|San Antonio Spurs|
The Spurs are one of four former American Basketball Association (ABA) teams to remain intact in the NBA after the 1976 ABA–NBA merger and the only former ABA team to have won an NBA championship. The Spurs' five NBA championships are the fourth most in history (tied with the Golden State Warriors) behind only the Boston Celtics (17), Los Angeles Lakers (16), and Chicago Bulls (6). The Spurs currently rank first among active franchises for the highest winning percentage in NBA history, and have a winning head-to-head regular season record against every active NBA franchise.
In their 40 NBA seasons since 1976–77, the Spurs have won 22 division titles. They have made the playoffs in 27 of the last 28 seasons (since 1989–90) and have only missed the playoffs four times since entering the NBA; they have not missed the playoffs in the 20 seasons since Tim Duncan was drafted by the Spurs in 1997. With their 50th win in the 2016–17 season, the Spurs extended their record for most consecutive 50-win seasons to 18 (the 1998–99 season was shortened to 50 games because of a lockout and based on their win percentage of .740, would have easily surpassed 50 wins in an 82-game season, and thus extend the record by 2 more seasons). Thus, since the 1997–98 season, the Spurs have had 20 consecutive seasons with a winning percentage of .610 or greater during the regular season which is also an NBA record. The team's success during this period coincides with the tenure of current head coach Gregg Popovich, who had been the team's general manager before replacing Bob Hill in 1996.
The Spurs in San Antonio
The Spurs are the only major professional sports franchise to be located in the San Antonio area, and the city shares a special bond with the team almost unmatched in the rest of the NBA. Spurs players are active members of the San Antonio community, and many former Spurs are still active in San Antonio, like David Robinson's Carver Academy and the George Gervin Youth Center.
In part because of this community involvement, Spurs fans have been among the most loyal in the NBA. The Spurs set several NBA attendance records while playing at the Alamodome, including the largest crowd ever for a NBA Finals game in 1999, and the Spurs continue to sell out the smaller, more intimate AT&T Center on a regular basis. The Spurs' rallying cry of "Go Spurs Go!" has endeared itself to the city of San Antonio, and the phrase pops up all over the city as the season progresses into the playoffs and the Spurs inch closer to a possible title.
San Antonio has also garnered praise for the way its citizens celebrate Spurs championships. When the Spurs win a title, San Antonians jam up the streets downtown, march around waving flags, throw confetti and honk car horns until dawn, but with little incidence of crime. There has yet to be a major riot involving a Spurs title celebration.
Early franchise history in the ABA
The San Antonio Spurs started out as the Dallas Chaparrals of the original version of the American Basketball Association (ABA) in 1967. The team suffered from poor attendance and general disinterest in Dallas. In fact, during the 1970-1971 season, the name "Dallas" was dropped in favor of "Texas" and an attempt was made to make the team a regional one, playing games in Fort Worth, Texas, at the Tarrant County Coliseum, as well as Lubbock, Texas, at the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum, but this proved a failure and the team returned full-time to Dallas in time for the 1971-1972 season, splitting their games at Moody Coliseum and Dallas Convention Center Arena.
After missing the playoffs for the first time in their existence in 1972-1973, the team was put up for sale. The team was acquired by a group of 36 San Antonio businessmen, led by John Schaefer, Angelo Drossos and Red McCombs who actually leased the team from the original Dallas ownership group, relocated the team to San Antonio, Texas and renamed them the Spurs. The team's primary colors were changed from the red, white, and blue of the Chapparrals to the now familiar silver and black motif of the Spurs.
The team quickly made themselves at home at San Antonio's HemisFair Arena playing to increasingly large and raucous crowds. The early Spurs were led by ABA veteran James Silas and bolstered by the acquisition in early-1974 of future NBA Hall-of-Famer George Gervin from the Virginia Squires. Even though playoff success would elude the team in the ABA, the Spurs had suddenly found themselves among the top teams in the ABA. In 1976, the ABA folded, threatening the future of San Antonio's sole professional sports franchise. The NBA however decided to admit four ABA teams into the league, with the Spurs being one of them along with the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and, the New York Nets, now the Brooklyn Nets.
