed and waved team flags like they just won the championship. Even in loss, they found joy.
The bar across the street from my hotel quickly had someone on a ladder change their signage: “We would like to congratulate the Spurs on a terrific season.”
As the city’s only major professional sports franchise, the Spurs represent a model of class in the NBA, fans included.
I, like other Heat fans, will have the memory of this Game 7 victory lodged in with the other memorable championship runs. But I’ll also remember spending it in the last place you would think a Heat fan would want to be, in the opponent’s den.
Only, it wasn’t half bad.
Anthony Cave is a Miami Herald intern and junior journalism student at Florida International University.