When these NBA Finals began, I had one friend who I knew to be a Spurs fan.
Paul is a die-hard. Grew up Texas. Latched onto San Antonio at an early age. Even though he lives in Oklahoma City now, he is sticking to his silver-and-black guns.
But in the past few days, I've discovered that Paul isn't my only Spurs-loving friend. I can't go on Facebook or Twitter without seeing folks who are pulling for San Antonio.
Spurs fans are popping up all over the place.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
I'm rooting for San Antonio, too, but not because I hate Miami.
I know there are plenty of folks pulling for the Spurs because it means pulling against the Heat. Hey, those guys down in Miami are easy to loathe. “Take my talents to South Beach”? The Heatles? “Not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven” championships?
The sense of entitlement can be nauseating.
And among Thunder fans, the idea of the Heat winning another title turns even more stomachs.
But none of that is why I'm pulling for the Spurs.
I'm a basketball fan, and if you love the game, it's hard not to cheer for San Antonio.
For starters, these guys are disciplined and intelligent. Players. Coaches. Management. Doesn't it seem like everyone in the Spurs organization has their stuff together?
On the court, the Spurs rarely beat themselves. They don't win every game, but when they lose, it's seldom because of self-inflicted wounds.
Rewind to last year's Western Conference Finals when the Thunder came back to beat the Spurs. San Antonio won the first two games of the series in dominating fashion, but in losing the next four, the Spurs didn't fall apart. They played pretty well, actually. The Thunder just played better.
If you love basketball, you appreciate teams that play smart. Limit turnovers. Make smart decisions. Play together.
No NBA team does those things better than the Spurs.
That starts with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, who had old souls even when they were young, but even members of supporting cast seem to mature when they're in a Spurs uniform. I mean, Danny Green wasn't supposed to be this good. Same for Kawhi Leonard or Gary Neal or just about every guy in a Spurs uniform.
The franchise just seems to be able to plug in different, often forgotten about players — Exhibit A, Boris Diaw — and continue to go on about its winning ways.
That's a credit, of course, to the players, but it's also a nod to the organization.
Gregg Popovich is a prickly curmudgeon, but the man can coach. Few are better with the Xs and Os. Or the development of players. Or the management of egos.
Granted, the former military man does so with a my-way-or-the-highway style, but hey, it works.
San Antonio's front office brass isn't all that different from Pop. Led by Oklahoma State alum and general manager R.C. Buford, the Spurs have a philosophy and they stick to it no matter what. Their goal is to have a playoff team every year. Period.
That means they spend within their small-market means. They refuse to mortgage the future for the present. They rely on player development over player acquisition.
Heck, even when the Spurs looked old against the youthful Thunder last season, they didn't deviate.
That was an offseason, you remember, when several of their Western Conference pursuers were revamping rosters. The Lakers snagged Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. The Clippers landed Chris Paul. The Nuggets got Andre Iguodala.
The Spurs' response?
They just stayed the course.
And here they are, back in the NBA Finals.
I know it has become trendy to cheer for the Spurs, so I guess I'm jumping on the bandwagon. But I'm not doing it because I hate the Heat. Miami obviously has great players, an outstanding coach and a successful system, otherwise it wouldn't be in the position to repeat as the champ.
Should the Heat prevail, it will be a worthy winner.
But I appreciate the way the Spurs go about their business. They are consistent. They are disciplined. They are smart.
So, go ahead and cheer for the Spurs because you hate the Heat if you must. I'm going to cheer for the Spurs because I actually like them.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.