The 1996-97 Spurs Team Will Forever Be Remembered

By George Middleton

The San Antonio Spurs have dominated the NBA since 1997. That’s the last time, the Spurs missed the playoffs. The 1996-97 Spurs team will always be remembered by the biggest Spurs fans.

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That season, Gregg Popovich replaced Coach Bob Hill after the Spurs began 3-15. Strangely Hill was fired after leading the Spurs to 59 and 62 wins the previous two seasons. Superstar center David Robinson played only 6 games as he got injured. As a result, the Spurs went 20-62 and selected Tim Duncan with the first pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. It was the first losing season for the Spurs since the 1988-1989 season.

Dominique Wilkins making his return to the NBA for the Spurs was probably the only highlight for the Spurs season. Wilkins led the Spurs, as he averaged 18.2 points. Wilkins looked sharp, as he did most of his damage coming off the bench. Sean Elliott was his sidekick, as he averaged 14.9 points and 4.9 rebounds. Like Robinson, Elliott got injured, as a result he played in only 39 games.

Vernon Maxwell, Avery Johnson, and Vinny Del Negro were key role players in what many feel was a “tanking” season for the Spurs. Maxwell averaged 12.9 points, while Del Negro averaged 12.3 points.

Johnson was one of the better passers in league (6.8 apg) and he was a terrific leader in the clubhouse.

The Spurs finished with the second worst record in the Western Conference. The Vancouver Grizzlies finished with an abysmal 14-68 record.

The Spurs had been a terrific team in the 90s, but the arrival of Duncan and Popovich made them a true dynasty.