"The Iceman" And "The Admiral" Stand Tall In Spurs' Past And
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The San Antonio Spurs began as an original entry in the American
Basketball Association. Called the Dallas Chaparrals, the franchise
survived the turmoil of the ABA era and was rewarded with
admittance to the NBA when the upstart league merged with the
The franchise has fielded some fine teams over the years. In the
late 1970s and early 1980s the team featured George "the Iceman"
Gervin and won the Midwest Division five out of six years. In the
late 1980s the addition of David Robinson turned the club back into
a contender. And when Tim Duncan arrived, he and Robinson brought a
championship home to San Antonio in 1999.
1967-69: In The Beginning
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The Dallas Chaparrals were established in 1967, one of 11 teams
to take the floor for the ABA that year. Former St. Louis Hawks
star Cliff Hagan was persuaded to end his one-year retirement and
join the club as a player-coach. The Chaps' stars included forward
Cincinnatus "Cincy" Powell, center John Beasley, and guard Bob
Verga. Maurice McHartley was the first player off the bench.
With each team in the new league an unknown quantity, the ABA
was wide open, and Dallas found itself in a tight race with the New
Orleans Buccaneers and the Denver Rockets for the top spot in the
Western Division. The 36-year-old Hagan had a good year, scoring
18.2 points per game. Beasley, the 6-foot-9 rookie, probably had
the best season of his seven-year ABA career, averaging 19.7 points
while collecting 12.8 rebounds per game. Powell scored 18.3 points
per game, Verga averaged 23.7 points in 31 contests before being
called to military service, and McHartley tallied another 15.3
points per contest.
Dallas finished its inaugural season with a 46-32 record and in
second place, two games behind New Orleans and two games ahead of
Denver. The Chaparrals swept the Houston Mavericks in the first
round of the playoffs, then lost in the second round to New
Orleans, which went on to lose to the Pittsburgh Pipers in the
first ABA Finals.
The second-year Dallas Chaparrals slipped a bit in the 1968-69
season despite the addition of rookie guard Ron Boone. Boone
averaged 18.9 points in his freshman campaign, and Powell and
Beasley each had productive years. But Hagan's contribution
slipped, and he appeared in only 35 games.
The Chaps fell to fourth place in the Western Division with a
41-37 record, resulting in a first-round playoff rematch with New
Orleans. After falling behind the Buccaneers, three games to one,
Dallas bounced back with convincing wins in Games 5 and 6. However,
the Chaps fell short by losing Game 7, 101-95.
1969-73: A Change Of Names, A Change Of Cities
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After the 1968-69 season Hagan gave up playing and moved to the
bench full-time. The 1969-70 team added a new center, Manny Leaks,
who had played for the Kentucky Colonels and the New York Nets
before joining the Chaparrals. Leaks, who was only 6-foot-8, turned
in a stellar performance, averaging 18.8 points and 12.5 rebounds,
while Powell chipped in 20.1 points per game.
Hagan's bid to give up playing and concentrate solely on his
coaching duties backfired. With the team sporting a 22-21 record,
he was fired. His replacement, Max Williams, piloted the team to a
45-39 record and a second-place finish in the Western Division.
Dallas lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Los Angeles
Stars; however, the final three games of the series were
down-to-the-wire barn burners. With the Chaparrals up, two games to
one, the Stars claimed Game 4, 144-138, then came back two nights
later to win Game 5, 146-139. The Stars then closed out the series
in Game 6, winning 124-123.
For the 1970-71 season the Dallas Chaparrals became the Texas
Chaparrals, but they continued to play in Dallas. It was not a good
year on the court for the Chaps. Powell was gone, and the club
cycled through 18 players and two coaches during the campaign.
Donnie Freeman, a 6-foot-3 guard who came over from the Utah Stars
during the season, provided much of the scoring, averaging 23.6
points. The franchise tumbled to its first losing season, at 30-54,
and was then swept out of the playoffs by the Stars.
The Chaps (whose official name was once again the Dallas
Chaparrals) hired Tom Nissalke as their head coach for the 1971-72
season, and he somehow managed to bring a team that featured names
like Simmie Hill and Goo Kennedy to near respectability. A 41-41
finish was good enough to win Nissalke the league's Coach of the
Year Award. For the second straight year the Chaparrals were swept
by the Utah Stars in the first round of the playoffs, but it was a
much better series. In the previous season Utah had won by an
average of more than 18 points per game. In 1972 the margin was
only six points per contest.
Nissalke jumped to the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics for the 1972-73
season. The team he left behind was in shambles. Neither his
successor, Babe McCarthy, nor McCarthy's late-season replacement,
Dave Brown, could do much with the hapless team, which finished out
of the playoffs at 28-56. To make matters worse, the franchise was
struggling to attract fans, and when it was announced late in the
season that a group from New Jersey would purchase the club, the
last few shreds of local interest disappeared. To add insult to
injury, the New Jersey deal fell through.
The Dallas Chaparrals' swan song came on March 26, 1973. Playing
one last time at the Dallas Convention Center, the Chaparrals eked
out a 112-110 victory over the Carolina Cougars, the ABA's best
team that year. The paid attendance was reported to be 134.
1973: Franchise Relocates To San Antonio
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The franchise was rescued from oblivion by a group of San
Antonio businessmen led by John Schaefer, B. J. "Red" McCombs, Art
Burdick, and Angelo Drossos. The group moved the club to San
Antonio and rechristened it the Spurs. They also brought back
Nissalke, whose NBA sojourn had been a disaster-he'd lasted barely
half a season with Seattle, posting a 13-32 record with the
SuperSonics before losing his job.
The franchise played its first game in San Antonio on October
10, 1973, before 5,879 fans at the HemisFair Arena. The Spurs faced
the San Diego Conquistadors and came out on the losing end of a
126-101 contest. The team got off to a slow start, posting a 1-6
record. Fan interest was minimal; only 1,799 people showed up for
the Spurs' first win, on October 18.
The situation began to change in November. The struggling
Virginia Squires franchise was selling off players, and the Spurs
purchased 6-foot-11 Swen Nater for $300,000. On November 28 San
Antonio played before a sellout crowd of 10,146 and beat the
Kentucky Colonels, to improve to 13-12. Nater, who had been Bill
Walton's backup at UCLA, played in the ABA All-Star Game, in which
he racked up 29 points and 22 rebounds.
1973-76: "The Iceman" Arrives
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San Antonio made a second big move at the end of January, buying
the rights to 21-year-old George Gervin from Virginia. Gervin
joined the team in mid-February and averaged 19.4 points in 26
contests with the Spurs. The club won 12 of its final 18 games to
claim third place in the Western Division with a 45-39 record.
Paired with the Indiana Pacers in the first round of postseason
play, the Spurs lost in seven games.
The 1974-75 Spurs boasted a solid starting five. In addition to
Gervin and Nater, the Spurs had third-year guard James "Snake"
Silas and sixth-year forward Rich Jones, both of whom averaged 19.3
points. The team also added veteran Donnie Freeman, who had played
for the Dallas Chaparrals a few seasons earlier. He contributed
15.5 points per game.
