The franchise named San Antonio Spurs thrives on being under-the-radar, overlooked and “unsexy.”
The franchise remains the NBA’s model organisation, a small-market team that simply wins big and hardly ever does it with a high draft pick. Instead, they found players overseas or in other organisations who would fit the Spurs’ way of doing things and mesh with Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, who have teamed for 117 postseason victories, the most by one trio.
The Spurs won four titles in nine years, but had to undergo a 7-year drought before winning the 5th NBA Championship in 2014(after beating the LeBron-led heat in the Finals). The Spurs have the highest winning percentage in major pro sports since 1997.
The team has not won fewer than 60% of its games and have not missed the playoffs in the 20 seasons since Tim Duncan was drafted in 1997. They have five championships, six conference titles and 22 division titles.
Let's dive into the breathtaking heritage of this esteemed organisation and take a look at the top ballers who scored the most while playing for San Antonio.
#10 Kawhi Leonard - 6,654 points
After being drafted 15th overall in the 2015 NBA draft by the Indiana Pacers, he was traded to the Spurs on the same night, in exchange for George Hill.
The Pacers regret that decision till date. Kawhi went on to win an NBA championship with the Spurs in 2014 and was also the NBA Finals MVP, playing against LeBron and the Miami Heat in the finals.
He also won the league's defensive player of the year award in 2015 & 2016, averaging a career-high 2.3 steals per game in the 2014-15 season & led the league in steals in that very season.
'The Claw' clocked in an average of 25.5 points per game in the 2016-17 season and was selected in the All-NBA first team for the second consecutive year.
During 2015-2017, Kawhi was named in the All-NBA defensive first team for three years in a row and did never average less than 1.8 steals per game in any of those seasons. On the other hand, his effortless scoring is marvelled across the league, bagging him 6,654 points in his time with the Spurs, which ranks 10th on the franchise's all-time scoring list.
#9 Larry Kenon - 8,248 points
Larry Joe Kenon wore a Spurs jersey from 1975 to 1980, and his stint at San Antonio turned out to be his career highlight. He averaged a career-high 22.1 points in the 1978-79 season.
After the ABA-NBA merger, Kenon and Gervin averaged atleast 20 points per game for 4 straight seasons. Kenon also averaged at least 10.7 rebounds per game in each of those four seasons, his high being 12.0 in 1976–77.
Also, he recorded 29 points, 15 rebounds & 11 steals for a rare points-rebounds-steals triple-double, playing against Kansas City Kings in 1976, setting an NBA record for most steals in a game. Larry Kenon has a total of 8,248 points for the Spurs and ranks 9th in terms of scoring for the franchise.
The University of Memphis retired Kenon's number 35.
Kenon converted to the Muslim faith after retiring from basketball; he now goes by the name of Muhsin Kenon.
#8 Sean Elliot - 9,659 points
Elliott was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the 1989 NBA draft under Coach Larry Brown, and played alongside the team superstar David Robinson.
Sean contributed to the Spurs' scoring from 1989 to 1993 before being traded to the Pistons for one season. After spending the 1993-94 season in Detroit, Elliott returned to San Antonio and averaged 18.1 and 20.0 points per game (career high) in the upcoming seasons.
Led by Duncan and Robinson, Spurs won the NBA Championship in 1999 beating the Knicks 4-1 in the Finals. Elliott averaged around 12 points in the postseason of 1999, but shortly after the championship run, Elliott announced that he had a kidney disease.
He announced his retirement in 2001 & on March 6, 2005, his #32 was retired by the San Antonio Spurs and was hung in the rafters. Elliott is the fifth all-time franchise leader in three-point field goals made (563) and fourth for three-point attempts (1,485).
#7 Mike Mitchell - 9,799 points
Mitchell was drafted with the 15th pick in the First round, of the 1978 NBA Draft, by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He started his NBA career with the Cavaliers but played most of his career for the San Antonio Spurs
Mike averaged a career-high 24.5 points per game in the 1980-81 season, and was named an All-star for the first and last instance in his career. Among other career highlights, he led the Spurs in scoring for the 1984–1985 season, averaging 22.2 points per game.
Mitchell averaged 19.8 points per game(20.1 ppg for the Spurs) over the course of his NBA career. He ended his career with an impressive .493 field goal percentage, and a .779 free throw percentage. He was a 6'7'' and 234 lb small forward who had the ability to score at will and create winning opportunities for his team.
His 9,799 total points scored for the San Antonio Spurs, is seventh highest in franchise history.
#6 James Silas - 10,290 points
For a player who was drafted in the fifth round of the 1972 draft by the Houston Rockets and waived before the 1972-73 season even began, Silas proved his worth eventually.
After Silas signed with the Chaparrals(Now Spurs) in 1972, he was named to the ABA All-Rookie team at the end of the season. He went on to be named an ABA All-Star for two consecutive seasons(1975 & 1976), averaging a career-high 23.8 points per game along with 5.4 assists & 4.0 rebounds per game in the 1975-76 season.
James Silas was an excellent free-throw shooter and finished sixth on the franchise all-time FT% list, with a free-throw conversion of 85.5%. He was nicknamed "Captain Late" & "The Late Mr. Silas" because of his ability to perform best late in the games.
