For the last 16 years, the San Antonio Spurs have been easily linked to the names of Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Bruce Bowen, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
Robinson and Bowen have retired since, but not after contributing championships for the Spurs franchise. The 7’1″ Robinson was part of the 1999 and the 2003 San Antonio championships, while Bowen played a key role in the 2003, 2005 and 2007 title runs.
But aside from these five big names in franchise history, San Antonio has a long list of big-time players who played for Spurs since they joined the NBA from the ABA in 1976.
And among the many players who wore San Antonio’s jersey for the last 37 years, three players from the yester-years contributed immensely to the Spurs’ growing legend in the NBA.
Below are my top three all-time Spurs:
He was the league’s NBA scoring king from 1978 to 1980, before winning his last scoring title in 1982. He averaged a career-best 33.1 points in 1980 while hitting a 32.2 scoring clip in 1982. He was best known for his patented finger-roll, where he releases the ball from his finger-tip.
Though the Spurs were a mere playoff team, Gervin’s scoring easily makes San Antonio a fun team to watch because of its fast-paced style of play during the 1970s through the 1980s – quite a contrast to the team’s current style with Duncan and Co.
* Avery Johnson – the team’s top court general, who was best remembered for hitting a crucial corner jump shot in the NBA Finals that eventually sealed the Spurs’ first-ever franchise league title in 1999.
The southpaw point guard was small (5’11”), but he definitely plays with a big heart each game. Though undrafted in 1988, Johnson played with grit and determination to make it to the NBA, first with the Seattle Supersonics that year before ending his professional basketball career with the Golden State Warriors in 2004.
A certified NBA journeyman who played for six NBA teams, Johnson had his longest playing stint with the Spurs from 1994 to 2001. He finished his NBA career with averages of 8.4 points, 1.7 rebounds and 5.5- assists.
* Sean Elliott – Long before Tim Duncan arrived in the Spurs franchise, Elliott was David Robinson’s chief frontline partner.
Except for the 1994 season where he was traded to the Detroit Pistons for the flamboyant Dennis Rodman, Elliott spent majority of his NBA career playing for the Spurs.
He was part of the 1999 Spurs squad that won the NBA title via a 4-1 Finals series win against the New York Knicks. He missed majority of games the following season after undergoing kidney transplant, but managed to stage a successful comeback.
Elliott eventually retired at the end of the 2001 season with career averages of 14.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
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