McALLEN – San Antonio Spurs fans in the Rio Grande Valley were hoping to celebrate another championship Thursday night. Instead they’re consoling themselves.
More than 200 fans gathered at Buffalo Wild Wings, 4424 N. 10th St. in McAllen, to watch Game 7 of the NBA Finals on the 72 televisions in the restaurant and sports bar. They cheered enthusiastically from the opening tip for every made basket and groaned with every Spurs turnover or Heat point.
“This is awesome, this is amazing, I got a good turnout,” general manager Daniel Zuniga said. He couldn’t say how many more staff members were working compared with a usual Thursday night, but he did confirm extra employees were needed.
The parking lot was full by 7:30 p.m. — a half-hour before game time — and the hostess starting keeping a waiting list for a table at 6 p.m.
People came out to watch the game with other fans.
“We wanted to celebrate with everybody,” Carlos De Leon, of McAllen, said before the game. De Leon was watching with his two sons.
After the game — and the series — ended, many bar patrons were disappointed. They headed to the exits en masse the moment the Spurs loss was official.
Edinburg Spurs fan Rebekah Sepulveda said before the game started that she was nervous. She attended the last championship-clinching game in San Antonio in 2007, and she was hoping to attend a victory parade there this year.
Minutes after the final buzzer sounded, Sepulveda was coming to terms with the loss.
“I’m sad, I’m devastated,” she said.
Art Hinojosa said the Spurs were the most popular sports team for the Valley.
“They’re so close and they represent us in the best way,” Hinojosa said.
Even so, he was keeping the loss in perspective.
“It’s just a game,” he added. “I’m sad now but I’ll be over it in about 30 minutes,” Hinojosa said.
And of course, that old adage that originated with Brooklyn Dodgers fans almost 100 years ago applies here.
“Hopefully next year,” said Nicholas Tamez. “Let’s go next year. Hopefully (Tim) Duncan comes back.”