San Antonio Spurs

Sun, 08 Feb 2009 10:06

History of San Antonio Spurs

Information about the NBA team San Antonio Spurs.


The San Antonio Spurs are one of the former teams of the ABA that merged with the NBA in 1976. Before they became the Spurs, the team was known as the Dallas Chaparrals from 1967 to 1973. They were one of the founding teams of the ABA but they failed to get good fan support. When the team missed the ABA Playoffs during the 1972-1973 season, team owners decided to sell the Dallas team. It was then acquired by businessmen from San Antonio headed by Angelo Drossos and Red McCombs. The team was moved from Dallas to San Antonio and they were renamed the Spurs.

As the San Antonio Spurs, the team got their needed fan support, even though they lost their first game to the San Diego Conquistadors. The team was known for their defense as they held their opponents to less than 100 points for 49 games. The original team of San Antonio Spurs was led by James Silas, Swen Nater, and the “Iceman” George Gervin. Although effective as a defensive squad, the team owners did not like their style of play thus they fired then coach Tom Nissalke. Bob Bass would be his replacement and would usher in a different style where Gervin and Silas shined.

The move to the NBA

In 1976, the San Antonio Spurs were absorbed into the NBA after the ABA decided to fold. They were one of four teams –the others being the Denver Nuggets, the Indiana Pacers, and the New York Nets– to enter the league. Many people questioned if the newly acquired teams are capable of playing in the NBA-level. The San Antonio Spurs proved them wrong as they made immediate impact with a 44-38 record in their first season. In the 1977-1978 season, George Gervin was gunning for the NBA scoring title. He was up against David Thompson, member of the Denver Nuggets which is another former ABA team.

Although a consistent playoff team, the San Antonio Spurs kept losing in the post-season. During the 1977-1978 season, the San Antonio Spurs fell to the Washington Bullets in 6 games. The next year, they would lose again to the Bullets even though they had a commanding 3-1 series lead. In their first 7 years, the San Antonio Spurs have already acquired 5 division titles. Yet, they were unable to make it to the NBA Finals. In 1983, the San Antonio Spurs needed only four more wins to get to the NBA Finals but they were stopped short by Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers.

Gervin’s departure and Robinson’s arrival

George Gervin was traded to the Chicago Bulls by the end of the 1984-1985 season. His departure had weakened the San Antonio Spurs and the team suffered disappointing seasons from 1985 to 1989. However, during that span, the San Antonio Spurs have earned their new star player in David Robinson. He was drafted first overall in the 1987 NBA Draft. Yet, Robinson did not play during his draft year since he was committed to serving the Navy. He began playing in the NBA during the 1989-1990 season. This was the beginning of a new era for the San Antonio Spurs.

New players aside from Robinson were shaping the San Antonio Spurs into a Western Conference powerhouse. The team got Terry Cummings and had drafted Sean Elliott in the 1989 NBA Draft. They were able to reach the playoffs again but they lost in the semifinals to the Portland Trail Blazers. David Robinson also had the Rookie of the Year honors with an average of 24.3 points and 12 rebounds per game. In the next two years, the San Antonio Spurs were always in the playoff picture but they were unable to reach the championship. Thus, the team fired their coach Larry Brown and was replaced by Jerry Tarkanian the following season.

Tarkanian was not the right coach for the San Antonio Spurs as he started the 1992-1993 season with a 9-11 record. He was fired and replaced by John Lucas. The team gained their groove back as they reached that season’s playoffs, only to lose in the semi-finals to the Phoenix Suns. The following year, the San Antonio Spurs had a strong record with 55-27, earning them another shot at glory. However, they were defeated in the first round by the Utah Jazz. This led to the removal of John Lucas from his coaching duties, to be replaced by Bob Hill.

The team had already traded Sean Elliott to the Detroit Pistons to get Dennis Rodman, a strong rebounder which would also help the team in defense. In the 1994-1995 season, the San Antonio Spurs got Sean Elliott back and David Robinson was able to snag the Most Valuable Player trophy. That year, they were able to reach the Western Conference Finals but they were beaten by the eventual NBA Champions, the Houston Rockets. Although a strong playoff team, the San Antonio Spurs were having off-court problems with Rodman. Thus, he was traded to the Chicago Bulls.

Tim Duncan’s supremacy

By the 1996-1997 season, David Robinson was lost to an injury. The San Antonio Spurs had a 20-62 record which led to the firing of Bob Hill. He was replaced by Gregg Popovich who was then the General Manager of the team. The San Antonio Spurs also managed to get the top pick in the 1997 NBA Draft which they used to pick the new face of the franchise, Tim Duncan. With his arrival, Duncan formed one half of the San Antonio Spurs’ “Twin Towers” along with David Robinson. In his first season, Duncan led the team back to the playoffs but lost to the Utah Jazz in the semifinals.

The 1998-1999 NBA season was known more for the player lockout which affected the number of games on the season. The San Antonio Spurs had a 37-13 record in the regular season and had a stunning 11-1 tally in the playoffs. This led them to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. They squared off against the New York Knicks, which they dominated to earn their first championship trophy. Tim Duncan was named MVP of that series. In the 1999-2000 season, the San Antonio Spurs were poised to repeat as champions but an injury to Duncan led to the defeat of the team against the Phoenix Suns.

In the 2002-2003 season, David Robinson announced it would be his last year with the team as he planned to retire. Luckily, the team had acquired excellent players such as Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Stephen Jackson, Danny Ferry, Bruce Bowen, Steve Kerr, and Steve Smith. The team finished the regular season with a 60-22 record, earning them a spot in the playoffs. The San Antonio Spurs also cruised in the post-season as they fought off the Phoenix Suns, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Dallas Mavericks. They met with the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals, whom they defeated to give Robinson a new championship before his retirement.

The San Antonio Spurs won the championship again after two years, beating the Detroit Pistons in the 2005 NBA Finals. They would also continue to rebuild their roster, which culminated in another championship against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2007 NBA Finals.