Spurs.com Love Match


Ken Rodriguez is a San Antonio native who covered his first Spurs game in 1981 for The Daily Texan, the University of Texas student newspaper. He spent 26 years in the newspaper business -- 21 of them covering sports -- before joining the marketing department at Our Lady of the Lake University in 2009. His Spurs.com column will appear every Wednesday.


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Jay Garcia went online to talk hoops. "He entered the Spurs.com game chat to discuss a ballgame in progress, wound up flirting with a college student and signed off hoping for a date.

Rebecca Lopez -- "Becca" to her friends -- later gave him her number and agreed to meet him at a Spurs game. Then she got cold feet and ignored his text messages.

Two and a half years later, they've got a story. Jay, 38, proposed. Becca, 28, said, "I'd love to." And now they share what may be a silver-and-black first: a romance that blossomed during an online game chat. As TV play-by-play man Bill Land might say, "Oh momma!"

Nobody recalls the game when it happened. No one knows whether the first exchange came after a Manu Ginobili drive or a Tony Parker teardrop. All anyone remembers is that they met in December 2009, and it wasn't love at first write.

Becca mentioned a human resources class she was taking, and Jay said something less than kind. "I thought he was rude," she says. Becca gave him another chance, and soon they were joking and cutting up and chatroom observers noticed virtual sparks.

The icebreaking moment occurred when, during the game, Jay made a brief reference to Vanilla Ice and Becca replied with lyrics to "Ice Ice baby."

All right stop
Collaborate and listen
Ice is back with my brand new invention …

Becca typed the entire first verse, eliciting a memorable reaction. "I was drinking water," Jay told her, "and when I read your post, spit it on my computer screen I was laughing so hard."

Even now Jay chuckles at the memory: "I would keep my posts mostly about the game. But Becca would come out of left field and text something not expected and it would make me laugh. I liked her sense of humor. So we started to chat a little bit more outside of Spurs games. 'What are you up to? How is school?'"

According to match.com one in five relationships begin online. What no one seems to know is: how many begin in an NBA chat room? One day, two people are talking pick and roll, the next they're hooking up at Hooligan's. Which is sort of what happened to Jay and Becca.

The relationship went from computer screens to the AT&T Center -- where Becca grew too nervous to meet Jay -- to a sports bar. When they finally met in March 2010, Jay and Becca embraced and exchanged pleasantries, then Jay went inside Hooligan's to throw darts.

"It was kind of awkward," Jay says. "Becca and I kind of talked a sentence or two at a time, then it was my turn to throw a dart with my friend Matt. I would come back to the table and stand there, get in another sentence, and go back and throw. That went on for about two hours. It was hard when we didn't have the Spurs as a focal point to start a conversation."

They worked past the awkwardness, and by the second date things clicked. She was a business management major at Our Lady of the Lake University; he was an aspiring pharmacy student, taking classes at UTSA. They fell for each other after falling for the Spurs. The bonus for Jay: Becca's mother was a season-ticket holder.

"We are die hard fans," Jay says. "Becca's mom has the Spurs logo tattooed on the back of her neck. We plan events around Spurs games. Taco night. Spaghetti night. With her family, her mom and aunt, we go to plenty of games. Sometimes on short notice we get $10 nosebleeds and hang around the Fan Zone."

Becca blinked and the calendar turned from December 2009 to June 2012. She has a college degree and a fiancé; he's between jobs as a pharmacy technician and hopes to be accepted into pharmacy school. "Where did the time go," she asks Jay.

They have not set a wedding date. He has yet to buy her a ring. But he did propose and ask Becca's parents for their blessing. "My parents love Jay," Becca says. "My whole family does. It's unofficial because there's nothing materialistic on my finger. But in my heart, I know we're engaged."

On the subject of basketball, they are deeply engaged. Their favorite Spur of all-time?

"David Robinson," he says.

"David Robinson," she says.

Why?

"Great role model," she says. Jay agrees.

Favorite Spurs championship team?

"1999," he says.

"1999," she says.

Why?

"Because it was the first," he says. Becca agrees.

Jay can hardly believe the crazy turn of events. He went from talking hoops on a computer to thinking happily ever after.