Revolution 1 – “You say you got a real solution, well you know, we’d all love to see…” the fan. “You ask me for a contribution, well you know, we’re all doing what we can.” It is true. The San Antonio Spurs had not paid the electric bill for the power used at the AT&T Center in almost a year. However, this is not a story about a sports franchise that is too broke to pay its bills. This is a story that is much more inspiring than that. This is a story about an NBA owner standing up on principle against one of the most sinister types of people that exists in our American democracy: the braggadocious, crass, smack talking Miami Heat fan. Let me explain. To put everything in context, I’ll need to start with the NBA Finals Game 1 post game press conference; near the end of the story when San Antonio Spurs head coach and world renowned no-nonsense badass Gregg Popovich got involved by attempting to play peace-maker in a long running feud. Determined to help mediate a solution between Spurs Sports & Entertainment Chairman Peter Holt and CPS Energy President Doyle Beneby, late on Thursday night Coach Pop surmised, “Hopefully we can pay our bills.” Rewind to the beginning and we discover that Holt has been suspicious of Beneby ever since the latter’s arrival in San Antonio at CPS Energy in 2010. The reason for Holt’s suspicion is that Beneby, who earned a masters degree at the University of Miami – School of Business in 1996, just so happens to be an unapologetic Miami Heat fan. Ever since The Decision, Beneby had been flaunting his love of LeBron James and the Heat to Holt every time that these two titans of industry crossed paths. To make matters worse, when Holt invited Beneby to a meeting to discuss San Antonio’s energy future last summer (a few weeks after the 2013 NBA Finals), Beneby showed up for the meeting looking like this. When, during the meeting, Beneby made repeated references to the miracle working grace of Jesus Shuttlesworth’s corner three point jumper, it was the final straw for Peter Holt. Since that day, he had vowed to never pay another dime to CPS Energy (regardless of how many bills he received for the power supplying the AT&T Center) until Beneby apologized.
Beneby never offered the desired apology so Holt began to rack up past due notices on his CPS Energy bill month after month. Even though CPS Energy has an outstanding reputation for giving its customers ample time to catch up on payments before cutting their power, Beneby had grown increasing leery of Holt’s astronomical past due balance (which as of his June statement) had reached $3,274,895.65. The AT&T Center is a large building to power and Holt had not paid a bill since last July. Although Beneby would have been within his right to pull the plug on the AT&T Center power months ago, he decided to bide his time and wait for a great opportunity to do it when he could really embarrass Holt. On Thursday afternoon, Beneby knew he had just that type of opportunity and took action against Holt by cutting off the power supply for the AT&T Center’s cooling system. Rather than cutting power to the entire building, Beneby thought he could stick it to Holt even more by just cutting the power supply to the air conditioning system so as to embarrass him on the biggest possible stage, the NBA Finals. By just cutting power to the AC supply, Beneby cunningly predicted that the NBA would not cancel the event (which they would obviously be forced to do if the entire building was without power). Cutting only the AC supply, therefore, allowed Beneby to pursue the objective of embarrassing Holt in front of a global audience. Ironically for the CPS Energy President, as it turns out, he did not think his sinister plan all the way through because the person most affected by the lack of air conditioning in the building on Thursday night was Beneby’s beloved LeBron James. With James sidelined for the final four minutes due to heat exhaustion and muscle cramping, the San Antonio Spurs pulled away from the Miami Heat to take Game 1 of the NBA Finals 110-95. Having gotten the last laugh in the feud with Beneby (for now) and because he always makes it a point to heed the advice of Gregg Popovich (his most valued confidant), after the game Peter Holt found some spare change in his sofa cushions and paid his three and a quarter million dollar past due balance with CPS Energy. He also made a sizable donation to REAP. Now that his bill is current; CPS Energy has restored the electricity powering the air conditioning unit at the AT&T Center. theLeftAhead has reached out to Doyle Beneby for comment on his decision to cut AC power at the AT&T Center, but like any typical braggadocious, crass, smack talking Miami Heat fan, he was no where to be found and was not heard from after the loss. TMZ is reporting, however, that he has been spotted outside of LeBron James’ hotel room apologizing profusely and offering James a CPS Energy tote bag along with flowers and candy as an apology for his blunder.
All kidding aside, Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals produced an amazing story about heat for the basketball public to digest. Unfortunately, it is not the story about heat that is currently dominating the news. If you love basketball and haven’t been living under a rock these past couple of days, you are already well aware that Game 1 is being dubbed The Cramp Game and most of the analyses in its aftermath is being focused on LeBron James. Is it unfortunate that the air conditioning was broken and that the temperature in the building reached 90 degrees during the game? Yes, it is unfortunate. But what is getting lost in all of the hysteria surrounding the incident that made #LeBronning go viral Thursday night is who the real victims were of the unfortunate conditions. The players surely weren’t the real victims. They all played in the same conditions therefore the heat was not unfortunate for either team. The lack of air conditioning did not give one team an advantage over the other. As many of the players noted during postgame interviews, if you want to make it all the way to the NBA then at some point during your basketball development you are probably going to have to learn to play the game in heat. The lack of AC in the building did not cause LeBron’s body to shut down. It is something in his genetic makeup that predisposes him to this recurring problem that is to blame for him being the only player in the game that was not able to finish. Sure, you could argue that San Antonio benefited indirectly from the heat in the building because we are a deeper team than Miami. But our depth in the series is an advantage that we have regardless of the playing conditions. Also, winning an NBA Championship is supposed to be hard and requires having the ability to overcome adversity in the NBA Finals (however it presents itself). Miami has proven to have that ability for the past two seasons in a row (they lost Game 1 of the Finals both times and came back to win the series). Game 1 is just one game. They are more than capable of overcoming adversity and a 0-1 series deficit again. No one should be feeling sorry for LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Having key players affected by injuries and ailments is part of basketball. The lack of air conditioning in the building was not unfortunate for the Miami Heat. On this particular night, they just got beat.
