Credit: David Flores / Kens5.com
Baseline Bums president Bonnie Keammerer, left, and member Debi George cheer for the Spurs during their 101-89 victory against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night at the AT&T Center.
Saturday, Jan 15 at 7:29 AM
They’re not the same raucous group that harassed game officials and visiting teams at HemisFair Arena for 20 years, but the Baseline Bums still make their presence known at Spurs home games.
The Bums were at the top of their game Friday night when the Spurs beat the short-handed Dallas Mavericks 101-89 at the AT&T Center, cheering on the Silver and Black from the opening tipoff to the final buzzer.
“Dallas is that team you love to hate,” said Dianna Pina, who is vice president of the Baseline Bums. “Dallas is an arrogant team and the Spurs are more down to earth.”
The Baseline Bums, a group with a membership of nearly 150 fans of all ages, have supported the Spurs since the early days of the franchise.
While they’re a lot tamer than they were when they sat near the visiting team’s locker room at HemisFair Arena, the Bums still give an earful to refs and opposing players at the AT&T Center. The group sits in three end-zone, plaza-level sections located on the east side of the building.
Every now and then you might hear the chant that goes: “I’m blind. I’m deaf. I want to be a ref.”
But that’s about as far as the Bums push the envelope these days.
“There have been some games when the refs will look up at where we’re sitting,” Jeanine Samer said proudly. “They know we’re up there.”
The Bums I talked with Friday night weren’t timid in describing their feelings for the Mavericks, their fans and their owner, Mark Cuban.
“It’s a rivalry and you can see that in the stands,” Samer said. “You’ll always have Mavericks fans at our games here and they make a big deal of it when they win. They’ll chant, ‘We’re No. 1.’ No. 1 of what? It’s just one game. The Spurs have won four NBA championships and the Mavericks don’t have one.”
Baseline Bums president Bonnie Keammerer said the group does more than cheer for the Spurs at home games. Sanctioned by the franchise, the Bums do community work and help with various charities throughout the year.
Annual membership dues are $35.
Any fan interested in becoming a Bum must be approved by a membership committee.
“You just don’t say you want to be a Baseline Bum and you’re in,” Keammerer said. “You have to go through an interview.”
She paused and chuckled before continuing.
“If I cut your wrist and you bleed Silver and Black, you’re in,” Keammerer said.
Edward Knight has been a Baseline Bum longer than any other member with the current group, Keammerer said. Knight, 77, became a Bum more than 20 years ago and has supported the Spurs since their first season in San Antonio.
“That first season the Spurs were here, if you bought one ticket, you’d get a free one,” Knight said. “My brother and I would take our wives to the games. I’ve made a lot of friendships in the Baseball Bums. It’s been great.”
Knight said he considers the Spurs-Mavericks rivalry one of the best in the NBA.
“I think Cuban added a lot to it when he said those bad things about the San Antonio River and the River Walk a few years back,” Knight said.
Richard Higby and his son, Steven, are both Baseline Bums and rarely miss a game.
“My son has Down Syndrome, and when he started coming to the games with me, I was impressed with the way the Baseline Bums accepted him,” Richard Higby said. “It’s been great.”
And what does Richard Higby think of the Spurs-Mavs rivalry?
“We say we hate the Mavericks but we really don’t,” Higby said. “We hate to lose to them.”
There wasn’t much chance of that happening Friday night. Playing their ninth consecutive game without star forward Dirk Nowitzki, sidelined with a sprained right knee, the Mavs were no match for the red-hot Spurs.
The Spurs, who own the best record in the NBA, improved to 34-6. Dallas, which has lost four straight, fell to 26-12 and is 2-7 without Nowitzki.
The Spurs host Denver at 8 p.m. Sunday.