HANG TIME, Texas — Before heading out the door to the airport for the start of the Spurs’ annual Rodeo Trip that will them away from the AT&T Center until Feb. 27, the inimitable Stephen Jackson told reporters that he had to pick up a few things that probably won’t fit into his suitcase.
“I’m going to ride down there today and see if I can get me some (turkey legs),” said Capt. Jack. “That’s the best part: The food. If you can smell a little manure a little bit you can eat good. You’ve got to be able to take a little doo-doo. There’s a lot of it around there.”
OK, so never mind the home cooking. Historically, the Spurs have often been most well-done on the road, especially at rodeo time.
Even though they’ll open the nine-game journey that straddles the All-Star break tonight in Minnesota without Tim Duncan (sore left knee), the Spurs are giddy that their big man wasn’t seriously hurt when the Wizards’ Martell Webster rolled into the back of his legs on Saturday night.
“Five tough games before the All-Star break and we’ll see how Timmy is gonna be in the next couple of days and see if he can come back at least in the second half of that trip,” said Tony Parker.
“It’s always fun to go on the Rodeo Trip. That’s when we jell and come together as a team. The last couple of years Pop wanted to start early and jell early. Two years ago I think we had a lot of home games so we tried to have a fast start. But usually we use the road trip to play better basketball.”
The Spurs can hardly play much better than right now. They have a 10-game winning streak, the NBA’s best record (38-11) and are already a league-best 16-9 away from home.
In the 10-year history of the Rodeo Trip, the Spurs are 54-28 and have gone at least .500 every time. Last season, the Spurs went 8-1, suffering a 137-97 rout in Portland when coach Gregg Popovich sat Duncan, Parker and Manu Ginobili. And did not get fined.
The Clippers and Lakers are both teams currently on their longest road trips of the season, having had to vacate the Staples Center for the Grammy Awards. The Clippers, playing without the injured Chris Paul, are 1-3 midway through their eight-game trip and the underachieving Lakers are now 3-1 on a seven-game trek, but just lost Pau Gasol as they chase the No. 8 seed in the West.
Some teams fret and worry about the schedule and turn it into a monster that becomes too big to handle. For the Spurs, it’s just about ticking off the stops on the itinerary.
“We’ve had a good taste of the road early in the season,” said Danny Green. “This team has done it every year and so nobody really thinks about it. You just play them all until you get back home.”
Where the aroma of turkey legs and manure will still linger.
Spurs Rodeo Trip History
|Year||Record||Lost on trip to …:
|2011||6-3||Blazers, Sixers, Bulls|
|2010||5-4||Blazers, Lakers, Sixers, Pistons|
|2009||5-3||Nuggets, Raptors, Knicks|
|2008||6-3||Jazz, Thunder, Celtics|
|2007||4-4||Jazz, Suns, Magic, Heat|