For this week, the story I chose to read circled around sports fandom, as David Christopher Galindo wrote about the rise and impact of San Antonio Spurs fans in “Spurs Fandom in San Antonio.”
“He elaborated that opponents were envious of the support the Bums provided and wished they had a “Big George” of their own.” (Galindo 2022)
The words being paraphrased in this quote are of Spurs legend George Gervin’s, who is praising the very fanbase that he played for during his eleven years in San Antonio. Gervin acknowledged the impact the Baseline Bums and the rest of the Spurs fanbase had on the team. On top of that, Gervin even connected with one of the Bums’ key members–George Valle–to the point where they built a friendship that lasted for decades. This all speaks to the ability for a fanbase to support their team in a way that it is felt by the players, so much so that they relay their gratitude back towards the fans and connect with them at a more intimate level.
“At first, Brown’s words seemed harmless, but the Bums’ behavior may indicate how supporters felt the legitimacy and importance of their team, city, and selves was in question.” (Galindo 2022)
This quote is referring to the incident where the Baseline Bums threw avocados at Denver Nuggets head coach Larry Brown for saying that the “only good thing about San Antonio is the guacamole salad.” As the quote mentions, those words were not meant to cause harm; but those words came at a time when Spurs fans were fighting to build a reputation for Spurs basketball, its fanbase, and the city of San Antonio. That incident demonstrated the passion that the Baseline Bums displayed in their early years; and it set an example as to how far a fanbase will go to defend–not just their team–but also their city. Even when the Spurs had only been around for two years in San Antonio, it was events like this that showcased the Baseline Bums’ behavior and propelled the Spurs and San Antonio onto the national stage.
“Valle explained the Bums’ autonomy in HemisFair Arena afforded them the opportunity to agitate opponents, influence the outcome of games, and fraternize with the Spurs and their opponents, but with each change of venue that influence and those relationships dissipated.” (Galindo 2022)
HemisFair Arena is widely credited for why the San Antonio Spurs still exist today; as it then helped its fanbase grow towards being one of the most passionate and impactful in ABA and NBA history. But as Valle describes in the quote, that departure from HemisFair dealt a blow to Spurs fans, as it soon introduced ticket price increases and regulation in fan behavior for the Alamodome, both of which bringing an end of an era for Spurs fandom. The image below is from last month’s game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors, taking place inside the Alamodome in celebration of the Spurs’ 50th anniversary. The game was played in front of 68,323 fans, which broke the NBA record for single-game attendance (Baer 2023). While the Alamodome is not as inclusive of a stadium that HemisFair once was, this turnout from Spurs fans–especially in a down year for the team–demonstrates how far the fanbase and the city of San Antonio has come since their basketball team was first established fifty years ago.