Early NBA seasons
Although there was some initial skepticism in league circles regarding the potential success and talent levels of the incoming ABA teams, the Spurs would prove worthy of NBA inclusion during the 1975-1976 season with a record of 44-38, good for a tie for fourth place overall in the Eastern Conference. The Spurs would go on to capture 5 division titles in their first 7 years in the NBA and became a perennial playoff participant.
The decade of the 1980s marked both highs, then lows, and an eventual high. For the first few seasons of the decade, the Spurs continued their success of the 1970s with records of 52-30 in 1980-1981, 48-34 in 1981-1982, and 53-29 in 1982-1983. Despite their regular season success, the Spurs were unable to win any NBA championships, losing in the Western Conference playoffs to the Houston Rockets in 1981 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 1982 and 1983.
After the 1984-1985 season, Gervin, who arguably had been the Spurs' biggest star, was traded to the Chicago Bulls in what effectively signaled the end of the era that began when the Spurs first moved to San Antonio.
The next four seasons were a dark time in Spurs' history, with the team having a combined record of 115-215 from 1985-1986 until 1988-1989. The losing seasons and dwindling attendance often caused the Spurs to be mentioned as a potential candidate for relocation to another city. The lone bright spot during this period was the Spurs' being awarded the top pick in the 1987 NBA draft through NBA Draft Lottery. The Spurs used this selection on United States Naval Academy standout David Robinson. Although drafted in 1987, the Spurs would have to wait until the 1989-1990 season to see Robinson actually play due to a two-year commitment he had to serve with the United States Navy.
Although the 1988-1989 season was the worst in Spurs history at 21-61, it was notable for several reasons. It was the first season of full ownership for Red McCombs, who was an original investor in the team and helped solidify local ownership for the team. Additionally, the 1988-1989 season featured the debut of Larry Brown as the Spurs head coach who moved to San Antonio after winning the NCAA National Championship with the University of Kansas in 1988.
As the 1980s ended, the 1989-1990 season proved to be the rebirth of the Spurs franchise. Led by Robinson along with the newly added Terry Cummings and 1989 draftee Sean Elliott, the Spurs achieved the biggest one-season turnaround in NBA History, finishing with a record of 56-26. The Spurs eventually lost in the Western Conference semifinals after losing a seven-game series to the eventual Western Conference champion Portland Trail Blazers. Robinson had one of the most successful rookie seasons for a center in NBA history, finishing the season as Rookie of the Year while averaging 24.3 points and 12.0 rebounds.
The 1990s and a titleThe Spurs began the 1990s with great optimism. The team became a perennial playoff presence although were never able to advance further than the second round of the NBA Playoffs under Brown's tutelage. Late in the 1991-1992 season, McCombs fired Brown and replaced him with Bob Bass who finished the season as interim head coach. McCombs made national headlines during the summer of 1992 with the hiring of former UNLV head coach Jerry Tarkanian. The Tarkanian experiment proved a flop, as the coach was fired 20 games into the 1992-1993 season with the Spurs record at 9-11. After Rex Hughes filled the coaching shoes for one game, NBA veteran John Lucas was named head coach. It was Lucas's first NBA coaching assignment although he had gained recognition in league circles for his success in helping NBA players rehab from drug abuse.
The Lucas era started out successfully. His coaching propelled the team to a 39-22 finish over the rest of the regular season and the team reached the Western Conference semifinals, losing to the Phoenix Suns. The 1992-1993 season also marked the last that the Spurs would play in HemisFair Arena. In 1993 local businessman Peter M. Holt and a group of 22 investors purchased the Spurs from Red McCombs for $75 million.
