San Antonio Spurs History

"The Iceman" And "The Admiral" Stand Tall In Spurs' Past And Future

1966-69: In The Beginning
1969-73: A Change Of Names, A Change Of Cities
1973: Franchise Relocates To San Antonio
1973-76: "The Iceman" Arrives
1976-77: Spurs Join The NBA
1977-79: "The Iceman" Duels With "Skywalker"
1979-80: Gervin Stays Hot
1980-81: Key Moves In Store -- New Players And A New Division
1981-83: Spurs Make A Point To Score Often
1983-84: Success No More In 1983-84
1984-85: Losses Shrink With Cotton
1985-87: A Four-Year Drought Begins
1987-89: San Antonio Plans For The Future
1989-90: From Worst To First
1990-92: First Round Not Kind To Spurs
1992-93: Tarkanian's Tenure Brief; Lucas Takes Over
1993-94: King David Can't Take Spurs To The Promised Land
1994-95: Robinson & Co. Surge To 62-Win Season
1995-96: Spurs Can't Shake Playoff Blues
1996-97: Injuries Sink Spurs, But Land Duncan
1997-98: Duncan Spurs Quick Turnaround
1998-99: The Championship Season
1999-2000: Elliott Beats The Odds
2000-01: Spurs Compile League's Top Record
2001-02: Duncan Enjoys MVP Season
2002-03: We Are The Champions...Again
2003-04: Defending The Title
2004-05: Recapturing the Ring
NBA Titles:
1999
2003
2005

Retired Uniform Numbers:
(00) Johnny Moore
(13) James Silas
(32) Sean Elliott
(44) George Gervin
(50) David Robinson

Franchise History:
San Antonio Spurs 1976-
Season    W   L  %
2004-05  59  23 .720
2003-04  57  25 .695
2002-03  60  22 .732
2001-02  58  24 .707
2000-01  58  24 .707
1999-00  53  29 .646
1998-99  37  13 .740
1997-98  56  26 .683        
1996-97  20  62 .244
1995-96  59  23 .720
1994-95  62  20 .756    
1993-94  55  27 .671    
1992-93  49  33 .598    
1991-92  47  35 .573    
1990-91  55  27 .671    
1989-90  56  26 .683    
1988-89  21  61 .256    
1987-88  31  51 .378    
1986-87  28  54 .341    
1985-86  35  47 .427    
1984-85  41  41 .500    
1983-84  37  45 .451    
1982-83  53  29 .646    
1981-82  48  34 .585    
1980-81  52  30 .634    
1979-80  41  41 .500    
1978-79  48  34 .585    
1977-78  52  30 .634    
1976-77  44  38 .537    
"The Iceman" And "The Admiral" Stand Tall In Spurs' Past And Future


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 NBA.

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.
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1967-69: In The Beginning


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.
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1969-73: A Change Of Names, A Change Of Cities


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.
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1973: Franchise Relocates To San Antonio


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.
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1973-76: "The Iceman" Arrives


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, 151-124.

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 championship.
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1976-77: Spurs Join The NBA


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 above .500.

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.
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1977-79: "The Iceman" Duels With "Skywalker"


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 27.15.

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 Rockets.

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.
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1979-80: Gervin Stays Hot


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.
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1980-81: Key Moves In Store-New Players And A New Division


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 game.

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.
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1981-83: Spurs Make A Point To Score Often


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.
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1983-84: Success No More In 1983-84


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.
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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 27 points.

1985-87: A Four-Year Drought Begins


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 career.

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.
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1987-89: San Antonio Plans For The Future


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 Navy.

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 Award.
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1989-90: From Worst To First


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 squad.

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.
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1990-92: First Round Not Kind To Spurs


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.
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1992-93: Tarkanian's Tenure Brief; Lucas Takes Helm


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 million.

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.
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1993-94: King David Can't Take Spurs To The Promised Land


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 76ers.
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1994-95: Robinson & Co. Surge To 62-Win Season


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.
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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.

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 been around."

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 history.

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.
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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 head coach.

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.

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 Playoffs.

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 award.

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.
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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.

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 Finals MVP.

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 NBA title.

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 15-2 record.

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).
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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.

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 the Spurs.

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).
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2000-01: Spurs Compile League's Top Record
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.

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2001-02: Duncan Enjoys MVP Season
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.

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2002-03: We Are The Champions...Again
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.

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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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