Despite the team's 17-10 start, Nissalke was fired in December,
and Bob Bass took over as coach. On January 28 San Antonio hosted
the ABA All-Star Game before 10,449 spectators. Three Spurs played
for the West-Gervin, Nater, and Silas. Gervin scored 23 points and
Silas canned 21 to lead the West, but the East prevailed,
San Antonio finished in second place in the Western Division
with a 51-33 mark. Gervin, who was following up a solid rookie
season with a very productive sophomore campaign, gave San Antonio
fans a taste of what they would see in the coming years. On
February 5 he collected 51 points against the Memphis Sounds. In
the playoffs against Indiana, Coach Bass moved Gervin from forward
to the shooting guard position, and he caught fire. In the final
three games of the series he averaged 35.0 points. But it wasn't
enough for the Spurs, who lost the series, four games to two.
The Spurs made some major changes in the offseason. In June the
team traded Nater to the New York Nets for forward Larry Kenon.
Three months later San Antonio sent four Spurs to New York in
exchange for 6-foot-11 center Billy Paultz.
When the 1975-76 ABA season commenced, the league was down to
seven teams playing in a single division. San Antonio's offseason
moves paid off. Nater was slowed by a knee injury and was not a big
contributor for the Nets. Paultz and Kenon, on the other hand,
combined for 35.2 points and 21.5 rebounds per game. San Antonio
placed four players-Gervin, Silas, Paultz, and Kenon-in the ABA's
midseason All-Star Game. After taking seven of eight games down the
stretch, the Spurs wound up in third place with a 50-34 record.
San Antonio faced Julius Erving and the New York Nets in the
first round of the playoffs. The Spurs' chances were dealt a
serious blow in Game 1 after Silas, the team's leading scorer at
23.8 points per game, broke his ankle. The club still managed to
push the Nets to the limit before bowing out in Game 7, 121-114.
The Nets went on to claim the ABA's ninth and final
1976-77: Spurs Join The NBA
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On June 17, 1976, the San Antonio Spurs, the New York Nets, the
Denver Nuggets, and the Indiana Pacers all gained admittance to the
NBA as the ABA finally gave up the ghost. San Antonio brought in
Doug Moe to assume the coaching duties but planned to take the
floor with basically the same team. Silas, who was coming off his
ankle injury, hurt his knee in the preseason and was sidelined for
the Spurs' first 60 games. His backup, George Karl (who would go on
to coach the fine Seattle teams of the early 1990s), was also out
of action after undergoing knee surgery. The starting point guard
duties fell to Mike Gale, who in the previous season had averaged
only 6.8 points while coming off the bench.
The Spurs' NBA premiere took place on October 22, 1976, against
the Philadelphia 76ers, who had come away from the NBA-ABA merger
with Julius Erving. Playing before 17,196 Sixers fans, the Spurs
notched a 121-118 win. After a 2-6 start, San Antonio reeled off
six straight victories in November. In December the Spurs purloined
a game from the Kansas City Kings as forward Larry Kenon registered
11 steals to set an NBA record. By February the club was 10 games
San Antonio faltered as the year wound down, losing five of six
games to end the regular season. The Boston Celtics then swept San
Antonio in the first round of the playoffs. Still, the Spurs had
put together a good showing in their first trip through the NBA. At
44-38, the club posted the sixth-best record in the league. Gervin
finished ninth in the league in scoring with 23.1 points per game,
and he shot a phenomenal .544 from the field, the second-best mark
in NBA history for a guard. The Spurs were the NBA's top-scoring
team, averaging 115.0 points. But the club also had the league's
most porous defense, allowing 114.4 points per contest.
Gervin, Kenon, and Paultz led the way in the 1977-78 season.
Injuries sidelined guards Gale, Karl, and Silas early in the year,
and the club posted back-to-back 8-7 records in November and
December. By January the team was healthy. From the beginning of
the new year to the end of March, San Antonio piled up wins, going
30-9 to clinch the Central Division title.
1977-79: "The Iceman" Duels With "Skywalker"
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The final day of the season featured the incredible climax to a
season-long duel between Gervin and the Denver Nuggets' David
Thompson for the league's scoring title. On Sunday, April 9, the
Nuggets played an afternoon game against Detroit. The 6-foot-4
Thompson blistered the Pistons for 73 points in the Nuggets'
139-137 win. Thompson's point total was the third highest in league
history. Only Wilt Chamberlain, with games of 100 in 1962 and 78 in
1961, had ever scored more points in a single contest.
Gervin and the Spurs played that same night in New Orleans
against the Jazz. The Iceman needed 58 points to claim the title.
He accumulated 20 of the Spurs' 33 points in the first period. In
the second Gervin added 33 to set an NBA single-period record. With
more than 10 minutes remaining in the third period, Gervin sank a
10-foot jump shot to reach 59 points and take the title. Coach Moe
took Gervin out of the game to a standing ovation. The Iceman
returned later to add 4 more points and finish with 63, on 23-of-49
shooting from the field.
Gervin edged Thompson by the thinnest of margins for the scoring
title. For the season, Gervin averaged 27.22 points to Thompson's
The Spurs entered the 1978 postseason with a 52-30 record and
were favored to beat the Washington Bullets in the first round of
the playoffs. But the surprising Bullets, who had finished eight
games behind the Spurs in the Central Division, ousted San Antonio
in a hard-fought six-game series. Gervin continued his scoring
onslaught in the postseason, averaging 33.2 points. In Game 2 he
set a franchise playoff record with 46 points.
The Spurs set the tone for the 1978-79 season on opening day,
when the club scored 153 points and beat the Milwaukee Bucks by 42.
San Antonio would go on to lead the league in scoring with an
average of 119.3 points. The next closest team was the Bullets, who
trailed the Spurs by 4.4 points per contest. The Spurs also paced
the league in point differential, beating opposing clubs by an
average of 5.2 points.
The high-scoring Spurs were led once again by Gervin (29.6 ppg),
who became the first guard in NBA history to win back-to-back
scoring titles. The team also received a big boost from James
Silas, who returned to the starting lineup after a two-year absence
due to knee surgery. The Spurs were 14-14 when Silas joined Gervin
in the Spurs' starting backcourt. From that point on the team went
34-20. A 117-101 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on the final day
of the season gave the Spurs a second straight Central Division
crown with a 48-34 record, one game ahead of the Houston
The Spurs squared off against the Philadelphia 76ers in the
Eastern Conference Semifinals and jumped out to a two-games-to-none
lead in the best-of-seven series. The 76ers came back to knot the
series at three games apiece. However, on May 2 San Antonio
returned home and clipped the Sixers by a three-point margin.
The Spurs moved on to face the Washington Bullets in the Eastern
Conference Finals. After posting victories in Games 1, 3, and 4,
San Antonio was in the driver's seat with a three-games-to-one
series lead. But the Bullets squeezed out close victories in each
of the final three games, winning by scores of 107-103, 108-100,
and 107-105, respectively, to take the series and advance to the
championship round against the Seattle SuperSonics. Gervin averaged
28.6 points in the postseason to lead all playoff participants.
1979-80: Gervin Stays Hot
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After two years at the top of the Central Division, the 1979-80
season was a disappointment for San Antonio, although Kenon and
Silas had good years. In January the Spurs sent Billy Paultz to
Houston for John Shumate, who chipped in 14.7 points and 7.9
rebounds per game in his 27 contests for the Spurs. Gervin,
meanwhile, was outstanding. He won his third straight scoring title
by averaging 33.1 points per game, leading the league in field
goals made and attempted. His shooting percentage was a blazing
.528, and he also earned the MVP Award at the 1980 NBA All-Star
Game after a 34-point, 10-rebound performance.
Despite Gervin's scoring outbursts, San Antonio hovered around
the .500 mark all season. The team was hampered by a weak defense,
which yielded a whopping 119.7 points per game. (Denver, the
second-poorest defensive club, surrendered 112.7 points per game.)
