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HomeBasketball TodaySpurs gear up for triumphant return to roaring Austin crowd

Spurs gear up for triumphant return to roaring Austin crowd

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The Spurs get set for their “I-35” Series with two consecutive games at Austin’s Moody Center.

The San Antonio Spurs start their I-35 Series on Friday vs. the defending-champion Denver Nuggets. It marks the second consecutive season that the franchise is playing a pair of home games in Austin, the major city that neighbors them to the north.

Though rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama has been to Austin, he’s never been inside the Moody Center, which will again host both Spurs games in the state’s capital city.

“Visited, no, but I’ve been to Austin once,” the generational talent responded when asked if he’d made the hour and half trip up north since landing in the Alamo City.

Realities of Spurs home games in Austin

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich walks the sideline during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Moody Center on Saturday, April 8, 2023 in Austin
Aaron E. Martinez-USA TODAY NETWORK

The Spurs’ two games at the home of the Texas Longhorns came in their third-to-last and second-to-last games of 2022. They beat the Portland Trail Blazers by two before falling by 20 to a Minnesota Timberwolves team that qualified for the playoffs.

“The thing I remember the most is the fans there, for sure,” Tre Jones said. “We got a win there last year, I remember. That was a lot of fun playing in Moody Center. It gets loud in there.”

I know the fans in Austin that aren’t able to make it to as many games definitely bring that energy there, and that’s something that we feel and look forward to,” he continued. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. We got two fun games that we’re looking forward to and can’t wait to get to Austin.”

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Not everyone, though, shares Jones’ excitement about the pair of contests that are becoming a Silver and Black tradition.

“No, no. It’s two home games that we’re going to play away,” Hall-of-Fame head coach Gregg Popovich said. “I don’t see much fun about that, to be honest with you.”

Wembanyama seemed to split the middle between his point guard and coach.

“It’s something we can use to our advantage. A change of environment like this, I think is good,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of home games coming up too and I think it’s good to change a little bit.”

The reason behind the ‘I-35 Series’

Because of all the success they’ve enjoyed historically, including a 20-year year span that was second-to-none in all of sports, the Spurs’ reality as a small-market franchise hasn’t hindered their ability to thrive. But as the organization transitions from an era that that saw five championships to a fifth straight season in which they’ll miss the playoffs, they’ve had to expand the business market.

Last season, the team played a regular season game in Mexico City as well as the two contests in Austin, which is proving one of the country’s fastest-growing areas. That said, Moody Center, which opened in 2022, still provides a cozy environment.

“It’s nothing like Cameron. Nothing compares to Cameron,” Jones, who went to Duke, said in relation to the Blue Devils home venue Cameron Indoor Stadium. “But, you can feel a little bit of a college atmosphere in there, obviously, that’s their home arena. It’s a really nice arena. It’s a new one. They did a really good job there, I like it a lot.”

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After taking on the Nuggets, the Spurs will face the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday in Austin.

Hector Ledesma_headshot

About the Author

Hector Ledesma has been covering the Spurs in San Antonio since 2005, but he has been following them for even longer than that. An award-winning journalist born and raised in San Antonio, Hector has worked across all types of television and radio platforms. His work extends online and through social media (@HectorLedesmaTV) where he continues that work with ClutchPoints.

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