San Antonio Spurs: A Perennial Championship Contender

On Wednesday, the San Antonio Spurs celebrated their fifth NBA championship with a victory parade. San Antonio defeated the back-to-back champion Miami Heat in five games Sunday to add to the allure that is Spurs basketball. With eight international players, San Antonio outscored Miami by a Finals record 70 points during the series.

Previously, the Spurs won NBA titles in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007 beating the New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Last year San Antonio fell to the Heat in a thrilling seven-game NBA Finals series. In Game 6, the Spurs were 28.3 seconds and one made free throw, one defensive rebound or one Ray Allen missed 3-pointer away from winning their fifth ring.

Fueled by the 2013 Finals loss to Miami, San Antonio played the entire 2013-14 campaign with a chip on their shoulder. Even Marco Belinelli, a newcomer, flourished in the Spurs’ system, scoring 11.4 points per game during the regular season.

It’s what San Antonio has done the last 17 years since Tim Duncan (15.1 PPG) has entered the league. Manu Ginobili (12.3 PPG), who joined Duncan in 2002, said it best after winning his fourth championship: “There was not one season since I’m in the NBA that I really didn’t truly believe that we could have won it. Every year we were up there. Sometimes we were No. 1, and we lost in the first round. Some other times we were seventh, and we had a shot at winning it.”

Six NBA Teams Have Titles The Last 16 Years, Three With Three Or More

In other words, the Spurs are a perennial championship contender. Every year many teams think they can win the title, but only a few have actually done so since 1999.

Along with San Antonio, the Los Angeles Lakers also have won five rings since 1999, while the Heat have won three championships. The Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons have won one title each, respectively. LA and Miami have lost the NBA Finals twice.

After the Spurs’ first championship, Timmy injured his knee late in the season and wasn’t available for the 2000 NBA Playoffs. The Phoenix Suns made the most of the Big Fundamental’s absence beating San Antonio 3-1 during the first round. The next two years the Lakers ousted the Spurs en route to winning a couple more titles.

San Antonio, like they did in 1999, beat Los Angeles during the 2003 postseason on their way to the Spurs’ second ring. Despite David Robinson‘s retirement, Duncan, off of his first NBA Most Value Player award and second Finals MVP, led an overhauled roster of nine players to an incredibly successful year.

Jun 15, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) and San Antonio Spurs former player David Robinson celebrates after game five of the 2014 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat at AT&T Center. The Spurs beat the Heat 104-87 to win the NBA Finals. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Alamo City Was Arguably 2 Plays Away From A Chance At 4 Straight Championships

At 57-25, San Antonio was one game short of the No. 1 seed. It proved costly as the Spurs and Lakers swapped two second-round victories each until Derek Fisher‘s 0.4-second game-winner. LA, however, fell to Detroit in five games that year.

San Antonio, meanwhile, wound up beating the Pistons for their third title the following season. The next year the Spurs came bitterly close to playing for another ring, but a costly Ginobili foul on Dirk Nowitzki late in Game 7 helped Dallas force overtime and advance. The Mavs went on to play the Heat during the NBA Finals and fell in six games.

If Fisher (New York’s coach) didn’t release the ball on time and Manu didn’t hack Nowitzki on a 3-point play, Alamo City might have played for a championship four years in a row. Regardless, determined San Antonio made up for the 2006 loss with their fourth title the following year by sweeping LeBron James‘ Cleveland Cavaliers.

Tough Playoff Losses To Rivals Provides Great Motivation, Bulletin Board Material

Again gassed in 2008, the Spurs were vanquished by the Lakers in five games, following a frisky seven-game series with Chris Paul‘s New Orleans Hornets. Los Angeles lost to Boston in six games, but would win the Finals the next two years.

As for San Antonio, Dallas and Phoenix eliminated the Spurs during the first and second round in five and four games, respectively. Three more heartbreaking seasons followed. Top-seeded San Antonio lost a six-game battle to the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies before the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami ousted the Spurs in six and seven games during the Western Conference Finals and NBA Finals.

Since 1999 San Antonio has won five titles, lost to the Finals champion three times and been bounced by the West’s NBA Finals representative six times. That right there is full proof the Spurs have been a perennial championship contender.

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