Head Coach Doug Moe paid for the team's mediocre performance with
his job. Moe was fired on March 1 and replaced by Bob Bass. San
Antonio finished the season with a 41-41 record and was eliminated
in the first round of the playoffs by the Houston Rockets.
1980-81: Key Moves In Store-New Players And A New Division
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As a result of that lackluster showing, the Spurs made a couple
of key moves before the 1980-81 season. Larry Kenon was shipped to
the Chicago Bulls, Dave Corzine came over from the Washington
Bullets, George Johnson was picked up as a free agent, and Reggie
Johnson, a 6-foot-9 forward from the University of Tennessee, was
selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. In addition, the
franchise brought in Stan Albeck as its new head coach. Meanwhile,
the Spurs jumped over to the Midwest Division of the Western
Conference, joining Houston, Kansas City, Denver, Utah, and the
expansion Dallas Mavericks.
All the pieces quickly fell into place. San Antonio jumped out
to a 10-2 start. In late December a San Antonio tradition was born
when the club handed out 10,000 free posters that featured the
Spurs' front line as the "Bruise Brothers." The crew of George
Johnson, Dave Corzine, Kevin Restani, Paul Griffin, Mark Olberding,
and Reggie Johnson deserved the moniker. The 1980-81 team led the
NBA in rebounds and blocked shots, and was third in personal fouls.
George Johnson led the league in blocked shots with 3.39 per
San Antonio breezed to its third division title in four years,
with a 52-30 record. Kansas City and Houston tied for second, a
distant 12 games back. But the Spurs were unable to get by the
Rockets in the Western Conference Semifinals. Houston took three
games from San Antonio at the HemisFair Arena, including the
deciding Game 7, which Houston won by a 105-100 tally.
An era of sorts came to an end the following offseason when the
Spurs traded James Silas to Cleveland. Silas was the last of the
remaining Spurs to have played with the old Dallas Chaparrals. The
emergence of Johnny Moore made the trade possible. Moore, a
second-year point guard, took over the starting spot and went on to
lead the league in assists with 9.6 per game. He wasn't the only
Spurs league leader during the 1981-82 campaign. After finishing
third in scoring the season before, Gervin regained the top spot by
averaging 32.3 points per game.
Halfway through the season the Spurs made an important
acquisition-they traded Ron Brewer and George Johnson to Cleveland
for the high-scoring, 6-foot-7 Mike Mitchell. In his first season
with the Spurs, Mitchell averaged 21.0 points.
1981-83: Spurs Make A Point To Score Often
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San Antonio's success was built on its prolific offense. The
1981-82 season featured one game with the second-highest point
total in NBA history. In a triple-overtime contest against
Milwaukee at the HemisFair Arena, the Spurs pulled away with a
171-166 win, thanks to a 50-point performance from Gervin. San
Antonio finished the year ranked second in the NBA in scoring at
113.1 points per game, but that wasn't even close to league-leading
Denver, which averaged an astonishing 126.5 points.
The Spurs claimed a second straight Midwest Division title in
1981-82, finishing two games ahead of Denver. Matched up against
Seattle in the Western Conference Semifinals, the Spurs split the
first two games with the SuperSonics, then won three straight close
games to take the series. That earned the team a shot at the Lakers
in the Western Conference Finals, but Los Angeles swept the Spurs
on its way to an NBA Championship.
In the offseason the Spurs engineered a swap with the Bulls that
sent Mark Olberding and Dave Corzine to Chicago in return for
11-year veteran Artis Gilmore. The 7-foot-2, 33-year-old Gilmore
fit right in, powering San Antonio to a franchise-record 53 wins.
The team did it with solid, all-around play. The Spurs were second
in the league in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, and assists.
Gilmore led the league in field-goal percentage at .626; Johnny
Moore was second in assists with 9.8 per game; and Gervin finished
fourth in scoring at 26.5 points per game.
The Spurs concluded the regular season with an eight-game lead
over the Denver Nuggets. The two teams squared off in the playoffs
and proceeded to light up the scoreboard in one of the most
explosive playoff series ever. San Antonio took the first game,
152-133, as the two teams set a single-game postseason record for
total points. The Spurs won Game 2 by 17 points, then took a
commanding three-games-to-none lead in the series with a 127-126
overtime win. After losing Game 4, San Antonio sent Denver packing
with a 145-105 rout in Game 5. For the five-game series the Spurs
averaged 132.8 points to Denver's 119.4.
The next round saw a rematch of the previous season's
Lakers-Spurs series. Swept in 1982, the Spurs put on a much better
showing in 1983, taking the Lakers to six games before bowing out
in a one-point loss in Game 6.
1983-84: Success No More In 1983-84
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A division leader in five of the previous six seasons, San
Antonio saw the bottom drop out during the 1983-84 campaign. The
problems started in the offseason when Stan Albeck left to take a
head coaching job with the New Jersey Nets. Morris McHone was hired
as his replacement. By the end of November the team was 6-12. On
December 17 the Spurs lost to the Atlanta Hawks, and Gervin was
held to only 8 points, breaking a string of 407 straight games in
which he had scored in double figures.
McHone was gone before the new year, and General Manager Bob
Bass stepped in and tried to restore order. He didn't have much
luck. Moore and Gilmore spent large parts of the second half of the
season on the injured list, and the Spurs lost 14 of 18 games
following the All-Star break. Despite a flurry of five wins in
seven games to end the season, San Antonio finished out of the
playoffs with a 37-45 record.
There were a couple of bright spots in an otherwise lackluster
season. John Lucas, who joined the Spurs from the Continental
Basketball Association in December, finished fourth in the NBA with
10.7 assists per game. During the final contest of the season he
set an NBA record with 14 assists in a quarter and a team record
with 24 assists in a game. (Nonetheless, the Spurs lost to the
Nuggets, 157-154.) Gilmore led the league in field-goal percentage
(.631) for the second consecutive year. Moore finished fifth in the
NBA in assists, right behind Lucas with 9.6 per game. And in
February the Spurs retired the jersey of James Silas.
1984-85: Losses Shrink With Cotton
Cotton Fitzsimmons was hired away from Kansas City in the
offseason and was given the task of rebuilding the Spurs. Six games
into the 1984-85 season he looked like a Coach of the Year
candidate, having piloted the Spurs to a 5-1 record. But the team
stumbled through a seven-game losing streak and struggled to play
.500 basketball the rest of the way. San Antonio didn't put
together a winning month until January, when the team went 8-5.
That month was highlighted by a 139-94 win in which Moore missed a
quadruple-double by a single steal; for the night his line read 26
points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds, and 9 steals.
San Antonio finished the season with a 41-41 record, tied for
fourth in the Midwest Division with Utah. The Spurs almost
surprised the first-place Nuggets in the opening round of the
playoffs, taking the series to the limit before losing in Game 5 by
1985-87: A Four-Year Drought Begins
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The next season was the first of four very lean years for the
Spurs. Shortly before the start of the 1985-86 campaign the team
made a surprising trade by sending Gervin to Chicago for David
Greenwood. Despite the loss of "the Iceman," the team played well
through December and stood at 19-13 two months into the season. But
on December 26 Moore was hospitalized with desert fever. The rare
disease not only kept him out for the year, it also ended his
San Antonio bumbled through the rest of the season, losing 10 of
16 games in January, 12 of 13 from early February to early March,
and 13 of 16 overall in March. A 35-47 record was the team's worst
showing since relocating to San Antonio from Dallas.
