Austin fans are hooked…There’s no turning back with the Spurs

Spurs ownership could not have scripted this moment any better: playing its first regular season game in Austin, the Spurs rallied to beat the Portland Trailblazers… in a thriller… 129-127 at a sold-out Moody Center.


Keldon Johnson grabbed a mic to address the crowd as it was leaving, “We love you, Austin!” and then thanked San Antonio fans who traveled up I-35 to make the trip. I had to witness it for myself. Upper-level seats. Watching the game with my nephews.


There was suddenly a buzz inside the Moody Center that was not there at tipoff. In fact, for most of the game, I noticed how indifferent the crowd was towards our Spurs. Many were there for the curiosity factor. I talked with a family in my section. The father told me it was a last-minute decision to buy tickets. He’s not a Spurs fan, though he admitted to watching them play once at the AT&T Center. Thursday’s game was simply a night out for the family. Something different to do.


Midway through the fourth quarter, the arena started to resemble the good old days at the AT&T Center… when San Antonio fans packed the arena. Chants of “Go Spurs Go!” and “Defense!” rocked the Moody Center. Spurs down 9 points with just over 5 minutes to go. I looked at my nephew Jacob and predicted, “Spurs are winning this game. This has storybook ending written all over it.”


Here’s what followed: Zach Collins dunk. Keita Bates-Diop knocked down 2 free throws. Then back-to-back-to-back three pointers by Keita and Tre Jones. The Moody Center erupted!


After the game, you could feel the buzz in the air – People talking about wanting to come back for Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. First impressions mean a lot. And, Thursday’s victory was one hell of an impression.


As I walked out of the arena, I asked people where they were from. Several told me San Antonio – like me, they had to experience an Austin game for themselves. Others told me: Austin, Round Rock, and even as far north as Temple.


The Spurs have reassured San Antonio the team is not leaving the Alamo City. They just want to increase the team’s regional footprint, by creating a larger fan base. Thursday’s thrilling victory likely won over several fans.


After watching last night’s game in person, I know one thing’s for sure: Pandora’s box is open. We are sharing this Spurs team with Austin for years to come, whether we like it or not. Austin got a taste. And now, they’re hooked.


What do you think about the Spurs playing regular season games in Austin? Reach out to Michael on Twitter @MikeESPNSA. You can listen to him on “Jimenez & Spence” weekdays from Noon to 3 p.m.

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