The following season, the Spurs first in the newly built Alamodome, Lucas led the Spurs to a 55-27 record but the team suffered a loss in the first round of the playoffs to the Utah Jazz which led to the immediate firing of Lucas as head coach. Prior to the season the Spurs traded fan-favorite Elliott to the Detroit Pistons in return for rebounding star Dennis Rodman.
Lucas was replaced by former Pacers coach Bob Hill for the 1994-1995 season which would turn out to be the Spurs' most successful until 2006. Elliott returned to the team after an uneventful season with the Pistons and the team finished with the best record at 62-20 while David Robinson was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player. The Spurs reached the Western Conference Finals, but lost to the eventual NBA Champion Houston Rockets. Throughout the season and particularly in the playoffs there appeared to be friction developing between Rodman and several Spurs' teammates, most notably Robinson, and Rodman was traded after the season to the Chicago Bulls.
The Spurs finished the next season (1995-1996) under Hill at 59-23 and lost in the Western Conference Semifinals to the Jazz. Few observers could have predicted how far the Spurs would fall during the 1996-1997 season. After an injury that limited Robinson to six games during the season, the Spurs wound up with a 20-62 record, the worst in franchise history. Hill only lasted 18 games that season, eventually being replaced by Gregg Popovich, who had once been an assistant for the Spurs during Larry Brown's coaching turn.
Although the 1996-1997 season was not successful on the court for the Spurs, the offseason proved to be the opposite. With the third-worst record in the league, the Spurs won the NBA's draft lottery which gave them the top pick in the 1997 draft. The Spurs used their pick to select Wake Forest University product and consensus All-American Tim Duncan.
Duncan quickly emerged as a force in the NBA during the 1997-1998 season, averaging 21.1 points and 11.9 rebounds per game as a power forward. He was named First Team All-NBA while winning Rookie of the Year honors. The team ended up at 56-26 but once again lost to the Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals. While both Duncan and Robinson played low-post roles, the two seamlessly meshed on the court.
With a healthy Robinson and Duncan and the additions of playoff veterans such as Mario Elie and Jerome Kersey, the Spurs looked forward to the 1998-1999 season. Prior to the beginning of training camps however, the NBA owners led by commissioner David Stern locked out the players in order to force a new collective bargaining agreement with the NBA Players Association (NBAPA). The season was delayed over three months until resolution on a new labor agreement was reached in January 1999.
Playing a shortened 50-game season, the Spurs ended up with a 37-13 record. The team was just as dominant in the playoffs, rolling through the Western Conference with a record of 11-1. They faced the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals and, on June 25, 1999, won the series and the franchise's first NBA Championship in Game 5 (final score: 78-77) on the Knicks' home court of Madison Square Garden. Duncan was named the Finals MVP. The victory by the Spurs was not only the first NBA title to be won by a former ABA team, but also was the first Finals appearance by a team from the ABA.
The Spurs were not able to capitalize on their success during the 1999-2000 season. Although they finished with an overall record of 53-29, the Spurs lost in the first round to the Suns primarily due to an injury to Duncan which kept him out of the playoff series. The longterm viability of the Spurs franchise in San Antonio was however achieved during the 1999-2000 season, as Bexar County voters approved increases on car rental and hotel taxes which would allow for the construction of a new arena near Freeman Coliseum.
