The Top 10 San Antonio Spurs Players of All-Time
You cannot talk consistency in the NBA without the San Antonio Spurs on top of mind.
The Southwest Division franchise has missed the NBA playoffs only four times in its history. They have made the postseason in 24 of the last 25 seasons and their current run of 19 consecutive playoff appearances began when they drafted Tim Duncan out of Wake Forest.
Their playoff appearances began with excellent regular season runs. San Antonio has won at least 50 games in a season for a record 18 consecutive seasons. Their 20 straight years with a winning percentage above 60% is also an NBA record. They also have the highest winning percentage among active NBA franchises and own a winning head to head regular season record against every NBA team.
The Spurs have won a total of 22 division titles and 5 NBA championships. They’ve won at least one title in each of the last three decades. This continued excellence can be attributed to a number of factors including team management, coaching and great players.
Our task at hand is to list down the Top 10 San Antonio Spurs Players of All-Time.
10. Johnny Moore
Put Tony Parker in the Iceman era and you have Johnny Moore, only that he wasn’t a scorer like Parker.
John Brian ‘ Johnny ‘ Moore spent all but one game of his NBA career with the San Antonio Spurs. This 6-1 point guard had the luxury of playing alongside one of the greatest scorers in NBA history in George Gervin, hence piling up assists were easy as 1-2-3. When Moore retired, he was the Spurs’ all-time leader in assists ( he is now 3rd on that list ).
He is only one of three players in history to record at least 20 assists in the playoffs and one of fifty players to have at least 9 steals in one game ( he did it twice ). Moore was the NBA’s league leader in assists back in 1982. His ‘00’ jersey number is one of eight players retired by the San Antonio Spurs.
9. James Silas
His late game heroics earned him the morbid nickname ‘ The Late Mr. Silas’.
After being ‘sold’ to the Spurs following the 1973 season, James Silas saw his star on the rise. He made the ABA All-Star team in 1975 and 1976 and was All-ABA team in 1976 when he averaged a career best 23.8 points and 5.4 assists per game. He was a crossover Spurs’ player, having played 5 season with San Antonio in the ABA and three in the NBA when the Spurs joined the league. Silas was also a member of the All-Time ABA Team.
He currently ranks at #6 in the San Antonio all-time scoring list, fifth in free throw percentage and 8th on the assists leaderboard. His jersey #13 is the first of eight numbers that have been retired by the Spurs and are hanging above the AT&T Center.
8. Avery Johnson
During the San Antonio Spurs first championship run, they were led by Tim Duncan and the Admiral David Robinson. But the Twin Towers wouldn’t have had as much access without their Little General.
Avery Johnson was the motor that ran the Spurs offense. He was the fiery but savvy court general who made the right plays at the right time. He is best remembered for his Game 5 go ahead basket which gave the Spurs a one-point win against the Knicks during the lockout shortened 1999 season. The diminutive 5-10 point guard was undrafted 1998 but spent 16 seasons in the league, winning the world title in 1999.
The Little General ranks second to Tony Parker in the Spurs’ all-time assists leaderboard. He is 9th in steals and 9th in win shares contributed. Johnson’s #6 jersey was retired by the Spurs in 2007. He was also named to the San Antonio Spurs’ hall of fame two years later.
7. Sean Elliot
Like Avery Johnson, this Spurs’ all-time great played a key role in the 1999 NBA title team. Like the Little General, he hit a big shot in the playoffs that will never be forgotten.
Elliot’s fall away three pointer while trying not to go out of bounds during Game 2 of the 1999 Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers gave the Spurs the lead and the eventual victory. San Antonio would go on to the Finals against the Knicks. Because of it’s significance, the play was later dubbed as the “Memorial Day Miracle’.
Sean Elliot was a standout at the University of Arizona and was drafted by the Spurs as the third pick overall. His career was briefly halted when he had a kidney problem but he came back to become the first NBA player to make a return following a kidney transplant.
Aside from winning the NBA title, Elliot was a member of the All-Rookie Teams named to two NBA All-Star teams and the All-Rookie Team during his rookie season.
6. Bruce Bowen
The self-proclaimed ‘Kobe Stopper, Bruce Bowen is one of the best perimeter defenders in NBA history known for his lockdown defense.
After going undrafted in 1993, Bowen would start his professional career in Europe and the CBA until he eventually found a way to the Boston Celtics in 1997. Two more teams and then he finally ended up in San Antonio where he would play the best eight years of basketball in his career. Bowen was one of the feared individual defenders in the league during his days. He was named to five NBA All-Defensive first teams and three NBA All-Defensive 2nd team on three occasions. Bowen was runner-up in the Defensive Player of the Year voting from 2005-2007, losing out to Ben Wallace ( twice ) and Marcus Camby.