Not to be overlooked in the midst of the Spurs' mediocre
performance was the excellent season of second-year player Alvin
Robertson. He earned a handful of awards, including NBA Defensive
Player of the Year and NBA Most Improved Player, and he represented
the Spurs at the NBA All-Star Game. Robertson recorded 301 steals
to set a new league record, and on February 18 he became only the
second player in NBA history to chalk up a quadruple-double with 20
points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, and 10 steals.
Coach Fitzsimmons was fired after the 1985-86 season, and Bob
Weiss was handed the reins. Weiss had even less luck with the
1986-87 Spurs as the team shuffled through 17 players looking for a
winning combination. Nothing worked. The Spurs finished in last
place in the Midwest Division with a 28-54 record, 27 games behind
the Utah Jazz. Robertson repeated as the NBA's steals leader and
Defensive Player of the Year.
1987-89: San Antonio Plans For The Future
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On May 17, 1987, the Spurs won the NBA Draft Lottery. Exercising
the No. 1 pick six weeks later at the NBA Draft, the team made a
major commitment to its future by selecting 7-foot center David
Robinson. But that future was two years away. After signing a
contract with the Spurs on November 6, 1987, the Naval Academy
graduate headed off to fulfill his two-year commitment to the
The 1987-88 campaign was a struggle for the Spurs, though the
team played well in December, posting an 8-4 record to end a string
of 12 straight losing months. On December 5 the franchise retired
George Gervin's jersey. There weren't too many other highlights for
the undermanned San Antonio franchise this season. The team
finished the year with a 31-51 record and was swept in the first
round of the playoffs by the Lakers.
There was even less to cheer about during the 1988-89 season.
The Spurs had a new owner, Red McCombs, as well as a new head
coach, Larry Brown. However, the results were even worse than the
previous year. A 1-12 showing in February and an 8-game losing
streak to end the season resulted in a 21-61 record. Injuries
decimated the club, with Alvin Robertson just one of many Spurs who
spent time on the sidelines, but the team was weak by any
standards. Only rookie Willie Anderson provided a ray of hope. The
6-foot-8 swingman led the team in scoring (18.7 ppg) and finished
runner-up to Mitch Richmond for the NBA Rookie of the Year
1989-90: From Worst To First
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The Spurs went from worst to first the following season under
Coach Brown. David Robinson completed his tour of duty on May 19,
1989. Nine days later, the Spurs sent Robertson and Greg "Cadillac"
Anderson to the Milwaukee Bucks for Terry Cummings. In the 1989 NBA
Draft, San Antonio selected Sean Elliott with the third overall
pick. Later that summer Johnny Dawkins was shipped to the 76ers as
part of a five-player deal, and Maurice Cheeks joined the Spurs. By
opening day the Spurs' roster had nine new faces.
San Antonio opened the 1989-90 season with a 106-98 win over the
Lakers. In his NBA debut Robinson scored 23 points and snagged 17
rebounds. San Antonio went 8-5 in November, then moved into first
place in the Midwest Division after going 11-2 in December. On
February 21 the Spurs made one more deal, acquiring point guard Rod
Strickland from the New York Knicks for Cheeks.
San Antonio finished with a 56-26 record and a one-game cushion
over the second-place Utah Jazz. The 35-game improvement from
1988-89 to 1989-90 was the biggest one-year swing in NBA history.
The driving force behind the turnaround was "the Admiral." Rookie
of the Month in each month of the season, Robinson led the team in
scoring (24.3 ppg) and rebounding (12.0 rpg). He was the league's
Rookie of the Year and was named to the Western Conference All-Star
The Spurs waltzed past the Denver Nuggets in the first round of
the 1990 NBA Playoffs. The Western Conference Semifinal matchup
with the Portland Trail Blazers produced a tremendous seven-game
series that included two overtime losses for San Antonio: a 138-132
double-overtime defeat in Game 5 and a heartbreaking 108-105 loss
in Game 7 that ended San Antonio's season.
1990-92: First Round Not Kind To Spurs
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The Spurs proved that the 1989-90 season was not a fluke by
outdueling the Utah Jazz during the following campaign to take the
Midwest Division crown for a second straight year. The team
finished with a 55-27 record, and the success came despite the loss
of Strickland for 24 games and Cummings for 15, both due to injury.
Playing in his second straight NBA All-Star Game, Robinson scored
16 points in 18 minutes.
The Spurs entered the postseason as a contender for the NBA
title. But the team stumbled in the first round of the playoffs
against Golden State. Three Spurs scored more than 30 points in San
Antonio's 130-121 Game 1 victory, but the Warriors claimed the next
three games to steal the series.
San Antonio made one significant trade during the offseason,
picking up 6-foot-9 muscleman Antoine Carr from Sacramento for
Dwayne Schintzius. Strickland, the team's starting point guard,
began the season on the sidelines because of a contract dispute and
didn't suit up until late December. Despite the absence of their
point guard, the Spurs opened the 1991-92 campaign by going 10-3 in
November. The club struggled through the next two months, and Head
Coach Larry Brown stepped down on January 21. Bob Bass, who was
serving as vice president of basketball operations, took over the
reins for the fourth time in 17 years.
Under Bass, the team closed out the season by winning 26 games
and losing 18 to post a final record of 47-35, good enough for
second place in the Midwest Division behind the Jazz. The Spurs'
chances of advancing in the playoffs were severely hampered by the
absence of Robinson and Willie Anderson. "The Admiral" was placed
on the injured list on April 1 after undergoing surgery to repair a
torn ligament in his left hand. Anderson missed the final 24 games
of the season with a stress fracture in his left tibia. Neither
player was ready for action when the postseason began, and the
Spurs were swept in the first round by the Phoenix Suns.
1992-93: Tarkanian's Tenure Brief; Lucas Takes Helm
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In the offseason the Spurs hired Jerry Tarkanian as their new
head coach. That summer San Antonio also acquired Dale Ellis from
Milwaukee, but the club lost Terry Cummings for much of the
upcoming 1992-93 season when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament
in his right knee.
The Spurs never jelled under Tarkanian. The team opened by
losing four of five games and was 5-6 at the end of November. In
mid-December the franchise made two key moves. The first was on the
court. On December 9 the Spurs sent Sidney Green and a pair of
draft choices to the Charlotte Hornets and received J. R. Reid in
return. Ten days later the Tarkanian reign came to a close after
only six weeks. He had posted a 9-11 record.
The head coaching duties were handed to John Lucas. The Spurs
played inspired basketball under the former NBA guard, winning 16
of 18 games after Lucas took over. A key move was the insertion
into the starting lineup of Avery Johnson, a 5-foot-10 journeyman
point guard. A former teammate of Lucas's in Seattle, "A. J."
averaged 11.4 points and 9.9 assists while leading the Spurs to an
11-1 record in his first dozen starts.
The Spurs went 9-4 in February to climb to 35-18 overall, and
they took the lead in the Midwest Division. An 8-8 record in March
dropped the team back into second place behind the Houston Rockets.
