Manu’s Bat, Kobe’s Tears, and Kerr’s Explosion: The People’s History of the San Antonio Spurs

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The San Antonio Spurs website has a section on it called “Key Dates in Spurs History.” It is what you’d expect, which is to say it’s a page of a bunch of moments that have happened in franchise history, but it’s also to say that many of them are snoozers — because the NBA is fun as a product, but it’s almost always super boring when it has to look at itself. The Key Dates thing includes a recap of the Spurs’ first professional game, the time they hosted an ABA All-Star Game, the time they beat Philadelphia in their first ever NBA game, the time they handed out some posters — things like that.

What’s missing are actual interesting things: moments Spurs fans still talk about because they remember experiencing them and liking them and feeling good about them. Things like these …

Manu Swats That Bat Out of the Air

It happened in 2009 in a game against the Kings. A bat got into the arena, then flew around the court and interrupted the game a couple of times. Manu smacked it clean out of the air, then celebrated the same way he does when he hits a 3-pointer. So much respect for you, Manu.

Also, watch DeJuan Blair. The bat flies near him and Blair ducks and squirms and jumps out of the way, because that’s what a normal guy does when he sees a bat flying toward him, because bats are goddamn disgusting. Look:


Imagine that flying at you. Gross. Nasty.

Bats are terrifying. Bats make every situation worse. There are zero instances when introducing a bat or multiple bats makes things better. They make good moments bad and they make bad moments worse. Imagine this: You’re at an ATM late at night. You’re getting money out. A man walks up behind you. He’s a mugger. He demands your money. He’s got a gun. Oh no. But guess what? It gets worse. Turns out, the man wasn’t a man. It was a giant bat wearing a trench coat. And guess what again? That gun he’s pointing at you, it doesn’t shoot bullets. IT SHOOTS BATS BECAUSE IT’S A SPECIAL BAT GUN BECAUSE EVEN BATS KNOW THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN A BAT IS MORE BATS.

You know who’s never been robbed at an ATM by a large, armed bat? Manu, I’m guessing. Add this to the Key Dates, NBA. “Oh, hey. Hello. What up, Bat? What’s that? You’re gonna rob me? It’s gonna be kind of hard to rob me after I smack the shit out of you, though, ain’t it?” Manu Ginobili is a stud.

Timmy Stares Down Dwight Howard in the Most HAHA GTFOH Way Possible

This happened in the 2013 playoffs during the half-hour when Dwight Howard played for the Lakers. It was so great because Dwight Howard is Dwight Howard, and it’s always funny to watch him toddler his way through adversity, but you also have to take that greatness and multiply it by an even greater amount of greatness because Tim Duncan only smiles, like, maybe twice a year. Catching one of them on camera is like finding a picture of Shaquille O’Neal in which both of his eyes are the same amount of open. Add this to the Key Dates, NBA.

The Spurs Make Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher Cry

May 2003. The Lakers had won three championships in a row, so they were carrying around a very deserved, very earned arrogance. Worse still, they’d beaten the Spurs on their way to winning two of those titles in 2001 and 2002. Even more bleak: The Spurs were 1-8 in those two series. I’d assumed they were going to get handled again, but apparently Tim Duncan had had enough of that bullshit. He obliterated them in Game 6 (37-16-4-2). It was so beautiful. So beautiful. But don’t put that in the Key Dates. Timmy has too many games like that to put them all in the Key Dates. What you put in there are those few seconds when, as the clock was playing itself off and the cameras were shooting around looking for shots of sad Lakers, they caught Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant crying. That’s what goes in there, NBA. Watching Kobe and Fish cry, it was like watching Kobe and Fish cry. You get it.

Timmy Hits the 3 Against Phoenix and He Celebrates So Hard

It was the first game of the 2008 playoffs. The Spurs had won the title in 2007, so they were trying to defend it, and that was neat, but they were also playing Phoenix, a team that had been pretending to be one of their rivals since around 2003, and that was even neater.1 The Spurs were down three in overtime with just a few seconds remaining. Manu drove in, then kicked it out to Timmy behind the line ON PURPOSE. It was the first 3 Duncan had made the entire season, if you can even believe that shit. The Spurs ended up winning the game in double overtime. It didn’t even matter, though. Nobody cares about the win now. It’s whatever. All anyone cares about from that night is Timmy’s post-3 celebration. Look at it. What beauty. What art. What poetry. The Spurs need to turn that moment into an animatronic statue and put it right in the middle of downtown San Antonio. But if that can’t happen, it should at least be in Key Dates.

Richard Jefferson Catches an Alley-Oop Dunk and Then Rides David Lee Like the Donkey He Is

The first time in franchise history someone dunked on an opponent and then tried to fight him afterward. Can’t tell me this isn’t more interesting than the day Red McComb bought the team. Red McComb never dunked on anybody, my dude. FOH, Red McComb. November 2010. Book it.

Bruce Bowen Legit Karate-Kicks Wally Szczerbiak in the Face

Indefensible. Also about a million percent funny. Key Date for sure.

Weird sidebar: This happened in March 2002. Bruce Bowen also kicked Ray Allen in March 2006, and kicked Chris Paul in March 2008. I’m not sure why he favored March for kicking, but I respect his dedication.

Less-weird sidebar: I coach a seventh-grade basketball team every fall, and I showed a couple of my players this clip on my phone. One of them asked incredulously, “You can do that?” I clicked pause. I looked him right in his eyes. And I said, “… Yes. Yes, you can.” That’s a little thing called teaching the fundamentals.

The NBA Uses Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones Pt. 2” for Its Spurs Playoff Commercial


This was the one single time in the history of the NBA that their marketing department made a pristine music selection, and it happened to my Spurs. Sometimes the universe is a real cool place. April 2012. Key Date, son.

Steve MF’ing Kerr Detonates

It was the 2003 conference finals. The Spurs were winning the series 3-2 but were losing the game by 65 points. Little Stevie Kerr came in, scored 95 points in a row, the Spurs went on to win their 15th NBA title in a row.2 Kerr’s whole fourth quarter was masterful. I’ve watched this game legit probably about 25 times.3

To be as specific as possible, the Key Date here is actually a Key Time. Watch Kerr from the 1:49 mark to the 2:36 mark in the video above, and if you can’t get YouTube at wherever you work, let me explain to you what happens: After being down 15, Kerr hits a 3 to tie the game, then plays defense on Steve Nash, then nearly forces a turnover, then nearly gets a steal, then plays defense on two separate people as they pass the ball around on the perimeter, then matches back up on Steve Nash before a screen puts Tim Duncan on him, then plays perfect help defense because he knows Nash is going to blow right by Timmy, then (and this is my favorite part) as the ball bounces off the rim and accidentally gets tipped back out toward Nash, and Kerr realizes it’s happening, he full-body dives to the ball and slaps it to Stephen Jackson, then gets up, then dribbles the ball up the court, then hits another 3 from the exact same spot of his previous 3, this time to give the Spurs a lead they never gave back. Steve Kerr till the death of me. Key Time, NBA.

Filed Under: NBA, Basketball, History, San Antonio Spurs, Tim Duncan, Richard Jefferson, Steve Kerr, Little Stevie Kerr, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Bruce Bowen, Manu Ginonbili, Bats

Shea Serrano is a staff writer for Grantland. His latest book, The Rap Year Book: The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1979, Discussed, Debated and Deconstructed, is a New York Times best seller and is available everywhere.

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