Bowen wasn’t a good offensive player but surprisingly had a good three point shot. He is 3rd in the team’s all-time three point field goals list and fifth in defensive win shares. Most of his handiwork don’t come out in the stats sheet but he is without doubt one of the best defenders of his generation.
5. Manu Ginobili
Born in Argentina but bleeds San Antonio’s black and silver.
Manu Ginobili has been a riddle to defenses ever since he arrived in the NBA. Gifted with a good outside touch, excellent court vision and exemplary playmaking skills, this Spurs’ sixth man has been the steady force off the San Antonio bench in the past two decades.
Now 39, Ginobili still plays for the Spurs and continues to make one big play after another. It’s a wonder to see how his body still looks preserved after all the wear and tear not just in the NBA but in the international scene as well. Credit coach Gregg Popovich who has incredibly managed the minutes of his players through the years. Ginobili was part of four champion teams and was equally an integral part in each.
Ginobili is only one of two players ( the other is the New York Knicks’ Bill Bradley ) to win the Euro League title, NBA title and Olympic Gold medal. Only an NBA All-Star twice in his career but was the league’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2008. He is in the Top 10 in Spurs’ All-Time points, assists, rebounds, steals, free throws, three point field goals, win shares, box plus/minus among others.
4. Tony Parker
He drives up and down the court like a blur. You can only hope to stop fastbreak drives to the basket but you cannot really stop him from making a lay-up or dishing off an assist.
Tony Parker has mesmerized opposing point guards since arriving in the NBA from France in 2001 where he was the final pick of the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft. He has helped the Spurs win four NBA championships and was once married to popular actress Eva Longoria of the ‘Desperate Housewives’ fame. Once an erratic shooter, Coach Popovich made him work with famed shooting coach Chip Engelland and Parker now owns one of the highest field goal percentages among NBA point guards.
Parker is a six-time NBA All-Star, three-time All-NBA second team selection and All-NBA third team once. He was the 2007 NBA Finals MVP and was a two-time Euro League MVP in 2013 and 2014. He is the Euroleague’s all-time leading scorer and the Spurs’ all-time assists leader.
3. George Gervin
Universally recognized as one of the greatest shooting guards in the history of the NBA, George Gervin electrified fans with his silky smooth shooting.
Dubbed as the ‘Iceman’ because of his cool demeanor and because he made any kind of shot as easy as taking free throws. Whether it was in mid-air changing his shot to avoid a block or trying to break loose from triple-team, Gervin was unstoppable. You only hope he broke his arm because it seemed he never got tired of attempting and making baskets. Gervin led the NBA in scoring four times. Only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain had more scoring titles. It’s widely believed that the ‘finger roll’ began with the Iceman.
Gervin was a 9-time All-Star and the All-Star Game MVP in 1980. He was a five-time All-NBA First team selection and a three-time All-NBA second team member. The Iceman was a member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time team and a certified Naismith Hall of Famer. Gervin ranks 2nd in the Spurs’ All-time scoring list, behind Tim Duncan and ahead of David Robinson.
2. David Robinson
Photo: Getty Images
David Robinson was called the Admiral because he spent his college days with the US Naval Academy. But he also earned it also because he was the captain of the Spurs’ first two title teams.
David Robinson paved the way for Tim Duncan. When Duncan arrived in San Antonio, they formed a Twin Towers combination that dominated the NBA and began San Antonio’s current run of excellence. Robinson later became a mentor of sorts to Duncan, sharing his knowledge of the game to the Big Fundamental. Robinson wasn’t flashy as Shaquille O’Neal but he was just as good and effective.
He is the only player in US basketball history to be included in three Olympic teams, winning gold twice. Robinson is also the only player from the US Navy to make it to the NBA. But those aren’t his biggest achievements. The Admiral was a two time NBA champion, the 1995 MVP amd 1992 Defensive Player of the Year. He was named to the All-Star team 10 times, the All-NBA First team 4 times and the All-NBA defensive first team 4 times.
1. Tim Duncan
Photo: USA Today
With all respect to Karl Malone, this man is the best power forward to ever play the game. And we don’t say so just because of individual accolades but also because of championships won and the longevity of the level of excellence he displayed.
There isn’t really something very flashy or exciting about his game but he is well-skilled with the basics of basketball and is incredibly effective in almost everything he does. That’s why he was called the Big Fundamental. Duncan was the Spurs #1 pick in 1997 and he changed the history of the franchise. They’ve never missed the playoffs during his career. The winning tradition began with his arrival and continues even after his retirement.
Duncan is the Spurs’ all-time leader in points, rebounds and blocks. He was a three-time Finals MVP and two-time regular season MVP. Duncan made 15 All-Star teams and was MVP of the All-Star game in 2000. He was 10-time All-NBA First Team and 8-time NBA All-Defensive First Team. He is the only player to make the All-NBA and All-Defensive team during his first 13 NBA seasons. Despite this Hall of Fame resume, he was always unassuming. That humility perhaps made him even a greater person than a player.