On March 26 the franchise changed hands when Red McCombs sold his
interest to a consortium of 12 investors. The sale price was $75
San Antonio continued to struggle in April, winning just 6 of 13
games. The Spurs managed to dispatch the Trail Blazers in the first
round of the playoffs, winning by one point in Game 1 and by three
points in an overtime contest in Game 4 to take the series. San
Antonio gave Phoenix a scare in the next round. The teams split the
first four games, with each team winning on its home court. The
Suns beat the Spurs in Game 5 in Phoenix, 109-96. Game 6 was played
at the HemisFair Arena. An 18-foot jump shot by Charles Barkley
broke a 100-100 deadlock with 1.8 seconds left, and when David
Robinson missed a 20-footer at the buzzer, the Spurs were
eliminated. It was the last game at the HemisFair Arena. The Spurs
moved to the brand-new Alamodome for the 1993-94 season.
1993-94: King David Can't Take Spurs To The Promised Land
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In the offseason the Spurs traded Sean Elliott to the Detroit
Pistons in a deal that brought Dennis Rodman to San Antonio.
Rodman, sporting a variety of hair colors throughout the year,
changed the entire look of the Spurs in 1993-94. A team that had
finished last in the NBA in offensive rebounding percentage the
previous season vaulted to first with Rodman aboard. The
iconoclastic rebounder helped San Antonio craft the league's
second-best defense, allowing only 94.8 points per game.
However, Rodman's most noticeable impact was on David Robinson,
who had less pressure to rebound and more opportunities to score.
Doing more of his work on the perimeter, Robinson led the NBA in
scoring with 29.8 points per game. On the last day of the season he
wrested the scoring crown from Shaquille O'Neal by pouring in 71
points against the Los Angeles Clippers, becoming only the fourth
player in NBA history to score 70 points in a game. He had also
registered the fourth quadruple-double in NBA annals with 34
points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and 10 blocks against Detroit on
February 17. At season's end, he was runner-up to Hakeem Olajuwon
for the NBA MVP Award.
Rodman (17.3 rpg) and Robinson became the first teammates to
lead the NBA in both scoring and rebounding in the same season. The
Spurs finished 55-17, second to the Houston Rockets in the Midwest
Division. But after going 3-7 in their final 10 games, they entered
a first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz with little
momentum. Utah won in four games, as the Spurs managed only 88.0
points per contest. A few weeks later Lucas left San Antonio to
become head coach and general manager of the Philadelphia
1994-95: Robinson & Co. Surge To 62-Win Season
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The 1994-95 campaign proved to be the best ever for the Spurs,
although it ended a bit prematurely for San Antonio fans. The team
posted a 62-20 record, tops in the NBA and the best in franchise
history. The Spurs' previous best record was 56-26 in 1989-90,
David Robinson's rookie season.
The year didn't begin with much promise. With Dennis Rodman
suspended, San Antonio stumbled out to a 7-9 record. But the Spurs
went 55-11 the rest of the way, logging a 15-game winning streak
during one stretch. They ended the regular season with a 21-2
record in their final 23 games. The team went 11-2 in February,
14-2 in March, and 11-2 in April to win the Midwest Division.
Several players had career seasons. Robinson won the NBA Most
Valuable Player Award for a season in which he was third in the
league in scoring (27.6 ppg), seventh in rebounding (10.8 rpg), and
fourth in blocked shots (3.23 per game). He was also named to the
NBA All-Defensive First Team. Dynamic point guard Avery Johnson
rejoined the team after a year with the Golden State Warriors and
averaged 13.4 points and 8.2 assists. He increased his scoring
average for the seventh consecutive season, and his .519 field-goal
percentage ranked third among NBA guards.
Sean Elliott, reacquired from the Detroit Pistons in a trade for
draft pick Bill Curley, lit up the scoring charts with an average
of 18.1 points per game and drilled 136 of 333 three-pointers for a
.408 percentage (18th in the NBA). Rodman's look remained unique
and his rebounding unmatched. Despite missing 33 games, he led the
league in rebounding for the fourth consecutive season (16.8 rpg)
and was named to the All-NBA Third Team and the NBA All-Defensive
First Team. Vinny Del Negro assumed the starting off guard job and
averaged 12.5 points on .486 shooting from the field. Chuck Person
joined the team and knocked down 172 three-pointers as a hired gun
off the bench.
In the playoffs, the Spurs swept the Denver Nuggets in the first
round, got past the Los Angeles Lakers in six games in the
conference semifinals, and then fell in six games to the Houston
Rockets in the conference finals.
1995-96: Spurs Can't Shake Playoff Blues
Prior to the 1995-96 season, the Spurs traded Dennis
Rodman to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for center Will Perdue.
While Rodman's talents ultimately led the Bulls back to the NBA
championship, the hope was that the trade would be addition by
subtraction. Rodman, though an unparalleled rebounder, proved
distracting to the Spurs in their quest for a title.
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The move paid off in the regular season, where the Spurs didn't
miss a beat. They completed the season 59-23 to capture their
second straight Midwest Division title, only three games off their
record-setting pace of the previous year. Team chemistry was
remarkable, and according to coach Bob Hill "the best I've ever
The talent was equally extraordinary. Sean Elliott and David
Robinson represented the West at the All-Star Game, and the
backcourt of Vinny Del Negro and Avery Johnson posted the league's
best assist to turnover ratio. They shored up their front line with
the acquisition of Charles Smith and Monty Williams from New York
in February. In March, they posted a perfect 16-0 record, tying
them with the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers for the best month in NBA
But come playoff time, the Spurs faced the same question. Could
they win in the postseason? They proved to Phoenix that the answer
was yes, winning three games to one in the first round best-of-five
series. In the second round, the Spurs battled the Utah Jazz to six
games, but as in 1994, the Jazz toppled the Spurs, handing San
Antonio's hope of that still elusive trip to the Finals.
1996-97: Injuries Sink Spurs, But Land Duncan
The 1996-97 season was one of the most frustrating in franchise
history for the San Antonio Spurs, but ultimately may turn out to
be for the best.. Although the Spurs lost David Robinson to injury,
managed only 20 wins and missed the playoffs for the first time
since the 1988-89 season, they struck gold in the 1997 Draft
Lottery, landing the first overall pick and draft rights to super
prospect Tim Duncan.
Injuries decimated the Spurs, none more so than that of
Robinson, who returned from back problems only to suffer a broken
foot. The former MVP appeared in only nine games. Chuck Person was
even less fortunate, missing the entire season following back
surgery. Charles Smith missed 65 games with an arthritic right knee
and Sean Elliott missed 43 games with tendinitis in the right knee.
The loss of those four players, each among the top six scorers from
the 1995-96 team, prompted the steepest one-year decline in NBA
history, from 59 wins to only 20.
Another Spurs casualty was head coach Bob Hill, relieved of his
duties after a 3-15 start, and replaced by General Manager Gregg
Popovich, who posted a 17-47 record in his first stint as an NBA
In the absence of many of his regulars, Popovich relied on a
veteran crew that included free agent signees Dominique Wilkins and
Vernon Maxwell and the familiar backcourt duo of Vinnie Del Negro
and Avery Johnson. Wilkins, one of the top scorers in NBA history,
led the offensive charge with 18.2 points per game. During the
season he became only the 38th player to appear in 1,000 NBA games
and surpassed 26,000 points, moving into seventh place on the NBA's
all-time scoring list.
All the pain of the 1996-97 season went away on May 18, when the
Spurs won the Lottery and drew the top pick in the 1997 NBA Draft.
That assured them the rights to Duncan, a dominant collegiate star
at Wake Forest. With a dynamic duo of Robinson and Duncan up front,
San Antonio was expected to return to a place among the league's
elite in 1997-98.
