Spurs Top 5 Heartbreaking Games in the Tim Duncan Era


I recently presented what I thought were the 10 Most Exciting Spurs Games (wins) of All Time in the Duncan Era.

If you have not checked out the two part article, please do, as it will bring back memories from 1999 through 2014. Like life itself, where their are peaks and valleys, good moments, and bad, the same rings true for the Spurs over the years.

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Yes, Spurs fans are spoiled with five NBA Championships, and winning season after winning season. However, there could have easily been more Championships, and longer playoff runs certain years if not for heartbreaking losses, often involving controversial officiating.

So while I recommend enjoying  the highlights from the Top 10 All Time Exciting Spurs games as often as your heart’s desire, this list will not be one you will want to revisit. Never the less, it needs to be acknowledged, as it too, is a part of the Spurs rich history.

These losses made the Spurs stronger, and the wins and the Championships all the sweeter for both the Spurs themselves and of course die hard fans like you and I.

5. Spurs vs Lakers Game 4, 2008 Western Conference FinalsJoey Crawford Swallows his Whistle. With the Spurs trailing by 2 points, Brent Barry took the inbound pass, faked Derek Fisher into the air, and then had Fisher land on him, as he took a dribble and then launched a 3 point shot. There is not a doubt that it was a foul. Crawford one year after being suspended for throwing out Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench, seemed to get his revenge.

Instead of Barry, a great free throw shooter going to the line for a chance to send the game to overtime, the Lakers were handed a 3-1 series lead which they finished off the next game in Los Angeles.

4. Spurs vs Thunder Game 2, 2016: Baseline Ref Inexplicably Ignores Jersey Being Held? This game was so poorly officiated in the final critical seconds, it is embarrassing. It show how refs can affect a game, and turn an entire series on its head. Everyone talked about Waiters shoving Ginobili as he in-bounded the pass for the Thunder, but that wasn’t the worst call that wasn’t made.

After the Spurs stole that pass, and Mills launched an air ball from the corner, Aldridge was in position to get the rebound, only to have Serge Ibaka grab his jersey! The ref on the baseline is right there looking at it! It makes me furious as I write this, and re-live it again.

The INJUSTICE! So, instead of Aldridge going to the line where he was 10 for 10 from the line, and having the  chance to make the game winning free throws (the Spurs trailed by a single point), the refs instead gift wrapped Game 2, and handed over home court advantage to the Thunder.

They also blew a couple of calls in the waning seconds of Game 5 of this series, but after Game 2’s travesties, it was just adding insult to injury.

3. Spurs vs Mavericks Game 7 2006: Over the Back Foul Ignored. This game is remembered for Manu Ginobili fouling a driving Dirk Nowitzki who converted a 3 point play, sending the game into overtime. The Mavericks then prevailed in overtime. If it had just ended that way, I would understand, and tip my hat to the Mavericks that year.

Unfortunately, I can’t find a clip of it, but something else did happen before overtime. Ginobili drove on the last possession of the 4th quarter with the game tied. Ginobili missed his shot, but Tim Duncan was there to grab the rebound. Duncan quickly looked to put it back in for the game winner, but was hacked from behind by Nowitzki.

Duncan should have gone to the line needing just 1 free throw to win the game and the series. Nowitzki to his credit, later admitted that he did in fact foul Duncan. Respect to Dirk Nowitzki, and shame to NBA reffing crew.

In place of that clip I offer you Crawford ejecting Duncan for laughing? This was against the Mavericks in the regular season of 2007. This one actually is funny to watch again!

2. Spurs vs Lakers Game 5 2004: Fisher with .4 Impossible Shot. After Duncan hit a falling away shot from the top of the key over Shaquille O’Neal, the game seemed to be over. And let’s be real, it should have been. Had the Lakers been facing the basket and caught a pass and released it, or tipped in an alley-oop pass or something possible, then yes I could accept the loss as fair.

The fact that Fisher caught a pass with his back to the basket, turned and shot, and did this before .4 seconds elapsed is not possible. Shame on the shot clock operator in San Antonio and the refereeing crew. It hadn’t happened before this or since this, and will never happen again in my opinion. Why? Because it isn’t possible to turn around and shoot in .4 seconds.

1. Spurs vs Heat Game 6, 2013. A Rebound Away And a Foul Ignored. The Spurs were 29 seconds away from being NBA Champions. Ginobili went 1 for 2 at the line and the Spurs led by 5 points. The next two possessions by the Heat resulted in two missed 3 pointers followed by two offensive rebounds and two made 3 pointers.

In between these mad scrambles for a rebound, Leonard had a free throw rattle in and out. The result was a Championship lost and heartbreak like I have never felt in sports. This was the agony of defeat. This was 3:00 in the morning, wake up in a sweat, nauseous, and hating that I am such a big Spurs fan agony of defeat.

There were three controversial no calls in this game. The main one was, Ginobili driving to the basket and getting hacked by Allen, and again a game deciding No Call. Ginobili would have gone to the line with a chance to win the game as the Spurs only trailed by 1 point with just 1.9 seconds left in overtime.

That wraps it up. I can’t bear to write another word or view another clip of these heartbreaking moments. I’m sad the refs have played such a big part in these tragic defeats, but am proud of the Spurs for getting back in the proverbial saddle and showing the fortitude to overcome all the obstacles and setbacks.

Coming back in 2005 to win it after the controversial Fisher shot. Returning to win it all after Nowitzki got away with a last second foul. That is why when they prevailed in 2014, it was the sweetest of all the Championships, because of the errant rebounds,  unlucky bounces of the ball and the missed foul on Ginobili in the last seconds of overtime.

must read: Is Tony Parker a Hall of Famer?

Maybe this year, the Spurs can bounce back once again after the controversial No calls against the Thunder last year, and bring home another Championship! If not, let the Spurs get beaten fair and square, that I can respect.