A new century, a new era
The Spurs finished with 58-24 records for both the 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 seasons but found themselves suffering playoff ousters in both seasons from the eventual NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Prior to the 2002-2003 season, the team revealed their new logo, dumping the "fiesta colors" which had become unpopular with fans. Entering the 2002-2003 season, the team knew it would be memorable for at least two reasons, as David Robinson announced that it would be his last in the NBA and the Spurs would begin play at their new arena (approved in 1999 by County voters), the SBC Center (now the AT&T Center), named after telecommunications giant SBC, whose corporate headquarters are located in San Antonio. This version of the Spurs was very different from the team that had won the title a few years earlier. The Spurs had remade their team in an attempt to dethrone the three-time defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers. Second-year French star Tony Parker was now the starting point guard for the Spurs and the squad featured a variety of three-point shooters including Stephen Jackson, Danny Ferry, Bruce Bowen, Steve Kerr, Steve Smith and Argentina product Manu Ginobili. Mixing the inside presences of Duncan and Robinson with the newer outside threats, the Spurs earned a 60-22 record. In the playoffs, the Spurs defeated the Suns, Lakers and Dallas Mavericks en route to facing the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals. The series against the Nets marked the first time two former ABA teams would play each other for the NBA Championship. The Spurs won the series 4-2, giving them their second NBA Championship in franchise history. Duncan was named both the NBA Regular Season and Finals MVP for the season.
In the 2003-2004 season, the Spurs were knocked out of the playoffs by the Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals. The Lakers rallied from a 0-2 hole in the series and won 4 straight. The series was defined by a controversial game-winning shot in Game 5 by Derek Fisher with 0:00.4 left in the game. After the stunning loss, the Spurs traveled to Los Angeles for Game 6, where they lost the game and the series. The Spurs spent the following offseason tweaking the team.
With the acquisition of guard Brent Barry from Seattle, and the later additions of center Nazr Mohammed from New York (acquired in a midseason trade of Malik Rose to the dismay of Spurs fans), and veteran forward Glenn Robinson from free agency, alongside regulars Bruce Bowen, Robert Horry, Tony Parker, Manu Ginóbili, and Tim Duncan, the Spurs finished the 2004-2005 season ranked number two in the Western Conference with a 59-23 record, finishing with the best record in the Southwest Division. In the postseason the Spurs defeated the Denver Nuggets 4-1, the Seattle Supersonics 4-2 and the Phoenix Suns 4-1 before advancing to the NBA Finals, where they won the NBA championship for a third time in seven years by defeating the Eastern Conference champion and defending NBA Champion Detroit Pistons 4-3 on June 23, 2005. Tim Duncan was named Finals MVP, becoming only the fourth player to win the MVP award three times (joining Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Michael Jordan). Also, Manu Ginobili established himself as a NBA star, earning local, national, and international fan praise (particularly in his home country of Argentina) and a berth in that season's All-Star Game.
In the 2005-2006 season, the Spurs broke their franchise record for wins in a season (63-19) and qualified for the playoffs for the ninth year in a row. (The Spurs and Indiana Pacers currently share the NBA's longest active consecutive playoff appearance streak with nine in a row — see Active NBA playoff appearance streaks.) However, the defending-champion Spurs were eliminated in the second round by the Dallas Mavericks in a 7-game semifinal series that, due to a quirk in the playoff ranking system, featured the two top teams in the conference.
The Spurs look poised to contend for several titles to come. The three key players (Duncan, Ginobili, Parker) are under contract until at least 2009. The Spurs had hoped to buy out the contract of Ginobili's countryman Luis Scola, a power forward whom the Spurs had drafted in 2002; however, it appears that the Spurs are looking to trade the rights to Scola even though the asking price of TAU Cerámica is down to $3.5 million, keeping the possibility open that they could still pursue him.
The Spurs lightened their salary cap by trading Rasho Nesterovic to Toronto for Matt Bonner and Eric Williams. They have also signed two centers, Jackie Butler and Francisco Elson, to replace Nesterovic and Nazr Mohammed (who signed with the Detroit Pistons as a free agent). The Spurs have also signed a third point guard, veteran Jacque Vaughn.
Spurs fans have made links with Tottenham Hotspur F.C., with the two teams having mutual support for each other. The clubs are planning a buisness agreement whereby each other's merchandise is sold at the other club (similar to Manchester United F.C. and New York Yankees).