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1997-98: Duncan Spurs Quick Turnaround
The San Antonio Spurs knew they were going to be an
improved team in 1997-98. After all, they were coming off of a
20-62 season, the worst in their 25-year NBA history. Just how good
they came, and how quickly, surprised a lot of NBA teams.
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With the return of David Robinson (who missed all but six games
the previous season because of injury) and the arrival of Tim
Duncan, the first overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, the Spurs
engineered the biggest single-season turnaround in NBA history,
winning 56 games and advancing to the second round of the NBA
For the season, Duncan averaged 21.1 points (12th in the NBA),
11.9 rebounds (3rd), 2.51 blocks (6th) and led all NBA players with
57 double-doubles. He was named to the NBA All-Star Team and
needless to say, he ran away with the NBA Rookie of the Year
Unlike many prized rookies, Duncan didn't have the burden of
carrying the offensive load. Standing right beside him all season
was Robinson, the former MVP who returned from his injury-plagued
season to his place among the league's elite centers.
It only took the Spurs revamped lineup about a month to learn to
play together. After a Dec. 9 loss dropped San Antonio to 10-10, it
all clicked and the Spurs soared, going 46-16 in their final 62
games. Like Duncan, Robinson earned a berth on the Western
Conference All-Star team and was among the league leaders in
scoring (21.6 ppg, 10th in the NBA), rebounding (10.6 rpg, 5th),
blocks (2.63 bpg, 5th) and double-doubles (40, 9th).
In the playoffs, the Spurs faced the Phoenix Suns in the first
round. But for all of Suns coach Danny Ainge's worries about Duncan
and Robinson, it was diminutive Avery Johnson who closed the door
on Phoenix. The 5-10 point guard, still hearing the whispers that
the Spurs needed a stronger point guard to contend, had his way
with Phoenix throughout the series, averaging a team-high 20.5 ppg
and 6.0 apg in the 3-to-1 series win.
Against the Utah Jazz in the Conference Semfinals, the Spurs
continued to give every indication that they were a title
contender. They just couldn't put away the defending conference
champs. Utah won Game 1, 83-82, despite 33 points from Duncan. In
Game 2, Utah prevailed 109-106 in overtime, and the Spurs' chances
took a huge hit when Duncan sprained his ankle. San Antonio
rebounded to win Game 3, but lost the series in five games.
1998-99: The Championship Season
San Antonio struggled in the first month of the
lockout-shortened season. But once the Spurs hit their stride,
nobody could block their path to the franchise's first NBA title.
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The Spurs clinched the championship on Avery Johnson's jumper
with 47 seconds left in Game 5 of the Finals, giving San Antonio a
78-77 victory over the New York Knicks. Tim Duncan averaged 27.4
points, 14 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in the series and was named
Duncan's fellow Twin Tower, David Robinson, also made his
presence known. The perennial All-Star, in his 10th season with the
Spurs, averaged 16.6 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in the
Finals as San Antonio became the first former ABA team to win the
One of the most compelling story lines came to light after the
season ended. Starting forward Sean Elliott revealed that he had
played despite needing a kidney transplant. Elliott, who was
battling a rare kidney disease, received the transplant Aug. 16.
His brother Noel donated the kidney.
Elliott averaged 33.8 minutes in 17 playoff games and was
responsible for the "Memorial Day Miracle." On that play, he
tiptoed the sideline to stay inbounds before hitting a
three-pointer with nine seconds left, lifting the Spurs to an 86-85
win over Portland in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
San Antonio's championship season had an inauspicious beginning
as the Spurs went 6-8 in February. But the players eventually
settled into a groove, and the team got a spark when veteran
swingman Mario Elie joined the starting lineup. The Spurs went 31-5
after their slow start and they raced through the postseason with a
Duncan was named to the All-NBA First Team for the second year
in a row. He was the only NBA player to finish in the top 10 in
scoring (21.7 ppg, sixth), rebounds (11.4 rpg, fifth), blocks
(2.52, seventh) and field goal percentage (.495, 10th).
1999-2000: Elliott Beats The Odds
The Spurs started the season with a franchise best 14-3 mark. The team then struggled through an 11-12
stretch before finishing the season 28-14, but, on 4/11 at Sacramento, Tim Duncan suffered a torn left lateral
meniscus. The injury eventually required surgery and forced him to miss the remainder of the regular season and
the playoffs. Without Duncan, the Spurs fell to the Suns in four games in the First Round of the 2000 Playoffs in
a series that saw Malik Rose and Jerome Kersey also go down with injuries.
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The biggest story of the season was Sean Elliott. Elliott underwent a kidney transplant on 8/16/99. He spent
the first half of the season as the Spurs television analyst, then on 2/1 he was cleared to return to practice and
the next day joined his team on the court After almost six weeks of practice, he was removed from the injured
list on 3/14. That night he made NBA history, becoming the first player to return to action after an organ transplant. Elliott was a surprise starter and finished with 2 points in 12 minutes vs. the Hawks in front of a crowd of 26,708.
Avery Johnson became the Spurs all-time leader in assists on 12/7 at Indiana, passing Johnny Moore who handed
out 3,865 assists in his nine seasons with San Antonio. Johnson finished the season with 4,237 assists with
David Robinson also hit several milestones during the 1999-2000 season. On 12/18 at Denver, he played in his
710th game with the Spurs to pass George Gervin to become the team’s all-time NBA leader in games played, then on 2/18 vs. Houston, he recorded seven steals to become the Spurs all-time leader in steals, passing Alvin Robertson. Also during the season Robinson scored his 17,000th career point (vs. Washington on 12/11) and his 18,000th career point (vs. Sacramento on 4/5).
2000-01: Spurs Compile League's Top Record
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For the fourth time in franchise history San Antonio complied the NBA’s best overall record during the regular season sporting a 58-24 mark during the 2000-01 campaign. The Spurs posted the fourth best winning percentage (.707) in franchise history while on the way to capturing their 11th division title.
Tim Duncan led the league with 66 double-doubles for the third time in his four seasons. Duncan was also named to both the All-NBA First Team and the All-NBA Defensive Team for the third straight season, while finishing runner-up to Allen Iverson for MVP.
With an 86-79 victory over Houston on 12/19, Gregg Popoovich moved to the top of San Antonio’s all-time victory list, passing Doug Moe’s total of 177 wins as coach of the Spurs. Popovich also passed Moe for the most games as head coach of the Spurs with 360.
The 2000-01 Spurs featured a balanced inside-outside offensive attack and a stingy defense to rank at or near the top of the NBA in several statistical categories. The Spurs led the league in three categories and were among the top 12 in the NBA in several others. The Spurs finished first in the league in blocked shots (7.02), 3-point FG% (.407) and tied for first in defensive 3-point FG% (.329).
The 2000-01 season also marked the first time in franchise history San Antonio led the NBA in home attendance. The Spurs drew 913,175 fans to 41 regular season home games for an average of 22,273 fans per game. The Spurs did not disappoint their fans either, posting a 33-8 home record which was tied for tops in the league with Sacramento.
The Spurs made the playoffs for the 11th time in 12 years. The Spurs used their homecourt advantage to better the Minnesota Timberwolves 3-1 in the first round and the Dallas Mavericks 4-1 in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. San Antonio’s season was cut short by the L.A. Lakers 4-0 in the Western Conference Finals.
2001-02: Duncan Enjoys MVP Season
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San Antonio mustered another strong regular season, finishing with a 58-24 record, identical to the 2000-01 season.