On February 28, 1984, Silas's #13 became the first number ever retired by the San Antonio Spurs.
#5 Manu Ginobili - 14,043 points
The Argentine joined the Spurs in the 2002–03 NBA season and soon became an integral part of the 'Big Three' until Duncan retired in 2016. Manu is one of the five players in the history of the Spurs franchise to score more than 14,000 points for the organization.
He has recorded 1,392 steals playing for the Spurs and leads the franchise's all-time total steals list, with an average of 1.3 steals per game. The former EuroLeague Finals MVP has won 4 NBA Championships with the Spurs franchise, fetched in 218 post-season appearances.
In 2007–08, he was named the NBA sixth man of the year, averaging 19.5 points per game. He was named an All-Star in 2005 & 2011 averaging 16.0 and 17.4 points per game respectively.
Manu Ginobili is one of the only two players to have won a EuroLeague title, an Olympics Gold Medal and an NBA Championship. His undying loyalty to the Spurs organization is praiseworthy as he continues to shine on the basketball court with unmatched intensity even after being 41 years old.
#4 Tony Parker - 18,943 points
Tony Parker was born in Bruges, Belgium, and raised in France. As Parker built his skill, he played the point guard position, recognizing that his speed and agility made this position ideal for him.
Playing as a rookie for San Antonio in 2001, he led the team in assists and steals and was named to the All-Rookie first team for 2001-02.
Known for his pace and high field goal percentage, Parker has been named to six NBA All-Star games and was also the NBA Finals MVP in 2007. Parker won 4 NBA Championships with the Spurs in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014 and was named in the All-NBA second team for 3 years in a row from 2012 to 2014.
Throughout his 17 seasons with the Spurs, he has stacked 18,943 points for the franchise, averaging 15.8 ppg and 5.7 apg. He has played in 226 playoff games, which is the 6th most all-time.
".. They can talk about Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Deron Williams and Chris Paul. I still have the most rings."
#3 David Robinson - 20,790 points
Robinson agreed to move to San Antonio for the 1989–90 season and the rest is history.
Defying all criticisms of Spurs' disappointing postseason campaigns, Robinson paired up with second-year power forward Tim Duncan to lead the Spurs to the franchise’s first NBA championship in 1999. The duo won another title in the 2002–03 season, after which Robinson retired.
To sum up his greatness in a nutshell, Robinson was a 10-time NBA All-Star, the 1995 NBA MVP, a two-time NBA Champion (1999 and 2003), a two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner (1992, 1996) and a two-time Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. (2009 for his individual career, 2010 as a member of the 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team).
He was also the NBA Rookie of the Year (averaging 24.3 points per game and 3.9 blocks per game in his rookie season) and the NBA's defensive player of the year in 1992(averaging an inhuman 4.5 blocks per game).
He ranks second on the franchise's all-time total blocks list, with 2,954 blocks to his name(averaging 3.0 career blocks per game). Being the offensive monster he is, Robinson ranks second on the franchise's all-time points scored(20,790 points) list and points per game(21.1 ppg) list.
San Antonio Spurs retired his jersey #50.
#2 George Gervin - 23,602 points
The Phoenix Suns selected Gervin in the 1974 draft, however Gervin elected to stay in the ABA and kept playing for the Spurs.
Gervin was a deadly long-range shooter, he was the consummate inside-outside scoring threat, which was one of the reasons why he was able to rack up such impressive numbers (averaging 25.1 points per game over the course of his career) even by the ABA’s run-and-gun standards.
Gervin was a constant member of the All-NBA first team from 1978 to 1982, averaging a career-high 33.1 points per game in the 1979-80 season.
Despite disappointing playoff eliminations and not making it to the finals, Gervin held true to his nickname & was named an NBA All-star every year starting from 1977 all the way up till 1985 along with being the NBA's scoring champion for the years 1978, 1979, 1980 & 1982. Gervin played with the Spurs until 1985.
Gervin was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996 and his famous #44 jersey was retired by the San Antonio Spurs franchise.
#1 Tim Duncan - 26,496 points
Tim Duncan played his 19-year career with the San Antonio Spurs. A jaw-dropping 15-time All-Star and 10-time All NBA First team member, Duncan was one of the 14 NBA players to have registered more than 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a single season (2001-02), and was widely considered to be the greatest power forward of all time.
In the 2004–05 season San Antonio defeated the defending champions, the Detroit Pistons, to win their third championship. That year Duncan became just the fourth player to win three finals MVP awards. He is also the only player to be selected to both the All-NBA and All-Defensive teams for 13 consecutive seasons.
Duncan leads the franchise in offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, total rebounds, points scored, free throw attempts, games played, minutes played, field goals, blocks and 2-point field goals.
And if that wasn't enough to prove his worth to the organization, it should also be told that he won the NBA's regular season MVP back-to-back in 2002 (25.5 points per game & 12.7 rebounds per game) & 2003 (23.3 points per game & 12.9 rebounds per game).
However, on July 11, 2016, he announced his retirement from the NBA after 19 seasons with San Antonio. On December 18, 2016, the Spurs retired Duncan's #21 jersey in a postgame ceremony.