Celebrating 14 San Antonio Spurs 50-Win Seasons and Counting
The San Antonio Spurs have become one of the most impressive franchises in recent sports history, but among the plethora of eye-popping statistics, one sticks out the most.
Ever since the 1999-00 season, the team has reached the 50-win plateau, marking 14 straight seasons in which the feat has been done.
Throughout that time, many players have come and gone, but the overall success of the team has not fluctuated.
Whether it be the days of the Twin Towers or the modern Big Three era, the Spurs have proved themselves. After another season of similar dominance, it's time to take a trip down memory lane and look back on the highlights of this incredible streak.
Fresh off a championship, the 1999-00 San Antonio Spurs carried over their dominance from the previous season, winning 53 of their 82 games.
Once the postseason came along, well, the season became forgettable. Or at least as forgettable as a 50-win season can be.
Tim Duncan and David Robinson continued to make history, with Duncan having solidified himself as the leader of the team.
Averaging 23.2 points and 12.4 rebounds, the young star earned himself a spot on the All-NBA First Team and the All-Defensive First Team.
Their draft selection proved to be a good one—Manu Ginobili, though they had to wait a few years to see him in action.
Overall, a fantastic regular season was spoiled by a first-round playoff loss to the Phoenix Suns. However, it was still 50 wins and the onset of something special.
After losing to the Suns in four games just a year earlier, the Spurs hardly showed any signs of defeat throughout the 2000-01 season.
Led by Tim Duncan's All-Star effort, the team paced its way to a substantial 58 wins and a decent playoff run.
Having brought Derek Anderson onto the team for his lone season with the Black and Silver, the Spurs were well-rounded and showed a vast improvement from the postseason run of the year before.
Still, Duncan continued to showcase superstar talent, and the team let the league know that it would be relevant for years to come.
The 2001-02 season was a pivotal one for the Spurs franchise, beginning with its first round draft choice.
As a fairly unknown international youngster, few made a big deal when Tony Parker was added to the roster—though he soon made noise.
The rookie was no star from the start, but his season averages of 9.2 points and 4.3 assists in just under 30 minutes of action solidified his role as the team's new starting point guard.
Aside from Parker, Tim Duncan experienced one of his top seasons to date, averaging a career-high 25.5 points along with 12.7 rebounds, en route to his first MVP award.
Bruce Bowen was also added to the roster, beginning a fantastic career with the Spurs, in which the lockdown defender became a consistent All-Defensive Team selection, as well as one of the best players in Spurs history.
Their playoff run was cut short, but the excellence of Duncan and the addition of Parker and Bowen is enough to make the season one worth celebrating.
From start to finish, the squad exerted dominance in what will go down as one of, if not the best, season in the franchise's history.
After adding Manu Ginobili to the mix, the season acted as a transition year between the Twin Towers and the Big Three eras, in which Parker showed flashes of stardom.
Averaging 15.5 points per contest, few could have predicted his future, though he made it clear that he should not be overlooked.
Duncan's 23.3 points and 12.9 rebounds earned him his second consecutive MVP award, and Gregg Popovich was named the Coach of the Year.
Unlike in year's past, the team maintained its regular season momentum, bringing it into the playoffs and capping off a wondrous run with the franchise's second championship, knocking off the New Jersey Nets in six games.
Though the excitement level reached a peak in San Antonio, the title came with sad news. After a Hall of Fame-worthy career, David Robinson had decided to retire, leaving the team in Duncan's hands officially for the first time in his career.
Compared to the championship victory of yesteryear, the 2003-04 season was fairly humdrum.
With Robinson having departed, the Spurs were left in the hands of Tim Duncan, who continued on the path to greatness as the team's sole leader, with another 20-10 season worthy of another selection to the All-NBA squad.
Manu Ginobili became a more integral member, sharing the starting duties with Hedo Turkoglu, who the Spurs had traded for in the offseason.
In addition to Turkoglu, the Spurs added Rasho Nesterovic to replace Robinson, but his departure certainly left a hole in the roster.
Nonetheless, with each Duncan, Parker and Ginobili averaging double-digits, the season—which ended with a second-round playoff loss—marked a turning point in Spurs history.
The Big Three era had officially begun.
While the 2003-04 season marked the official onset of the Big Three era, it wasn't until the proceeding year that they proved their dominance.
For the first time, Ginobili was named the official starting shooting guard, with Parker maintaining the point guard duties. Nazr Mohammed joined Duncan in the post, and Bruce Bowen returned as the defensive-minded swingman.
Together, the team was able to piece together a strong regular season, giving them the second seed in the Western Conference.
With the Big Three each performing at a high-caliber, the Spurs breezed through the first round, and after knocking off the Seattle Supersonics and the Phoenix Suns, the Detroit Pistons were the only thing standing in the Spurs' way of a third ring.
Led by Duncan and Ginobili—with help from Parker and Robert Horry—the team bested its Eastern Conference opponent in seven games, earning the franchise another title.
The Big Three's combined 61.6 points per game in the playoffs alerted the league and proved that the San Antonio Spurs would be good for a long time.
Following their dominance in the 2005 Playoffs, the Big Three and the Spurs entered the 2005-06 season hungry for victory.
Duncan maintained his supremacy, while Parker's numbers catapulted, averaging over 18 points, proving his value as a star.
