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San Antonio Spurs – The Early Years

There were doubts and skepticism in the league about how the merged team would play against the NBA teams.

The Spurs would prove that they can match the NBA standard of playing as they finished their debut season in 1976-77 with a record of 44-38. They finished fourth overall in the Eastern Conference despite of some rules that handicapped the franchise.

In the next season, George Gervin and David Thompson were closely battling for the scoring title. In the final games of the season, Thompson had a 73 point game and later Gervin realized that he needed to score 58 points. Later on he finished the game with 63 points, winning the scoring title.

The Spurs ended the season with a 52-30 record. In the first round of the postseason, they played against the Washington Bullets who shocked them in six games.

The next season, they reached the 1979 Conference Finals against the Bullets again. They lost again but now in seven games. As the seasons progress in years, they had had 5 division titles in the first 7 years in the NBA. They never had an NBA title though they were a strong title contender.

In the early 80s, they continued their success with impressive records. They had 52-30 season in 1980-81, 48-34 in 1981-82 and 53-29 in 1982-83. Though they had terrific records, still they were not able to acquire an NBA Championship. Following the 1984-85 season, Gervin was traded to the Chicago Bulls.

After they traded Gervin, the Spurs’ struggling years started. They had a losing record from 1985 to 1989 as they had an overall record of 115-213. In 1987 Draft, they saw a bright spot in their future as they picked center David Robinson. They had to wait for 2 seasons for Robinson to play for them because of a commitment Robinson had with the United States Navy.

In 1988-89 season, they had a disappointing record of 21-61 and it was the year coach Larry Brown debut as the Spurs’ head coach.

In 1989-90 season, Robinson finally joined the Spurs. Along with him was the draftee Sean Elliot and Terry Cummings leading the team. They had a very surprising and impressive record of 56-26, one of the biggest one-season turnaround in NBA history. They advanced through the semis of the playoffs but lost against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Robinson averaged 24.3 points and 12 rebounds per game as he had the one of the most successful rookie season by a center. In the start of 1990-91 season, they were regarded as one of the elite teams in the league though they fired Brown late in the season and replaced Bob Bass. Robinson was injured through the playoffs that resulted them to be swept in the first round by the Phoenix Suns.

They hired Jerry Tarkanian from the UNLV but was fire after 20 games in the season. It was John Lucas who replaced Tarkanian. They found success with Lucas as he finished the rest of the season with 39-22 record.

The next season, Lucas and the Spurs had a 55-27 record. Despite of the impressive record, they had an early exit in the first round against the Jazz that resulted to the firing of Lucas. In the offseason, Elliot was traded to the Pistons for Dennis Rodman.

They hired Bob Hill for 1994-95 season and had a very successful season, finishing 62-20 record. Robinson was named the MVP of the season. They had reached the Western Conference Finals but lost against the Houston Rockets in six games. In their next season, they had a 59-23 season and through the playoffs, they lost against the Jazz in the semis.

The following season was resulted to their worst season with 20-62 record because of the absence of Robinson being injured and Sean Elliot. In the early days of the season, they hired Greg Popovich as the head coach.


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