Tim Duncan elevated his game even higher during the 2001-02 campaign, as the fifth year pro captured the league’s MVP award. Duncan finished fifth in the league in points, second in rebounding, tied for third in blocks and sixth in minutes. He led the Spurs in scoring 70 times and in rebounding 69 times while accounting for 26.3% of the team’s total points and 30.0% of the team’s total rebounds. Duncan also set a new career-high for points with 53 against the Dallas Mavericks on 12/26.
David Robinson made Spurs history when he slammed down his 19,384th point at 6:20 mark of the first quarter vs. Cleveland on 11/16. With that dunk Robinson became the Spurs all-time NBA scoring leader surpassing George Gervin. Robinson was not finished with his milestones yet. The Admiral scored his 20,000th point on 3/5 vs. Golden State. Robinson was the 27th player all-time and 10th center to reach that plateau.
Youth was served for San Antonio on 10/30 vs. the L.A. Clippers when 19-year old Tony Parker entered the game at the 8:26 mark to become the youngest player to appear in a game in franchise history. Parker’s tender age did not slow him down as the rookie earned starting duties on 11/6 vs. Orlando. His play earned him a trip to the ‘got milk?’ Rookie Challenge at All-Star weekend and a spot on the All-Rookie First Team.
The Spurs led the NBA in attendance for the second straight season as 906,390 fans passed through the doors of the Alamodome. Over 41 home dates San Antonio averaged 22,107 fans per game including a season-high 35,052 vs. Washington on 12/5. The 2001-02 campaign also marked the Spurs final season in the Alamodome, where they posted a 258-95 record.
San Antonio met an eager Seattle SuperSonics team in the 2002 Western Conference Quarterfinals. Tony Parker continued his strong play in the playoffs as he almost doubled his season scoring average posting 17.2 points as the Spurs edged the Sonics 3-2. For the second year in a row, the Spurs had the Los Angeles Lakers end their season this time by a 4-1 margin.
2002-03: We Are The Champions...Again
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San Antonio takes NBA title.
Tim Duncan became the first player since Michael Jordan to win back-to-back regular season MVP honors …
ranked in the top 10 in points (seventh with 23.3), rebounds (third with 12.9), blocks (third with 2.93) and FG
percentage (seventh with a .513 mark) … of course the regular season was just a warm-up for Duncan … in the
postseason he averaged 24.7 points, 15.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 3.29 blocks in 42.5 minutes … Duncan led
the Spurs to their second NBA Championship in a five-year span and was named the 2003 Finals MVP (after
averaging 24.2 points, 17.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 5.33 blocks in the Finals).
The Spurs Championship served as a perfect ending to a perfect career … prior to the 2002-03 season David
Robinson announced it would be his last … his 14th and final season with the Spurs was a memorable one …
he finished his NBA career with 20,790 points and 10,497 rebounds making him one of just 12 players in league
history in the 20,000 point, 10,000 rebound club … a 10-time All-Star, Robinson was the 1995 NBA MVP, the
1992 NBA Defensive Player of the Year and the 1990 NBA Rookie of the Year … he led the league in scoring in
1994, in rebounding in 1991 and in blocked shots in 1992 to join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as one of two players
in NBA history to accomplish the feat.
Rookie guard Manu Ginobili made an immediate impact and quickly became a fan favorite … the Argentina native
– who the Spurs selected with the 57th pick in the 1999 NBA Draft – joined the team after spending the previous
three seasons playing in the Italian League … he was named to the 2003 All-Rookie Second Team after averaging
7.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists during the 2002-03 campaign.
The Spurs moved into a new home for the 2002-03 campaign … although the Spurs and their fans loved both the
HemisFair Arena and the Alamodome, the SBC Center was their first home conceived, designed and built with
the Spurs in mind (unlike the HemisFair Arena – which was built for the 1968 World’s Fair – and the Dome – which
was built by the city of San Antonio as a multi-use sports and entertainment venue) … in their first season in the
SBC Center the Spurs sold out 21 games, averaging 17,950 fans per game in the 18,797-seat facility.
2003-04: Defending The Title
Tim Duncan has accomplished in seven seasons what most players don’t accomplish in an entire career.
During the Tim Duncan era the Spurs have made winning a habit, posting a regular season record of 379-163 in his seven NBA seasons … the Spurs
winning percentage of .699 during his career is the best in the NBA over this seven-year span … not only have the Spurs enjoyed the best winning percentage in the NBA
over this period – during the last seven seasons they actually have the highest winning percentage of any team in the four major sports (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL) … in
the Duncan era the Spurs have won two NBA Championships (1999 and 2003), have finished with the NBA’s best regular season record three times (‘98-99, ‘00-01 and
‘02-03) and have captured four Midwest Division titles (‘98-99, ‘00-01, ‘01-02 and ‘02-03)
When you combine a defensive force like Tim Duncan, who has received All-Defensive honors in each of his seven seasons, and Gregg Popovich, a
coach who emphasizes defense, you get one of the most dominant defensive teams in the NBA … it makes sense that the Spurs have been ranked in the top five in the
NBA in both opponent FG% and opponent PPG in each of the last seven seasons … during the 2003-04 campaign the Spurs led the league in opponent FG% (with a .409
mark) and were tied with the Pistons for the lowest opponent PPG (both teams giving up just 84.3 ppg) … both marks set NBA record lows for an 82 game season (the
all-time lows of 83.4 ppg allowed by Atlanta and a .402 opponent FG percentage by the Spurs both occurred during the 50 game 1998-99 campaign) … in fact during the
seven year span the Spurs have recorded three of the lowest opponent field goal percentage marks in NBA history: .402 in ‘98-99, .409 in ‘03-04 and .411 in ‘97-98 …
The 2004 postseason marked the seventh consecutive playoff appearance for the Spurs … the Spurs have made the playoffs in 14 of the last 15
years, missing only the 1996-97 season in which David Robinson played only six games … in their NBA history, the Spurs have earned a playoff berth in 24 out of their
28 NBA seasons … only the Lakers, with 26 postseason appearances, have made more trips to the playoffs during the 28-year span … the Spurs have an all-time NBA
postseason record of 105-101 (.510) which is sixth best among current NBA franchises.
The Spurs got off to a slow start in the 2003-04 season … with a 9-10 record on December 4 the Spurs found themselves at the bottom of
the Midwest Division and in 25th place in the NBA … but thanks to their recent history the Spurs didn’t panic … instead the team won 13 straight games from December 5 to
December 28 … San Antonio then won their final 11 games of the regular season to finish with a 57-25 mark (which was the third best record in the league behind only Indiana
and Minnesota) … this marked only the second time in Spurs history that they have posted two win streaks of ten games or more in the same season … the only other time
the Spurs accomplished the feat was during the 2001-02 campaign when they won 10 straight in both December and March … although the Spurs start slow out of the gate,
they have a habit of finishing strong … in their worst start of the Tim Duncan era the Spurs started the ‘98-99 season with a 6-8 mark … the team then went 31-5 to end the
season en route to the Spurs first NBA Championship … the Spurs also started slow in the 2002-03 season when they claimed their second NBA title … after a 12-9 start the
Spurs finished the season with a 48-13 run … the Spurs slow start in 2003-04 did not produce a third championship as San Antonio was knocked out by Los Angeles in the
Western Conference Semifinals.
