On Nov. 11, the San Antonio Spurs hosted the Chicago Bulls at the At&T Center for Military Appreciation Night. Hundreds of Spurs fans flooded the halls an hour and a half before tipoff. A sea of black and silver jerseys with a sprinkle of the visiting team’s jerseys were visible in every direction.
Fans arrive early to catch their favorite player practice to possibly get an autograph or picture. But for other San Antonians, it’s like a family reunion.
Attend a Spurs game, and visitors will see families wearing matching jerseys, taking pictures in front of the team’s five championship trophies, and just sharing a good laugh with one another.
All types of fans can be spotted around the arena, from the casual fan who wears their favorite T-shirt and hat to fans dressed in elaborate costumes. They’re all there to support their home team.
For many residents, the team and the city go hand in hand. One doesn’t exist without the other. Both reflect a culture built on hard work, community involvement and humility.
The Spurs have built a culture within its organization that has spread throughout the entire city. “Spurs Family” was a slogan used seasons ago and it has taken on a whole new meaning since then.
Fred Carrasco, a four-year season ticket holder, attends every game wearing unique attire. Carrasco puts on a silver and black serape with a decorative sombrero attached with miniature landmarks, such as the Tower of the Americas, and similar decorations. He has dubbed himself, “Spurachi.”
One reason he loves the team is because of how they react to fans at autograph signings.
The team, he says, is very open during signings and treats fans as if they are part of the team. The players will make it a point to have a conversation with you.
“Growing up, I didn’t have a father figure. I could always see them no matter what,” Carrasco said. “Their work ethic is top notch.”
Carrasco says San Antonio’s close knit family-oriented culture is one of the reasons the city is so connected to the Spurs.
While Carrasco can be called a “super fan”, the arena hosts another group that has been part of the team’s tradition since the beginning.
A group of fans, known as “The Baseline Bums” were notorious in the NBA for making opponents unhappy in the past. From throwing avocados at Denver Nuggets head coach in the 1970’s to waving melted vinyl records when Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s jazz record collection was lost in a fire, the Bums have been all but quiet.
The change in demeanor for the group of super fans has matured with change in culture and rules. The Bums no longer taunt their opponents in a brash manner, but are far from silent during the game.
The group still yells at the top of their lungs and makes noise with objects such as clappers and cowbells.
Peggy Dickerson, 10-year season ticket holder, is part of the infamous group.
Dickerson says the games are her social life and knew instantly she wanted to be part of the group when she first attended a game nearly a decade ago.
She said for the group, it’s personal. They feel as if the team are their children. She said watching the Spurs is like watching your kids and grandkids play in high school. You make as much noise as you can and cheer them on to victory.
“No matter where you sit, even if you sit all the way at the top, being here is like a family reunion,” she said.
Many know Coach Gregg Popovich uses a quote from Jacob Riis to instill in his players appearing on posters.
“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”
Like the city, the team is made up of players from around the world. Because of this Coach Pop has this quote in the hallways of the team’s locker room, in each player’s native language.
“The Spurs mean everything; they are the heart of San Antonio,” Carrasco said.