San Antonio Spurs, the biggest team in the NBA news for the summer of 2018, the rift between Kawhi and the franchise has divided the whole fanbase. Some Spurs supporters claim that the Spurs treat their players with the utmost care and honour and Kawhi not playing was his way of wanting to leave. Hence many are calling this the end of the Great Spurs era.
The Spurs franchise in today's day is regarded as one of the all-time best, and most of the credit goes to the current coach Greg Popovich. Popovich who became the head coach of the Spurs in 1996( 22 seasons ago) has led the team to playoffs for 21 seasons straight a feat only achieved by the 76ers of the 50'-71'. Popovich combined with once scout now GM RC Buford have been able to find the best players through the non-lottery draft picks.
Popovich has many times claimed that his biggest win was drafting Tim Duncan in the draft of 97'. Pop and RC first built a brilliant defensive team with the ' Twin Towers' of Duncan and Robinson. Then after Robinson was getting old, the focus shifted to an All-Star Duncan and rising Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Manu and Duncan were responsible for winning the 2003 and 2005 finals where both of them created a scoring machine Duncan in the post and Manu from mid and the arc. Further, as Parker showed signs of greatness, Pop shifted focus to the one position and won the 2007 championship. Finally, as the Big-3 of Duncan, Manu and Parker got old, Pop created the exquisite ball movement offence and won the 2014 championship and nearly winning the 2013 finals if not for Ray Allen.
But, one thing which sets the Spurs apart is that every season whether the one seed or the 8th seed everyone feared of facing the Spurs in the playoffs which are the real reason they are considered to be one of the best franchises of all time.
#5 - Manu Ginobili
This player is the greatest steal for the NBA and the San Antonio Spurs, Manu was by far the biggest achievement of the current General Manager R.C.Buford. Buford found Manu and convinced the Spurs to draft him as the 57th pick in the 1999 draft. However, it wasn't until 2002 that he joined the franchise, where he was key in their championship run. Manu was injury-ridden during his NBA rookie year but managed to make the All-Rookie 2nd team. During the playoff run against the defending champs Lakers and Nash led Suns, it was Manu's exceptional scoring ability which took his opponents by surprise found it tough to keep up and defend all the players.
Although Manu does not have great individual honours like George Gervin, some believe that his contributions in the Euro League and Gold Medal in 2004 Olympics might put him over. However, these achievements were not a part of his Spurs campaign, he still won a Sixth man of the year award and was a part of the All-rookie second team. Furthermore, he participated in 2 All-Star games for the western conference and 2 All-NBA teams. But Manu does have some in-game records like 3rd most 3pt in playoffs and sixth in the number of playoff games played.
#4 - Tony Parker
Tony Parker is one the biggest superstars in the Spurs franchise history, however, it wasn't that his skill is underrated but it is definitely underappreciated. The reason for this is that Parker skill was appreciated by the analysts but to the fans, he played in the shadows of Duncan and Popovich. Parker was the premier playmaker and ball handler for the course of 4 championships during the Spurs era, unlike Manu who was a shot creator and Duncan who played the post the credit should go to Parker who in reality was the driving force. Parker was also a big threat on the defensive end and this defensive skill won him the Finals MVP in 2007 over Duncan. Moreover, just like Manu Parker was also a draft steal for the Spurs being drafted as the 28th pick found by R.C. Buford himself.
Parker was a little better off than Manu in terms of individual awards and accolades he won during his tenure as a San Antonio Spur. Parker was a part of the All-Rookie First team in 2002 and was also a part of 6xAll-Star teams between 2006-14. Not only this Tony Parker would also be a part of 3 All-NBA teams. He holds the record for most all-time assists in Spurs history. Parker with his skill and achievements is also arguably a part of the top 10 All-time best point guards (the only reason he is above Manu on this list). Tony Parker through his career averaged :
#3 - George Gervin
Drafted in the 3rd round as the 40th pick by the Pheonix Suns, however, at the time the Spurs franchise was in the ABA and Gervin did not want to leave so he continued his career there. Gervin was an important part of the Spurs franchise winning multiple honours and leading the team to playoffs in every season except his first in Virginia( 1972 playoffs). Gervin had an apt nickname ' The Iceman', because of his calm and cool demeanour on the court and not showing a lot of emotion while playing the game.
Gervin as a lot of people argue was the best Spur but since he could never win a championship his position an all the all-time lists are very low. However, he collected throughout his career plenty of individual accolades, which places him very high on the list of players who never won a championship. Gervin was an All-Star for 12 years( 3xABA and 9xNBA) and won the All-Star MVP in 1980. He further made his mark in the game by making the All NBA/ABA teams 9 times. However, his greatest achievement which people discount is his 4 scoring records, and this is during the time when the league was heavily dominated by Big Men like Kareem, Dr J, Moses Malone.
All these records and accolades although could not win him a championship but did set his legacy by being a part of the Top-50 All-time players and the No.44 being retired by the San Antonio Spurs.
#2 - David Robinson
The other 'Twin Tower', Robinson was one of the greatest players drafted and trained by the San Antonio Spurs before the Popovich- RC Buford era. Further, until Tim Duncan was drafted Popovich created the team around Avery Jhonson and David Robinson and team went to the playoffs 1991- 1996. However, David Robinson's one aim was to beat out his archrival Hakeem Olajuwon but lost out to him before he got the support of Duncan. Robinson's nickname as the Twin Tower is very apt, he has defensive honours like 8xAll-NBA Defensive teams and a 1992 Defensive Player of the Year. Robinson has also showcased his talents across the board by winning a scoring champion(94), rebound leader(91) and blocks leader(92).
Not only this, David Robinson was named in the Top-50 players in his 7th year itself( how is that possible!!). Robinson also boasts 2x NBA Championships with 10x NBA All-Star and 10xAll-NBA teams. Moreover, one achievement which for these players goes unnoticed is that he is 1 of 8 players in the Spurs history whose Jersey Number(50) was retired.
For his career David Robinson averaged:
3 Blocks ( HOW??)
#1 - Tim Duncan
The man nicknamed ' Slam Duncan ' is regarded as the Best Power Forward of all time is 5 time NBA champion and 3-time Finals MVP. Arguably he can make the list for top 5 players All Time, however, Bill Russel with his 11 championships might edge him out. Yet the name Duncan stands tall in the of All NBA fans, Analysts and Players, a player which never misused is stardom and led his team to one of the greatest playoff runs. Duncan at the age of 37 and 38 was a key part of the Spurs Finals matchups against Lebron's Miami Heat, something his position rival, Dirk Nowitzki had a tough time doing. Tim averaged 15-10-2 in 2014 Finals and 19-12-1.4-1.4 in 2013 Finals, the 2013 Finals performance would have most probably won him the Finals MVP and his sixth championship. However, a 6-0 finals record and 4 Finals MVP honours were broken by one of the greatest shots by Ray Allen. Duncan further has been presented with defensive honours like 15 All NBA Defensive teams( of out 19 total years!!!) and 15 All NBA selections combined with 15 All-Star team selections. Duncan also has a Rookie of the Year( 1998) All-Star MVP(2000) and two season MVP's( 2002 & 2003).
Duncan finished his career with: