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San Antonio defies odds, win series without two best players

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By RYAN BRUS

I absolutely love sports. They’re fun to play and watch because they bring out your competitiveness and passion. And best of all, when your team triumphs over seemingly unsurmountable odds, you get that difficult to describe feeling of exhilaration and pride.

Well, thanks to my San Antonio Spurs, I got that feeling May 11.

The Spurs were locked into a back-and-forth series with their Western Conference semifinal opponent, the Houston Rockets. So, when it was announced the Spurs’ top player and arguably one of the NBA’s top five players, Kawhi Leonard, was not going to play in game 6 May 11 due to an ankle injury, the collective sports world seemingly wrote off the Spurs. And why not? After all, the Spurs were also without their longtime starter at point guard, Tony Parker, due to injury. And of course, the Rockets are a talented team across the board as well with an NBA top five player of their own in James Harden.

The Rockets were already favored to win game 6 at home by six points, but Vegas odds jumped to nine points once Leonard’s status was known. Admittedly, I, too, thought the series was probably over and pondered whether it would even be worth watching the game because it likely wouldn’t just be a loss, but rather a massacre. Well, I watched. And it was, by sports definition, a massacre. But it was my Spurs that were victorious, trouncing the Rockets by 39 points and knocking them
out of the playoffs as a kicker.

The anguish and disappointment I was expecting to be filled with that night turned out instead to be that rare feeling of pure exhilaration and pride. I shouldn’t have let the sports pundits and bad news about Leonard shake my confidence, though. Lesson learned (I hope, anyway).

The outcome of this game also made me wonder about all that could possibly go into whether a team wins or loses.

Some thoughts touched on:

n Handling adversity

n Being patient

n Increasing aggressiveness

n Staying positive and trusting of the process

n Maintaining respect for opponents and fighting overconfidence in oneself

n Thriving in pivotal moments

n Being selfless

n Practicing efficiently and effectively

n Believing in your team

n Handling/responding to changing circumstances

n Harnessing life and sports experiences to effect positive outcomes

n Blocking out “noise”

n Maintaining quality family life and friendships

n Staying disciplined in all areas, including outside of sports

n Motivating, inspiring and instilling confidence in teammates

n Making sound adjustments to take advantage or your strengths and exploit opponent weaknesses

The bottom line is that statistics and the “eyeball test” simply don’t determine all future outcomes; there is opportunity to triumph over seemingly unsurmountable odds if the necessary time and effort is spent honing the intangibles. I suppose this is why the old sports adage “that’s why they play the game” continues to remain relevant despite all of the data at our fingertips and sports analysts on our digital screens.

Here’s to hoping each of us has that moment when we achieve something few people thought were possible.

Go Spurs Go! n