What's Happened Since Golden State Warriors Last Won in San Antonio?
When the Golden State Warriors play the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Monday night, they'll do so under the weight of a road losing streak that has spanned an incredible 29 games.
And as you might imagine, a few things have changed in the world since the Dubs last notched a win in San Antonio on Feb. 14, 1997.
Foreign regimes have toppled, presidents have been elected on dubious terms and something called "the Internet" has become a slightly larger deal than it used to be. But that stuff's a little dry, so in an effort to put a more engaging spin on all the changes in the world since Golden State last beat the Spurs in the Lone Star State, let's run down some of the more entertaining developments of the past 16 years.
Pro sports, entertainment and pop culture are all represented, and as we'll see, each of them has had some pretty significant moments—not to mention undergone radical changes.
The Spurs Have Turned into a Model Franchise
When the Warriors last beat the Spurs in San Antonio, Gregg Popovich was manning the bench, but the rest of the organization didn't look like much.
The starting lineup included such luminaries as Greg Anderson and Carl Herrera. The ghost of Dominique Wilkins led San Antonio with 22 points off the bench, and oddly, three future coaches—Avery Johnson, Monty Williams and Vinny Del Negro—combined to score 21 points.
The Spurs were in the process of bottoming out back then, angling for a No. 1 draft pick with David Robinson sidelined due to injury.
That turned out to be a pretty good strategy.
Golden State won that Feb. 14 game by a final score of 108-94, but the Spurs would draft Tim Duncan in June, sparking a stunning turnaround. The rest, quite literally, is history.
San Antonio would win four championships over the next decade while developing into the NBA's most consistently dominant franchise. And Popovich would be named NBA Coach of the Year in 2002-03, but would be deserving of the honor in virtually every season.
That Duncan guy wound up being worth suffering through a dismal season, as he stabilized an entire franchise in a way no player has since.
The Warriors Went in the Opposite Direction
Since that 1997 season, the Warriors have made the playoffs just twice—once during the Baron Davis-led "We Believe" campaign of 2007, and now in 2013.
Outside of those isolated incidences of success, the Warriors have been an utter embarrassment. Former owner Chris Cohan, who bought the team in 2005, presided over one of the most protracted periods of futility in NBA history.
Golden State lost 52 games in the 1996-97 season, and it would post losing records in 13 of its next 16 campaigns. In fact, the organization actually bottomed out in the seasons immediately following its defeat of the Spurs. From 1997-98 to 2001-02, the Warriors averaged just 19.6 wins per season.
Lottery picks like Joe Smith busted, and Latrell Sprewell (Golden State's last All-Star before David Lee earned a nod this year) provided the biggest headlines by choking coach P.J. Carlesimo on Dec. 1, 1997.
Those memories are fading these days, thanks to the stable ownership of Joe Lacob and a front office that clearly has a long-term plan. But for anyone who suffered through those 16 seasons of hopelessness, the pain is still close to the surface.
As a matter of fact, that's why it's actually still illegal in Oakland to say Cohan's name out loud. He's sort of like Voldemort that way.
Kobe Bryant Has Scored 31,330 Points
Kobe Bryant was an 18-year-old rookie with the Los Angeles Lakers when the Warriors last beat the Spurs in San Antonio. He wasn't yet a starter and had scored just 287 points in the three months of the 1996-97 season before that fateful Warriors win.
He scored a few more in the 16 seasons after it.
Now residing in the No. 4 slot on the all-time scoring list, Bryant's 31,617 points trail only Michael Jordan, Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Chicks Dug the Long Ball
In 1998, Major League Baseball was still trying to regain its footing after disappointing fans with its strike a few years earlier. Thanks to Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and a whole bunch of home runs, baseball rocketed back into the national consciousness.
McGwire would finish the season with a then-record 70 home runs, trailed closely by Sosa and his 66 bombs.
All was right in the world as fans around the country tuned in and forgave the sport that had let them down in 1994.
Of course, with the ensuing (and ongoing) performance-enhancing drug scandal, MLB would find itself back on shaky ground pretty quickly. But for that iconic summer of 1998, the dingers were flying and baseball was back.
Peyton Manning Got Pretty Good
Peyton Manning's 1998 rookie year began when the Warriors had a mere two-game losing streak in San Antonio.
During the time it took Golden State to amass its next 27 road losses to the Spurs, Manning threw for 59,487 yards and 436 touchdowns. He also made a dozen Pro Bowl appearances, won four NFL MVP awards and established himself as the single greatest commercial actor in the history of professional football.
His stats have held up nicely over the course of time, but his commercial game has slipped, as any viewer of his God-awful Papa John's spots can attest.
The Pop Bubble Blew Up, Then Burst
1997 was a crazy time in music, and probably not one most folks are proud to have been a part of. Just two weeks after the Warriors won their last game against the Spurs in San Antonio, the Spice Girls officially inflated the pop bubble with "Wannabe."
Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys and N'Sync would soon follow, turning the music landscape of the late '90s and early '00s into a neon-lit, adolescent circus of digitized harmonies and TRL appearances.
The rise of file-sharing and Internet piracy effectively killed off the music industry as a whole, taking out the tail end of the pop revolution along with it.
And nobody ever heard from that Justin Timberlake guy again. It's a shame, really.
Titanic Gave Way to Avatar
Titanic was the highest-grossing film of 1997, even though everyone already knew how it was going to end. For the record, I still haven't seen it, and I consider that feat not only a great source of personal pride, but also a great ice-breaker at parties.
Anyway, Avatar snuck past Titanic's $2 billion mark in 2009, ending up with a comfortable $700 million advantage overall.
In general, the movie industry started cranking out sequels at a high rate right around the Warriors' last road win in San Antonio. Since then, we've had three installments of Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Batman and Toy Story.
Oh, and there have been eight(!) Harry Potter flicks, proving indubitably that we, as a society, have gotten dumber during the Spurs' dominant streak.
Those Newfangled Gadgets Started Popping Up Everywhere
Chances are, you're reading this very article on your phone or tablet, thanks to the magic of Bleacher Report's terrific Team Stream app (download it today!).
Back when the Warriors used to beat the Spurs in San Antonio, you would have had to call up your friend on a land line to discuss the finer points of Joe Smith's turnaround jumper or B.J. Armstrong's solid leadership skills.
But now, the two of you can have the game streaming in HD on your phones while simultaneously discussing it 140 characters at a time over Twitter.
Some pretty amazing stuff has happened in the technological realm since Golden State last collected a road win in San Antonio, but nobody has figured out how to implant Tim Duncan with a microchip that will allow him to feel human emotions.
So we've still go a ways to go.
Game of Thrones Made It to Television
George R.R. Martin wrote the first installment of Game of Thrones in 1996. Four more books would follow before HBO picked up the series and its popularity exploded.
The series is still unfinished, and at the rate Martin's writing, the saga will probably conclude sometime in 2026. You know, when the Spurs are polishing off their 58th consecutive home win against the Warriors.
Those books may be about winter coming, but based on the history between Golden State and San Antonio, it'll be a cold day in hell before the Dubs crack the win column in San Antonio.
Charles Barkley Blew Up
No fat jokes, please. The Chuckster has been doing his best to slim down.
It would have been impossible to imagine the 1997 version of Charles Barkley eventually becoming one of the sports landscape's most ubiquitous figures. But here we are, 16 years later, and Sir Charles has gone from averaging 19.2 points and 13.5 rebounds per game to dolling out 19.2 "first of alls" and 13.5 "let me tell you somethings" per night on TNT.
First of all, Chuck, thanks for being a constant source of entertainment. And let me tell you something, we're all better off for having him behind the mic.