The Rodeo Road Trips
A great deal of mythology surrounds San Antonio’s annual Rodeo Road Trip. The road trip, we’re always told, is a time of bonding for the team and serves as a kind of phone booth for the Spurs’ Clark Kent wardrobe change.
The Spurs’ tendency to peak late in the season has more to do with past success on the RRT than the trip itself. If the Spurs went rodeo in December, a cloud of dread would hover above the fan base. Suicide rates would rise in San Antonio and ESPN’s Trade Machine would break from an abundance of attempts to move Tony Parker elsewhere. Curse all that road-going. Curse it.
If anything the RRT should be a time to celebrate Gregg Popovich’s remarkable dedication to pacing the Spurs. If the NBA season is a marathon, Gregg Popovich is a full-blooded Kenyan.
The Spurs are 42-8. Tim Duncan is playing only 29 minutes per game. The Spurs are 42-8. Tim Duncan is playing only 29 minutes per game. The Spurs are 42-8. Tim Duncan is playing only 29 minutes per game. There is a post about Gregg Popovich in there somewhere, I can feel it.
But Popovich would never say it. And if you say it near him he’s more likely to rue your existence than dignify the suggestion with any form of credit-taking. “It’s not me, it’s the team” is his mantra from first to last. He’s just the loafing oaf who lucked his way into Tim Duncan.
Every season there is some reason to question the RRT mythology. Here’s one way to de-myth the proceedings this year: the Spurs actually have two rodeo road trips this time around the sun. After San Antonio’s defeat of the Kings on Friday night, they returned home for three days of rest before beginning what is really an entirely different road trip. Basically, they had a west coast trip and will, later this afternoon, leave for Detroit to begin an Eastern swing.
Six games in 10 days is not a cakewalk, and it represents a challenge to the Spurs no matter how one slices it. If the Spurs finish 5-1 or 4-2, they’ll have done well, even while facing some of the league’s least impressive teams. I’m not trying to diminish any such achievement. I’m just saying it has little to do with what we call the Rodeo Road Trip. There are other factors in play that demand our consideration.
This is not the story of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty leaving from New York to San Francisco, with little time for anything more than slipping into a epic moment of genius. It’s not that at all. It took Ernest Hemingway 10 years to complete A Farewell to Arms. This is something like that.