San Antonio Spurs: NBA Playoffs, Key Players, and Titles
San Antonio Spurs History and Highlights.
The Spurs are one of the most successful teams in NBA history, especially in the last 25 years, winning five NBA championships.
Founding and Early Years
The team started out in 1967 as the Dallas Chaparrals and soon changed their name to Texas Chaparrals. They were a pretty good team on the court but sank financially by their third season. So in 1973, the team decided to move to San Antonio, where they remain.
First Star Player: George “The Iceman” Gervin
Soon after, the San Antonio Spurs snagged George Gervin, who became their first star player. “The Iceman,” as he is known, was the best scorer in the league in the late 1970s and is one of only five players in the history of the NBA who has won the scoring title at least four times.
With Gervin as a leader, the Spurs made it to the conference finals in 1979, where they lost to the Bullets in seven games despite having a 3-1 lead.
The 1980s and 1990s
The Spurs made it to the conference finals twice more in 1982 and 1983 with Gervin but lost to the Los Angeles Lakers on both occasions.
Gervin left in 1985, which saw the Spurs sinking. That brought them the first overall pick in the 1987 NBA Draft, where they selected David Robinson. And while the center decided to stay in the Navy for two more years, he eventually joined the Spurs in 1989. He then stayed there until the end of his career in 2003.
Robinson quickly became one of the best centers in the league; he was a member of the Dream Team and won the MVP award and the scoring title in 1995 but couldn’t take the Spurs to the NBA Finals.
Robinson suffered a leg injury in 1996, which saw the Spurs finishing at the bottom of the Western Conference. That was when Gregg Popovich took over the coaching position, which proved to be a significant move for the Spurs and the league in general.
Being the team with the worst record, the Spurs won the draft lottery and selected Tim Duncan with the first overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. Duncan immediately became an All-Star and formed the “Twin Towers” duo with Robinson.
First NBA Championship
With Robinson fully recovered from his injury, the Spurs quickly became a powerhouse and won their first NBA championship in 1999, defeating the New York Knicks in the finals in five games.
At the beginning of the 2000s, the San Antonio Spurs added French point guard Tony Parker and Argentinian small forward Manu Ginobili, creating probably the best trio of the decade.
The Spurs had a deep playoff run each year and won their second NBA championship in 2003, defeating the New Jersey Nets in the finals in six games, putting an end to the Los Angeles Lakers’ dominance.
Two years later, the Spurs won another ring, defeating the defending champions Detroit Pistons in seven games with Robert Horry’s crucial three-pointer in Game 7 on the road.
The Modern Era
After a couple of poor seasons, the San Antonio Spurs traded for Kawhi Leonard at the 2011 Draft night. That proved to be another magic move by Popovich, who added a player that will get the Spurs back to the throne.
Return to the NBA Finals
Leonard was the fresh force added to the veterans, and the San Antonio Spurs were back in the NBA Finals in 2013. They had a 3-2 lead against the Miami Heat and a three-point lead in the last second of Game 6. However, the Spurs literally ended up one defensive rebound short of winning another NBA title as Ray Allen tied the game and got the Heat back in the series that they will eventually win in Game 7.
The Spurs didn’t back down and returned to the Finals next season, defeating the Heat in five games.
The End of an Era
Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili were past their prime, and Leonard was injured before he forced his way out of San Antonio.
The San Antonio Spurs then traded Leonard for DeMar DeRozan and added All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, but they didn’t see any success.
2019 was the first in 22 years that the Spurs missed the playoffs. Currently, they are in a rebuilding process, with Popovich still coaching.