San Antonio Spurs
In 1967, the basketball world was introduced to the Dallas Chaparrals of the American Basketball Association (ABA).
Achieving moderate success, by 1973, a change was on the horizon. Bought by San Antonio businessmen, the Chaparrals became the San Antonio Spurs.
Gervin’s Ice-Cold Dominance
George “the Iceman” Gervin, a name synonymous with early Spurs excellence, was inducted into the team during the 1973-74 season. His arrival marked the onset of the Spurs as a force to reckon with in the 1970s and 80s.
When the ABA started seeing financial hardships, the NBA agreed to take in the top ABA teams, including the Spurs, in 1976. Surprising many, the Spurs maintained their winning streak, claiming five division titles in their initial NBA years. But the elusive NBA championship remained out of reach.
From Gervin’s Departure to Robinson’s Rise
Post Gervin’s 1985 trade, the Spurs hit a rocky patch. It wasn’t until the inclusion of center David Robinson in 1989 that fortunes began to shift.
With Robinson, the Spurs improved dramatically, making consistent playoff appearances. Yet, the ultimate championship remained distant.
The Twin Towers Era
1997 was a watershed year for the Spurs. An injury-ridden season led to them winning the NBA draft lottery. This stroke of luck allowed them to draft Tim Duncan.
Partnering Duncan with a now-recovered Robinson, the duo, fondly termed the Twin Towers, steered the Spurs to the 1999 NBA championship. In Robinson’s swansong season of 2003, the team clinched another title.
Continued Success and the Popovich Factor
Post Robinson’s retirement, the Spurs’ might on the court didn’t wane. Under the astute guidance of coach Gregg Popovich, the team continued its domination.
Flanked by new talents Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, Duncan led the Spurs to championships in 2005 and 2007. While they tasted playoff disappointments, their 2014 showdown against the Miami Heat resulted in a fifth NBA championship win, marked by record-setting shooting performances.
Kawhi Leonard and New Beginnings
Post their fifth title win, Kawhi Leonard emerged as the new star. During the 2015-16 season, the Spurs achieved a franchise-record 67 wins. Yet, playoff success eluded them. 2016-17 saw them winning 61 games and making it to the Western Conference finals. But, an ankle injury to Leonard turned the tide against them, leading to a disappointing postseason.
Leonard’s struggles continued into the next season, making him traded. Despite the challenges, the Spurs clinched a playoff spot in 2019, although it ended in a first-round loss.
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