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The San Antonio Spurs have been one of the NBA’s most consistent franchises since they joined the NBA from the ABA in 1976. One reason for their success has been their ability to get players at the right time and then get rid of players at the right time. Since 1976 only the Lakers have been a more consistent franchise than the Spurs, who have missed the post season only four times.
The Spurs are one of only four NBA franchises to have more than three NBA titles; the other being Boston(17), Los Angeles(14) and Chicago(6).
Here are the top 20 San Antonio Spurs players of all-time. Not included are players who played fewer than 70 games with the team, or played the majority of their Spurs careers while the Spurs were still in the ABA.
1. Tim Duncan
The Big Fundamental was an obvious choice for the top player in franchise history. He is a two time MVP and has been the catalyst for all four of their NBA championships. He is also arguably the greatest power forward to ever play the game. He is solid on both sides of the ball, and while he is not a flashy player he gets things done.
2. David Robinson
Prior to drafting Robinson number one overall in 1987 the Spurs were a mediocre franchise who would make the playoffs but rarely seen any success. Robinson changed all that, he would lead to team to the best record in the West twice and to the 1994 Western Conference Finals . He was named the NBA’s Most Valuable player in 1995 and Defensive player of the year in 1992. He scored a career and franchise high 71 points against the Clippers in 1994 to capture the NBA’s scoring title as well. Robinson retired in 2003 after winning his second NBA championship, and having played every year of his career with the Spurs.
3. George Gervin
The Ice man was the teams first star, he was acquired while the team was still in the ABA from Virginia. Gervin would play 11 seasons with the Spurs, nine after they joined the NBA, and would become the teams all-time leading scorer. He was an 11 time all-star with the Spurs and captured the 1980 All-star MVP award. Gervin was elected to the NBA’s Hall-of-Fame in 1996.
4. Sean Elliott
Elliott is one of the most beloved Spurs players of all-time, not only for his on the court heroics such as the Memorial Day Miracle, but because of his off the court stuff as well. In 1993 Elliot was traded to the Pistons in a semi-unpopular move for Dennis Rodman. One year later Elliot re-signed with the Spurs, than in 1999, not to long after he made his shot in the Memorial Day Miracle, Elliott announced that he had a kidney dieses and would have to have a kidney transplant. Elliot would miss most of the next season but come back and play 19 games to become the first player to play in the NBA after a kidney transplant. Elliott was also a two time all-star with the Spurs and was David Robinsons sidekick for many years and many deep playoff runs.
5. Larry Kenon
Part of the team when it merged with the NBA, Kenon was one of a few ABA all-stars to become NBA all-stars. He was a three time All-star while with the Spurs, two of those while in the NBA. He averaged over 20 points a game in all four of his NBA years with the Spurs. He was a solid defender, and at six-foot-nine an excellent ball thief, he averaged 2 steals a game during two seasons with the Spurs which is an oddity for a player as big as he is.
6. Tony Parker
Parker was a steal for the Spurs, who found him at the bottom of the first round in 2001. He is a two time All-star and won the 2007 NBA finals MVP. Parker is a pass first point guard who is on pace to become the teams all-time leader in assists.
7 .Avery Johnson
The floor general for the Spurs during their first title run. Johnson, it could be argued, is the best point guard in Spurs history. He is their all-time leader in assists. But Johnson’s size sometimes hurt the Spurs as bigger players would try to post him up. But Johnson never let that bother him, in fact in a 1992 interview he said it is what gave him the strength and motivation to keep going.
8 . Alvin Robertson
A three time all-star with the Spurs, Robertson was a key figure in some of the early 80s teams. Robertson has the reputation as a defensive specialist, and while he was that, he was able to showcase some of his offensive skills while a member of the Spurs including a career high of 19.5 points per game in 1988. Robertson is also one of only four players in the history of the NBA to achieve a quadruple double, and one of only two Spurs to ever do it. The others who have achieved a quadruple double are David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Nate Thurmond.
9. Manu Ginobili
Another one of the current Spurs players. Manu was the steal of all steals in the NBA draft when he was picked second to last in 1999. In his career with the Spurs, he has been a one time all-star and was the 2008 Sixth man of the year; a role which he accepted in order to help balance the Spurs rotation.
10. Artis Gilmore
Gilmore ended his career with the Spurs, he gave them five very good years and in those five years he become 5th all time in blocks and sixth in rebounds for the Spurs.
11. James Silas
One of the Spurs players who was on the team when it joined the NBA from the ABA, Silas was an important part of the team. However, his NBA days were marred by injuries and his play suffered because of it. Still, Silas was able to become the teams 4th all-time scorer and is in the top 10 in both steals and assists.
12. Mike Mitchell
A guy who many basketball fans have forgotten. During the pre-David Robinson era Mitchell was the star of the team, leading them in scoring from 84 until 86. One reason why he may be forgotten is that he was the guy in the time before Robinson and after Griffin. Despite averaging 23 points and six board Mitchell was never named to an all-star team as a member of the Spurs.
13. Willie Anderson
Somewhat of a forgotten player, Anderson was a side kick to the early David Robinson Spurs teams of the 1990s. Anderson was a solid all around combo guard-forward who could give the Spurs a little of everything. An injury in the 92-93 season really hindered his career and he would out of the NBA four years later.
14. Johnny Moore
In the mid 80s, Moore was a key role player for the Spurs. He was able to become, for a time, the teams all-time leader in assists and steals; those records have since been broken.
15. Bruce Bowen
Bowen is a lockdown defender who has helped the Spurs to three champions by guarding the opposing teams best small player. Bowen is not much of an offensive threat, the most he has ever averaged for a season is 8 points, but what he does bring to the Spurs is an unmatched defensive tenacity. Bowen has also been one of the most durable players for the Spurs. Since joining the Spurs in 01-02 he has missed a total of 24 games and had played nearly 500 straight games before being suspended for a game in the 07-08 season.
16. Mike Gale
A solid point guard who gave the Spurs a decent five year run. He was much like Avery Johnson in his play, but not the kind of floor leader Johnson was. However, Gale was very good at getting into the passing lanes and for a time was the teams all-time steals leader.
17. Dennis Rodman
The worm would be higher had he played longer; Rodman only played two, very short, seasons for the Spurs before getting traded to Chicago for Will Purdue. But in his tenure with the Spurs he did manage to lead the NBA in rebounding both years with around 17 a game both years.
18. Rod Strickland
Like Rodman,, Strickland’s rank with the Spurs would be a lot higher had he played with them longer. He played two injury filled season but did manage to average 14 and 8 both seasons
A role player for the Spurs from 76 until 82, Olberding provided the Spurs with some defense and a little offense. He was never a star but his career numbers with the Spurs are decent. He is their 9th all-time rebounded.
A role player and fan favorite who was a member of the Spurs when they joined the NBA. He wasn’t much of a player stat wise, but he did bring energy and enthusiasm to the game at a time when those things weren’t seen as important.
Others who could have made it.
Antoine Carr, Will Purdue, Steve Kerr, Dale Ellis, Chuck Person, Billy Paultz, Johnny Dawkins, Malik Rose.
*Please not that this article was written in 2005.