It’s true that sitting in a wheelchair can’t help but take some of the height advantage away, but how badly do you think a team consisting of San Antonio Spurs big men Matt Bonner (at 6-10), Aron Baynes (ditto) and Tiago Splitter (6-11) would beat a wheelchair basketball team in a game of three-on-three? After all, Bonner is one of the most accurate NBA shooters of all time, Baynes is a highly-regarded reserve center, and Splitter is one of the league’s best young offensive centers.
This is where you find out that some skills don’t translate, and that wheelchair basketball is an entirely different sport. A fascinating, entertaining, engaging sport. Seriously, if you ever get to see a game of wheelchair basketball down at your local YMCA or student rec center, take it in.
Oh, and those three Spurs lost by a 28-6 count to a group of army veterans, playing at a rehabilitation center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio on Tuesday. The Spurs got their tails handed to them.
The clinic, presented by Valero, San Antonio Sports, the Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Paralympics, has come to San Antonio for the first time, after similar events were held in Durham, N.C.; San Jose, Calif.; and Chicago. To add some fun and local flavor, organizers called on three Spurs to take on amputees who survived the double-elimination basketball tournament.
“We're here to win,” Bonner said Tuesday.
After a 20-minute game, the three veterans, Edwin Gonzalez, Matt Spang and Chris Pettway — all amputees — trounced the Spurs, 28-6. Gonzalez, from New York state, said it was generous of the Spurs to compete in wheelchairs.
Army Sergeant Delvin Maston explained to Huddleson just why three NBA pros were demolished in a game of wheelchair basketball:
“You have to really dig into your mental game and be fundamentally sound,” Maston said. “Your athleticism is limited because you no longer have your legs. You have to be more technical.”
Yeah, let’s step up your fundamentals, Matt Bonner. Get it together, hot dog.
In other good-hearted San Antonio news, San Antonio mayor Julian Castro is performing a day of service in Miami on Wednesday, helping plant gardens and serving food to war veterans in Miami as a result of a “lost” bet with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
The San Antonio Express-News reports that no city funds were used in Castro’s goodwill (and good food, with San Antonio’s Mi Tierra Café sending some Tex-Mex stylings along for the vets) trip to Miami.