Few things are more difficult for a sports fan than rooting for a rival. Even when that rival's victory could help your team, it feels uncomfortable wishing they would win. For Rockets fans, that means teams like the Jazz, the Lakers, the Mavericks and the Spurs are absolutely off limits when it comes to any kind of rooting interest. This is especially true of the diehard fans who grew up in Houston.
When it comes to the Spurs, it's even tougher. San Antonio and its one major sports franchise have four titles. Houston and its three major sports franchises have only two. To make matters tougher, those two titles belong to the Rockets and at least one came at the direct expense of the Spurs.
It's a tough, heated rivalry, and fans, for the most part, don't really care for each other. So why am I rooting for the Spurs this year?
5. San Antonio isn't Dallas.
I really have to bite down on something and swallow hard to root for the Mavericks. Same goes for the Cowboys. But this is San Antonio. It only has one franchise. It doesn't feel like a rival to Houston as a city, but it is a nice place to visit. With Dallas, there is just plenty to dislike, so trying to cheer for them is like applauding a douchey frat guy when he punches an even douchier frat guy in the face. It's sort of a victory, but I still feel like I need to take a shower and wash my mouth out with hydrogen peroxide.
4. A victory for the Spurs is a win for the little guy.
Even though Houston is the fourth largest city in America, our sports teams are often treated like also-rans. Ditto the Spurs. In fact, it is worse for San Antonio because, for over a decade, it has had arguably the best franchise in the NBA, yet no one seems all that interested. They find the Spurs boring and their signature star, Tim Duncan, to have no personality. Another win for them would solidify their run as one of the truly great ones in NBA history. As much as I hate to see that from a rival, I appreciate how important it is that teams from smaller markets get in the spotlight.
3. The lesser of two evils.
Let's face it, the Heat are annoying. From Pat Riley's greased-down mop to LeBron's "decision," there is much to dislike about the reigning champs. Honestly, when watching them, the only one I really pull for is Dwyane Wade, and if I am being completely forthcoming, it is hard not to be mesmerized by James and his abilities. But that's not enough to get me to like them.
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2. Doing things the right way.
Whatever you may think about the Spurs, this is a model franchise. We should be so lucky as to emulate them. Their talent is homegrown. Their coach is exactly the right mix of father figure and a-hole. Their players are understated and were often underdogs when they started. None of them get into trouble or act like jerks on or off the floor. If that's boring, I respect the hell out of boring.
1. Texas forever.
The immortal words from Friday Night Lights still echo for me because, well, Texas forever. I'll always pull for a team from my home state over another, even if I want to see them lose every time by 50 and be utterly humiliated when they play a team from Houston.