SanAntonio Spurs Information
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 as well as Lubbock, Texas but this proved a failure and the team returned full-time to Dallas in time for the 1971-1972 season.
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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 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.
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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.
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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.
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The next four seasons were a dark time in Spurs' history, with the team having a combined record of 115-215 from 1985-1986 till 1988-1989. The losing seasons and dwindling attendance caused the Spurs to often 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.
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The Spurs began the 1990s with great optimism. The team became a perennial playoff presence although were never able to advance further then 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.
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Lucas was replaced by former Pacers coach Bob Hill for the 1994-1995 season which would turn out to be the Spurs' most successful season to date. 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.
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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 won the series and the franchise's first World Title four games to one 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.
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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 to be constructed near Freeman Coliseum.
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. 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, named after telecommunications giant SBC whose corporate headquarters were 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 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