The San Antonio Spurs are the winningest NBA franchise over the last two decades, having made the postseason 22 consecutive times since the 1997-98 season. Over this stretch, San Antonio won four championships in the span of nine years and gutted out another one in 2014 with their renowned legendary Big Three of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker on their last legs.
This list is relatively easy, considering that San Antonio has five total championships etched to its name. Here are the best Spurs teams in franchise history:
The Spurs finished the lockout-shortened 1999 NBA season tied with the best record in the NBA. Tim Duncan came into his own in his sophomore campaign and took his rightful place as the face of the franchise from former MVP David Robinson.
The Spurs lost just twice throughout their dominant postseason run, which included a sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers in the West semis and conference finals, respectively. After advancing to their first Finals appearance in franchise history, San Antonio defeated the no. 8 seed New York Knicks to capture their first-ever NBA championship. Tim Duncan won his first of three Finals MVPs with averages of 27.4 points, 14.0 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks in the 5-game route of the Knicks.
The 2006-07 Spurs championship team had a relatively easy run through the 2007 postseason. They lost just four times throughout the playoffs, including sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by a young LeBron James, in the NBA Finals. This marked the first time that a Spurs player not named Tim Duncan won Finals MVP, as Tony Parker took home the Bill Russell trophy for his incredible series against the Cavs.
Arguably San Antonio’s biggest threat to the crown that season was the Phoenix Suns, led by two-time MVP Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. The Spurs and Suns met in the second round and had themselves a classic series. Unfortunately, that showdown was overshadowed by the controversial Robert Horry incident that led to Amare Stoudemire’s suspension in an all-important Game 5, with both teams deadlocked at 2 games apiece.
The 2002-03 Spurs featured the final year of legendary center David Robinson. With The Admiral announcing his retirement prior to the start of the season, San Antonio had a mission to give him one last good memory and end his Hall of Fame career with a championship.
San Antonio finished the regular season with a 60-22 record, the best in the entire league. They won each of their series in six games and even knocked off the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. After displacing the 3-time defending champions off the mountaintop, the Spurs, led by regular season and Finals MVP Tim Duncan, won their second title in franchise history by defeating the Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets. David Robinson, in his final NBA game, turned back the clock with a 13-point, 17-rebound performance.
The 2005 Spurs championship team had arguably their toughest Finals match-up among all their Finals series. San Antonio took on the defending champion Detroit Pistons, which took them to a grueling 7-game series.
Although many would remember this series as a bloodbath, the first four games were not close, as both teams won on their respective home courts via blowout. The final three games, however, were not the case.
The two teams gutted it out in a pivotal Game 5 in Detroit (the NBA deployed a 2-3-2 Finals format at the time). San Antonio was able squeeze by Detroit with a huge 96-95 victory on the road in overtime, highlighted by Robert Horry’s clutch trey that ultimately gave the Spurs the series edge.
The Pistons showed their championship poise by defeating the Spurs on the road in Game 6. However, in the end, the Spurs came out on top by winning the deciding Game 7, where Tim Duncan captured his third NBA Finals MVP.
San Antonio’s 2014 title is arguably the most special among their five championships. The last time the Spurs won the trophy came seven years ago. Likewise, these 2014 Spurs were motivated to erase the pain from the previous season’s NBA Finals defeat to the Miami Heat.
To recall, San Antonio came very close to capturing their fifth title when it came within seconds of knocking off the defending champion Miami Heat in Game 6 of the 2013 Finals. However, Miami made a miraculous come back in the final seconds, highlighted by Ray Allen’s classic three-pointer that tied the game in regulation and forced overtime. Miami defeated the Spurs in a tight Game 7 and denied San Antonio its fifth championship in franchise history.
In 2014, with added motivation to redeem themselves, the Spurs, led by their aging Big Three of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili along with a budding star in Kawhi Leonard, bludgeoned their tormentors from last year. San Antonio dominated Miami in convincing fashion in their Finals rematch, winning the championship in a lop-sided 5-game series. In their four wins, the Spurs won their games by an average of 18 points. Kawhi Leonard came into his own in this series, becoming the third-youngest Finals MVP in league history.