Ginobili pitched in at the shooting guard position, and new addition Michael Finley—who would remain with the Spurs for seasons to come—fit in nicely as a solid role player.
The 63-win regular season will go down as one of the best regular seasons in their history, but the No. 1 seed was wasted in the playoffs.
An overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 of the Conference Semifinals sealed their fate for the season, as they were forced to head home early.
Despite the playoff exit, few will forget the authority with which the Spurs ruled the league during the regular season, and the abundance of talent that San Antonio witnessed.
Like 2003, the 2007 season was one that will be remembered as a Spurs-dominated year.
Fabricio Oberto became the newest name in San Antonio, joining the long list of centers to join Duncan in the starting lineup during the post-Robinson era.
The regular season wasn't nearly as dominant as in previous years, but a star effort from Parker, Ginobili and Duncan allowed for the team to enter the playoffs with the third seed.
From there, the Spurs simply took over.
For his talents, Parker was named Finals MVP—marking the first time a Spur other than Duncan was given the accolade—solidifying his position as a star.
If the 2006-07 year was Parker's year, then the 2007-08 campaign will go down as Manu's year.
The entire Big Three averaged over 18 points per game, but Ginobili, who was officially the team's new sixth man, led the pack with 19.5.
His efforts resulted in a selection to the All-NBA Third Team, as well as recognition as the Sixth Man of the Year.
Tied with the New Orleans Hornets for the best record in the conference, the Spurs entered the playoffs as the third seed, but slipped their way past the Hornets and into the Western Conference Finals.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers past the Spurs, but the 2007-08 campaign will go down as an integral season, with the entire triumvirate playing at an equally dominant level.
Tony Parker took command of the offense in 2008, averaging a career-best 22 points per game en route to an appearance on the All-NBA Third Team.
Duncan also performed at a high level and was selected to the All-NBA Second Team.
The draft proved to be a successful one, with rookie George Hill proving to be one of the team's most talented role players.
Fan-favorite Matt Bonner accompanied Duncan in the post, and Ginobili came in off the bench as the Spurs glided their way to 58 regular season wins.
Their playoff run lasted just five games after the Dallas Mavericks sent them packing.
The team's incredible depth was beginning to become evident, but Parker and Duncan's success proved that its talent up front was league-leading as well.
The roster shifted slightly in 2009, after a trade for Richard Jefferson sent Bruce Bowen to Milwaukee, ending an illustrious career with the Spurs.
In addition to Jefferson, Antonio McDyess joined the roster in another attempt to find Duncan a legitimate big man to play with.
Rookie DeJuan Blair also shined despite being a late pick, and George Hill broke out, averaging over 12 points per game.
Barely garnering 50 wins, the team earned just the seventh seed in the playoffs, but upset the second ranked Dallas Mavericks in the first round, only to lose in four straight to the Suns subsequently.
Despite the postseason loss, few will forget 2009-10, and the beginning of a minor rebuilding effort—as well as the season in which Duncan's minutes were beginning to decrease.
2009 was the year in which Tim Duncan's numbers were beginning to decrease, but it wasn't until 2010 that the Spurs' great witnessed an enormous drop in production.
His previous seasonal average of 17.9 points per game dropped to 13.4, and his rebounding totals saw a vast decline as well.
Despite the Big Fundamental's uncharacteristic showing, the Spurs managed to grasp the first overall seed, winning 61 regular-season games.
Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker provided the team with star power and an incredible season from the bench—namely Hill, Blair, Jefferson and the newly added Gary Neal—allowed for its dominance to continue.
However, the regular season success didn't translate into the playoffs, and a banged-up Spurs team fell in the first round to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The lockout-shortened season of 2011-12 proved to be another successful one for the San Antonio Spurs, and one that will go down as one of the most pivotal in their history.
Rookie Kawhi Leonard was traded to the Spurs on draft day for George Hill. Though questioned at first, Leonard quickly became one of the team's top players after grabbing the starting job midway through the season.
The season also marked a new era in San Antonio, in which the torch was passed from Duncan to Parker, whose MVP-caliber performance earned him recognition as one of the top players in the NBA.
Stephen Jackson was re-introduced to Spurs fans after a hiatus, and the well-balanced team—led by Coach of the Year, Gregg Popovich—managed 50 wins, despite the shortened season, en route to the first overall seed.
After sweeping the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers in the first two rounds, the Spurs were the favorites to win it all, but the young Oklahoma City Thunder quickly turned the tides and ended the Spurs' run.
Still, the emergence of Parker as a superstar and the introduction of Kawhi Leonard ensured that while a title fell out of reach, the 2011-12 season was an important one.
Record: 56-20 (In progress)
For some members of the Spurs roster, the 2012-13 season picked up right where the previous season did.
Tony Parker has put together another MVP-caliber performance, but unlike last year, the 30-year-old guard is not alone.
Despite his blatant drop in production leading up to the season, Tim Duncan has been rejuvenated, averaging 17.5 points and 10.0 rebounds.
The team's younger players have improved as well. Kawhi Leonard is shaping into a star, and Tiago Splitter is proving that he may be the best big man to play alongside Duncan since Robinson's departure.
76 games into the season, the Spurs have already exceeded the 50-win mark, and as the season progresses, the potential for a fifth championship remains very much alive.