Tim Duncan has accomplished in seven seasons what most players don’t accomplish in an entire career … he accomplished another
NBA feat in 2003-04 when he was named to the All-NBA First Team for the seventh straight year … he joins a short list of Hall of Famers who have been named to the
All-NBA First Team in each of their first seven seasons: Elgin Baylor (each of his first 10 seasons), Bob Pettit (first 10), Larry Bird (first 9) and Oscar Robertson (first 9)
… by earning a spot on the 2004 All-Defensive Second Team, Duncan became just the second player in NBA history to be named to both an All-NBA team and an
All-Defensive team in each of his first seven seasons (joining former teammate David Robinson who earned the honors each of his first seven seasons as well) … of
course Duncan just adds this hardware to the awards he has captured in the past including two regular season MVP awards (2002 and 2003), a pair of Finals MVP
awards (1999 and 2003), the 1998 Rookie of the Year award and his trophy for being named the co-MVP of the 2000 NBA All-Star Game.
Bruce Bowen earned a spot on the 2004 All-Defensive First Team … it was Bowen’s first selection to the All-Defensive First Team after
earning All-Defensive Second Team honors in each of the previous three seasons … he becomes just the fourth Spur to earn All-Defensive honors three-or-more times
joining David Robinson (nine selections), Tim Duncan (seven) and Alvin Robertson (four) … within NBA circles, Bowen—who guards everyone from point guards to power
forwards—joins an elite group of nine swingmen who have earned All-Defensive Team honors in four-or-more straight seasons … they are: Kobe Bryant (‘00-04), Don
Chaney (‘72-75), Doug Christie (‘01-04), Walt Frazier (‘69-75), John Havlicek (‘69-76), Michael Jordan (‘88-93), Scottie Pippen (‘90-00) and Alvin Robertson (‘86-91).
During the 2003-04 season the Spurs had the best record within the conference of any team in the Western Conference posting a 35-17
record versus Western foes … the Spurs also had the best inter-divisional record in the Midwest Division with a 15-9 record within the division that sent six teams to the 2004 Playoffs.
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2004-05: Recapturing the Ring
Since Tim Duncan joined the Spurs for the 1997-98 season, the team has enjoyed remarkable success ... the Spurs not only own the best record in NBA,
going 438-186 over that span, but also have the best winning percentage of any team in the four major sports during the eight year span ... during this period the Spurs have won
three NBA titles (1999, 2003, 2005), held the NBA's best record three times ('98-'99, '00-'01, '02-'03), and earned five division titles (1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005).
THE DEFENSE NEVER RESTS: A great deal of the success that the Spurs have enjoyed during the Tim Duncan era can be attributed to the team's commitment
to defense ... the Spurs continued their stingy defensive trends during the 2004-05 season allowing only 88.4 points per contest, best in the league, while holding
opponents to a .426 mark from the field, which was third best in the NBA ... during the Duncan era, which spans the last eight seasons, the Spurs have ranked in
the top five in both opponent's field goal percentage and opponent's points per game ... the Spurs set NBA record lows for an 82 game season for opponent's
points per game (84.3) and field goal percentage (40.9%) during the 2003-04 season.
ALL-NBA ALL-THE-TIME: Tim Duncan earned his eighth consecutive selection to the All-NBA First Team when the NBA announced the 2004-05 All-NBA teams
on 5/18 ... Duncan is only the fifth player to make the All-NBA First Team in each of his first eight seasons, joining Hall of Famers Larry Bird, George Mikan, Bob
Pettit and Oscar Robertson on the list of players to make earn first team honors in each of their first eight seasons ... Duncan received 553 total points in balloting
by a 124-person media panel, trailing only Miami's Shaquille O'Neal (616) and Phoenix's Steve Nash (606), who was named the league's MVP ... Dallas' Dirk
Nowitzki and Philadelphia's Allen Iverson rounded out the first team ... Duncan is one of only three Spurs to be named to the All-NBA First Team ... George
Gervin (five times) and David Robinson (four times) are the only other Spurs players to be recognized on the All-NBA First Team squad.
D IS THE KEY: Bruce Bowen and Tim Duncan were recognized as the cornerstones of Spurs defense by being named to the 2005 NBA All-Defensive First Team ...
Bowen and Duncan's selection marked the first time that teammates were named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team since the 1997-98 season when Michael
Jordan and Scottie Pippen represented the Bulls on the 1998 All-NBA Defensive First Team.
WITH OR WITHOUT YOU: During the 2004-05 season the Spurs were 9-7 in the 16 games Tim Duncan missed due to injury ... in his eight-year career the Spurs
are 20-18 (.526) when Duncan is not in the lineup … the Spurs are 418-168 (.713) over the last eight years when Duncan plays.
PROTECTING THE HOME FRONT: In their third season in the SBC Center the Spurs enjoyed their best home record in franchise history … the Spurs were an
NBA-best 38-3 home record during the 2004-05 campaign ... dating back to the 2003-04 season the Spurs won 21 straight home games (from 3/3/04 to 12/3/04)
before falling to Seattle 88-84 on 12/5 (finishing one game short of the team's franchise record of 22-straight home wins) … of course the losing didn't last long as
the Spurs then started a season-long 16-game home winning streak with a 116-97 win over Cleveland on 12/11 … with 38 home wins the Spurs posted the NBA's
best home record since the 1996-97 season when the Bulls were 39-2 and the Jazz went 38-3.
EIGHT IS ENOUGH: During the 2004-05 season the Spurs were 22-2 when Tony Parker handed out eight-or-more assists … when he finished with 10-plus
assists they were a perfect 7-0 ... this success is nothing new for San Antonio ... during Parker's four-year career the Spurs are 49-9 when he registers eight-ormore
assists and 19-1 when he records 10-or-more.
OVERTIME MADNESS: With a 125-124 double overtime win at the Los Angeles Clippers on 4/9 and a 136-134 double overtime win at the Golden State Warriors the following
night the Spurs made NBA history becoming the first team in history to win back-to-back double overtime games (only two other teams have played back-to-back
double-overtime games: the Minneapolis Lakers during the 1951-52 season and the Vancouver Grizzlies during the 1998-99 campaign) … the Spurs back-to-back double
overtime wins are even more impressive due to the fact that the Spurs were without Tim Duncan and Devin Brown for the Clippers game and then had to play without
Duncan, Brown, Manu Ginobili and Rasho Nesterovic against the Warriors (the four players who missed the Golden State game averaged a combined 49.6 points per game
during the 2004-05 season) … the combined 261 points over the two games was the Spurs highest two-game total since the 1990-91 campaign (when they scored 271
points - on 11/3 and 11/7 - in two games to open the season).
THE BIG PAYOFF: The Spurs made their first in-season trade since the 1995-96 campaign when they obtained Nazr Mohammed from the Knicks on 2/24 … in 23 games
with the Spurs he averaged 6.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.43 blocks in 18.0 minutes (including 11.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.40 blocks in 29.6 minutes in five starts) …
the Spurs previous in-season trade occurred on 2/8/96 when Charles Smith and Monty Williams were obtained from the Knicks in exchange for J.R. Reid and Brad Lohaus.
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: The Spurs 2004-05 roster featured six players born outside of the United States … the Spurs and the Jazz both led the way with
six international players … at one point in the season the Spurs had seven international players before waiving African-born Romain Sato on February 26.
CENTURY CLUB: When the Spurs hit the century mark during the 2004-05 season they were practically unbeatable ... during the regular season the Spurs were 28-2 when
they reached the century mark ... the Spurs only reached the century mark 18 times during the 2003-04 campaign ... over the past three seasons the Spurs have gone 73-4
when they have scored 100 or more points in a game, which is the second highest winning percentage over a three year period when hitting the 100 point mark in NBA history.
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