The people that the lack of AC was actually unfortunate for were the Spurs fans attending the game at the AT&T Center. NBA Finals tickets are obnoxiously expensive and many basketball fans dream of the opportunity to attend an NBA Finals game. For some die-hard fans of modest means this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I know that I enjoyed every second of the NBA Finals game that I attended (Game 1 of the 2003 NBA Finals) because I knew that I might never get a chance to have that experience again. The uncomfortable temperature in the building was unfortunate for Spurs fans, especially the ones who were fulfilling a dream to attend their first and possibly only NBA Finals game, because they had to spend what should have been a magical evening in prolonged discomfort. These fans in particular, who had been waiting a lifetime for this opportunity, are the unfortunate victims of the malfunctioning AT&T Center air conditioning system. I contemplated purchasing tickets for Game 1 when they went on sale on Tuesday, but decided against spending the money. In retrospect, I’m glad that I watched the happenings at the AT&T Center from the comfort of my temperature controlled living room.
But, of course, the media has spent the past couple of days fixated on how the heat affected the Heat. This is disappointing because they are depriving themselves and their audience of an opportunity to celebrate an actual amazing story about heat in Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals. What the media should be covering is he hottest thing that was in the building on Thursday night: the fourth quarter offensive attack of the San Antonio Spurs. Over the course of the final quarter of play in Game 1, the San Antonio Spurs took a positive step towards Revolution 1: the art of teamwork perfected. The Spurs put on a masterful performance in the fourth, outscoring the Heat 37-16 in the period while overcoming a four point deficit entering the final frame. San Antonio overpowered Miami with our ball movement and precision shooting to blitz the Heat with 14-16 from the field in the period and an astounding 12 of the made baskets coming off of an assist. When it was all said and done, we had blown open the four point deficit that we were facing with six minutes left in the game into another comfortable 15 point home victory. How did this happen? It seems that Miami has a short memory because for some reason they forgot that Danny Green loves animals and Danny Green gets buckets. In the course of three minutes of play, Danny turned a terrible performance through the first three quarters and a half quarter around by erupting for 11 points off of three triples and one vicious dunk. As spectacular as Danny’s performance was in the final six minutes, it was not enough to put him into the running for player of the game honors. Here are some other Spurs players lines from Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals: Boris Diaw (2 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists), Tiago Splitter (14 points, 4 rebounds), Tony Parker (19 points, 8 assists), and Manu Ginobili (16 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 block). This was a complete team effort with each of these players worthy of player of the game honors but none of them were able to quite outshine the indelible Tim Duncan, aka Time’s Father. Timmy led the Spurs with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists and he is now just one double double away from tying Magic Johnson for the most in NBA playoff history. At age 38, his performance the other night was simply stated: spectacular.
While San Antonio had a vintage performance in Game 1 that seemed reminiscent of the old Boston Celtics teams, in both the way we shared the basketball and also in that playing a game without the air conditioning was a notorious Red Auerbach trick (enter conspiracy theorists stage left), we cannot let our guard down for even a split second. Miami is the two-time defending World Champions and, as stated earlier, they have lost Game 1 of the NBA Finals two years in a row and stormed back to win the series. Last year, we were in an even greater position than we are now after the first game considering that we stole that one on the road. We all know how that series turned out for us. The good news is that there is plenty for us to concentrate on in order to keep our focus. In fact, there is one blatant aspect of our Game 1 performance that we must improve upon drastically in order for us to have any hope of winning Game 2. We committed 22 turnovers in Game 1 which is like playing with a hornets nest against the Miami Heat; we were just asking to be stung. San Antonio is extremely fortunate that Miami was unable to capitalize on our turnovers (most of which occurred in the first three quarters) to blow us out of our own gym before our fourth quarter blitz was even able to develop. If we give LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and company another crack at that many turnovers, they will certainly make us pay. On each and every possession of the game tomorrow night, if I were a Spurs player, I would be looking left, looking right, and starin’ through my rear view before attempting each and every pass. I know that the ball has got to zip around the perimeter in order to capitalize on our precision offensive attack, but protecting the basketball against the Miami Heat is just as important. Their defense is built upon creating turnovers. If we do not turn the ball over, it will be extremely difficult for them to beat us, especially at home. We are the superior half court defensive team, we are the superior offensive team, and we are the deeper team. If the #BlackAndSilver protect the basketball tomorrow night like it is our essence then we can take another step towards Revolution 1: the art of teamwork perfected and our offense will remain the hottest thing in the AT&T Center.
Featured Image Source: Rolling Stone
Headline Image Source: SA Express-News
*The Peter Holt and Doyle Beneby depicted in this blog post are fictional.