- NBA Championships: 5
- Last NBA Championship: 2014
- Claim to Fame: The Spurs have made the playoffs every year since 1998.
- Claim to Shame: The Spurs gave Bruce Bowen license to jeopardize the careers of NBA jump shooters with his overly aggressive closeouts.
If ever there was a team you could set your watch to, it would be the San Antonio Spurs. Originally known as the Dallas Chaparrals, this beloved franchise dominated the now defunct ABA during the late 60’s and early 70’s, winning an average of 42 games during their first nine years in existence.
The Spurs’ winning ways continued unabated when they joined the NBA in 1976 thanks to larger-than-life figures like George Gervin and Artis Gilmore, both of whom are now enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame. The two All-Stars powered San Antonio to multiple 50-win seasons and a pair of trips to the Western Conference Finals.
The Spurs turned the corner from good to great in 1997 when they promoted Gregg Popovich to head coach. The wily bench boss won 56 games in his first full year and guided the Spurs to their first NBA title during 1999’s strike-shortened season.
San Antonio became a model of consistency under Popovich’s tutelage and would go on to win 12 more division titles, five more conference titles, and four more NBA championships over the next 19 years. They weren’t always the most athletic or most talented team during that span, but they continually executed their game plan at a high level and made other teams pay for their mistakes and mental lapses.
Popovich led San Antonio to the playoffs again in 2017-18, but it was far from a prototypical Spurs campaign as the team dealt with internal strife caused by Kawhi Leonard’s prolonged absence.
The disgruntled forward has since been shipped to Toronto along with Danny Green for four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan and promising big man Jakob Poeltl. They’ll join a new-look Spurs squad that will also be missing long-time point guard Tony Parker, who signed with the Hornets, and Manu Ginobili, who retired in the summer.
Getting back to the top of the hill won’t be easy, but if anyone can make sense of San Antonio’s roster and its glut of mid-range shooters it’s Popovich. History has taught us never to count him out.