Dallas (Texas) Chaparrals
- State Fair Coliseum (1967-1973)
- Moody Coliseum (1967-1973)
- Tarrant County Coliseum (1970-1971)
- Lubbock Municipal Coliseum (1970-1971)
San Antonio Spurs
Players of note
For a complete list of current and former players, see the San Antonio Spurs players category.
- George "The Iceman" Gervin - 1996
- Moses Malone - 2001
- Dominique Wilkins - 2006
- David Robinson - 2009
- Artis Gilmore - 2011
- Dennis Rodman - 2011
- 00 - Johnny Moore, G, 1980-88 & 1989-90
- 13 - James Silas, G, 1972-81 (including the last season in Dallas)
- 32 - Sean Elliott, F, 1989-93 & 1994-2001
- 44 - George Gervin, G, 1974-85
- 50 - David Robinson, C, 1989-2003
Not to be forgotten
- 40 - Willie Anderson
- 34 - Terry Cummings
- 15 - Vinny Del Negro
- 35 - Danny Ferry
- 53 - Artis Gilmore
- 24, 3 - Stephen Jackson
- 6 - Avery Johnson
- 4, 25 - Steve Kerr
- 45 - Chuck Person
- 21 - Alvin Robertson
- 10 - Dennis Rodman
- 31 - Malik Rose
- 21 - Dominique Wilkins
- 42 - Kevin Willis
|San Antonio Spurs|
|Head Coach: Gregg Popovich||Edit|
|SG||17||Brent Barry||(Oregon State)|
|SF||12||Bruce Bowen||(Cal State Fullerton)|
|F/C||45||Jackie Butler||(Coastal Christian Academy (VA))|
|PF||21||Tim Duncan||(Wake Forest)
|G/F||34||Melvin Sanders||(Oklahoma State)|
|(FA) - Free Agent||San Antonio Spurs|
Table below indicates each player's most frequently played positions in bold and with link.
Secondary positions are in normal text and unlinked.
- Primary: the usual starter and player likely to get the most minutes in that position.
- Substitute: consistently comes off bench and receives regular minutes.
- Fill-in: either plays only occasionally or fills in a non-standard role for a brief period.
|Tony Parker||Patty Mills
|Manu Ginobili||Brent Barry|
|Kawhi Leonard||Eric Williams|
|Danny Green||Matt Bonner Fabricio Oberto||Michael Finley|
|Pau Gasol||Jackie Butler|
The Spurs have been uncommonly successful among NBA teams in finding foreign talent as demonstrated by selecting Manu Ginobili (1999 NBA Draft 57th pick) and Tony Parker (2001 NBA Draft 29th pick) who have both become All Stars. The Spurs own the NBA rights to the players listed in the table below. The typical pattern is to allow the player to develop in leagues outside the USA. The player is free to negotiate contracts in other leagues and is not obligated to play in the NBA.
|C||Robertas Javtokas||2001 NBA Draft||56th pick|
|C||Sergey Karaulov||2004 NBA Draft||58th pick|
|PF||Ian Mahinmi||2005 NBA Draft||28th pick|
|SF||Viktor Sanikidze||2004 NBA Draft||42nd pick|
|PF||Luis Scola||2002 NBA Draft||56th pick|
- Wheaties covers - A collection of Wheaties covers featuring the San Antonio Spurs.
- San Antonio Spurs official website
- San Antonio Spurs Official Summer Pro League website
- Official Website of Tim Duncan
- NBA Wire Message Board
- Basketball-Reference.com Spurs Draft History
- SpursTalk.com Fan Forum
- TheStonecutter.org Spurs Fan Forum
- SpursCentral.com Fan Forum
|National Basketball Association|
1996 and 1997 and 1998
San Antonio Spurs
| Succeeded by|
Los Angeles Lakers
2000 and 2001 and 2002
Los Angeles Lakers
2000 and 2001 and 2002
San Antonio Spurs
| Succeeded by|
San Antonio Spurs
| Succeeded by|
San Antonio Spurs
| Succeeded by|