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Written off as too old last year, the Spurs went out and racked up 58 wins, obliterated the competition in the Western Conference playoffs and came within SECONDS of raising a fifth banner until the Miami Heat stormed back to claim their 2nd consecutive title. Disregard the Spurs chances at your own risk. With the best coach in the game, three future first ballot Hall-of-Famers and a stellar supporting cast, the Spurs are one of favorites to return to the Finals. Again.
A Brief History
Established as an ABA team called the Dallas Chaparrals in 1967 (Chaparral, if you’re scoring at home, is a type of dense vegetation), the Spurs made the move to San Antonio in 1973 and despite being in a relatively small market, the team has been among the attendance leaders in the NBA ever since. In 1976, the Spurs joined the NBA along with the Pacers, Nets and Nuggets. With the legendary George Gervin leading the way, the Spurs were an immediate factor in the league, winning their division five times in their first seven NBA seasons. To date the Spurs have missed the playoffs only four times since entering the league.
While the San Antonio Spurs were a perennial playoff team, they couldn’t quite get over the hump with the Lakers and Celtics carving out dynasties. But the Spurs’ fortunes changed forever in the 1987 NBA Draft. With the first overall pick, the Spurs chose David Robinson from the US Naval Academy, with the knowledge that they would have to wait two years for his arrival. The Admiral was well worth the wait. A unanimous selection as Rookie of Year in 1990, Robinson helped turn the Spurs into legitimate contenders in the Western Conference.
Riddled by injuries throughout the 1996-97 season, the Spurs fell off the map, going 20-62. Mitigating the disappointment, however, the Spurs hired Greg Popovich in the middle of the year and then won the NBA Draft Lottery. With the first pick, the Spurs chose Wake Forest big man Tim Duncan. The rest, as they say, is history.
Any list of the most enduring sports dynasties of the last 50 years has to include the San Antonio Spurs. Under head coach Greg Popovich (the longest tenured coach in the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB), the Spurs have been to the playoffs every year but one (1997), won 9 division titles, 5 conference championships and a remarkable 4 NBA titles.
Back to Business
After coming within moments of winning the title in 2013, the Spurs didn’t have much roster-tweaking to do. Yes, two of the “Big Three” are in their late 30s but both Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan have continued to prove they are more than capable of producing when the Spurs need them most. For his part, Tony Parker just keeps getting better. There are plenty of explosive point guards in the league, but is there anyone else you’d want running the show with a championship on the line? Exactly. The Spurs re-signed Ginobili and Tiago Splitter (two absolute MUSTS) and brought in Marco Belinelli to fill the void left when DeJuan Blair left for Dallas. Plus? After a breakthrough season, Kawhi Leonard looks like a star-in-the-making. Get out to AT&T Center and see one of the great sports franchises in the world on their quest for a fifth NBA titile.