San Antonio Spurs: Ranking the 5 Best Championship Teams

SAN ANTONIO, TX - DECEMBER 7: Head Coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs looks on before the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 7, 2018 at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - DECEMBER 7: Head Coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs looks on before the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 7, 2018 at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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SAN ANTONIO,TX – DECEMBER 18: Former San Antonio Spurs stars Tim Duncan listens to the speeches during the ceremony honoring and retiring of Tim Duncan number after the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at AT
SAN ANTONIO,TX – DECEMBER 18: Former San Antonio Spurs stars Tim Duncan listens to the speeches during the ceremony honoring and retiring of Tim Duncan number after the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at AT

The San Antonio Spurs have made five NBA championship runs during their franchise history and featured some deep rosters on those title teams.

Since the San Antonio Spurs won their first NBA championship in 1999, the Spurs have become the winningest franchise in the NBA.

In 20 years the Spurs have earned five championships in their six NBA Finals appearances, and have never missed the playoffs during that stretch.

Hall of Fame caliber players such as Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Kawhi Leonard have all played a part in their championship success along with other great role players.

San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich and General Manager R.C. Buford have been the masterminds behind the team’s success, creating a consistent winning culture. Whether it’s a young Stephen Jackson or Danny Green, or picking up Bruce Bowen in free agency, or drafting Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili outside of the lottery, the Spurs have been able to build championship teams with names that weren’t highly sought after.

Looking back at all of the championship teams the Spurs have had, one can make a great debate about which team was the best.

Whether it’s the depth of each team, which superstar was in their prime, or the strength of the competition, ranking the best San Antonio Spurs championship team can be judged on many different factors.

As the Spurs currently look to build a team that can bring home a sixth NBA championship, here is a look at the five best championship teams from in their franchise history.

Next: 5. 1999 San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio Spurs – MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images
San Antonio Spurs – MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images

5. 1999 San Antonio Spurs

The 1999 San Antonio Spurs championship run had a Cinderella feel to it as they defeated the New York Knicks in five games to win their first NBA title.

Veterans such as David Robinson, Mario Elie, Sean Elliot, and Avery Johnson, were able to witness the dominance of a young Tim Duncan who took advantage of Patrick Ewing sitting out for the Knicks.

The 1998-1999 NBA season was one of the most bizarre seasons the league had seen due to the many headlines it faced coming into the year.

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The season would be shortened due to a lockout, Michael Jordan had just retired while former Bull Scottie Pippen played for the Houston Rockets and Dennis Rodman played for the Los Angeles Lakers, and Gregg Popovich was on the hot seat only a couple years into his Spurs tenure. After a slow start to the regular season, the media was speculating if Popovich would finish the season as the Spurs’ head coach.

The decision to keep Coach Popovich not only saved their season, but would save the franchise for many years to come.

During their playoff run ,the Spurs would beat the heavily-favored Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trailblazers before defeating the Knicks, who were the first team in NBA history to make it to the Finals as the eighth seed.

Tim Duncan would receive the Finals MVP in this series as he and the Spurs franchise officially arrived on the championship scene.

Next: 4. 2007 San Antonio Spurs

4. 2007 San Antonio Spurs

In 2007, the NBA saw the emergence of LeBron James in the postseason as he would lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals. His historic performance against the Detroit Pistons in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals was one of the best playoff performances in NBA history.

The 2007 playoffs also featured the “We Believe” Golden State Warriors run, as the eight seed pulled off an upset over the number-one seeded Dallas Mavericks.

Those two moments stick out the most when people bring up the 2007 NBA playoffs, but the Spurs were dominant during their championship run. They defeated the Nuggets in five games, the Suns in six and the Jazz in five before sweeping the Cavaliers in the Finals.

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During the second round series against the Phoenix Suns, Amar’e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw would sit out an elimination game due to entering the court from the bench after a hard foul committed by Robert Horry on Steve Nash.

Some analysts believe that the Suns were destined for a title run in 2007 if it weren’t for those suspensions.

Despite the conspiracy theories, the Spurs were dominant during their playoff run and relied on Tony Parker’s speed and ability to get to the paint as he would go on to receive the Finals MVP.

Next: 3. 2005 San Antonio Spurs

SAN ANTONIO – JUNE 25: San Antonio Spurs players Tim Duncan and Bruce Bowen celebrate with over 300,000 San Antonians that crowded the River Walk in celebration of the Spurs third NBA Championship in seven years at San Antonio River Walk on June 25, 2005 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO – JUNE 25: San Antonio Spurs players Tim Duncan and Bruce Bowen celebrate with over 300,000 San Antonians that crowded the River Walk in celebration of the Spurs third NBA Championship in seven years at San Antonio River Walk on June 25, 2005 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)

3. 2005 San Antonio Spurs

The 2004-2005 season saw a power shift in the league due to a few key offseason moves.

Kobe and Shaq split up after their NBA Finals loss against the Detroit Pistons as Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat. Steve Nash would leave the Dallas Mavericks and sign with the Phoenix Suns, and the Indiana Pacers would sign Stephen Jackson making them a threat in the East to compete against the defending champion Pistons.

However, a brawl that took place between the Pacers and Pistons would leave many of Indiana’s top players suspended for the whole year or most of the season.

In the Western Conference, Steve Nash would have an MVP season and lead the Suns to the best record in the West.

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The Spurs were coming off a devastating lost in the playoffs to the Lakers the previous year after Derek Fisher made a tough turn around jump-shot with four-tenths of a second left to steal game 5, before finishing the series in LA in game 6.

San Antonio would sign veteran Brent Barry in the offseason and also pick up Nazr Mohammed in a mid-season trade to help shape up their championship run.

After defeating the Nuggets and Sonics, the Spurs would defeat the Phoenix Suns in five games in the Western Conference Finals to return to the NBA Championship to face the defending champion Detroit Pistons.

The first four games were blowouts, as the home teams dominated. With the series being tied at 2-2, and epic Game 5 took place as Robert Horry hit the game-winner to give the Spurs a 3-2 lead heading back to San Antonio.

Detroit would bounce back and earn a surprising Game 6 victory on the road to force the Spurs to close out the series in Detroit in Game 7.

Tim Duncan would receive his third Finals MVP award in six years.

Next: 2. 2014 San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs celebrate with the NBA Championship Larry O’Brien trophy after defeating the Miami Heat, 104-87, in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, on Sunday, June 15, 2014. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
The San Antonio Spurs celebrate with the NBA Championship Larry O’Brien trophy after defeating the Miami Heat, 104-87, in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, on Sunday, June 15, 2014. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)

2. 2014 San Antonio Spurs

The 2014 San Antonio Spurs team was special for many different reasons.

After losing in heartbreaking fashion to the Miami Heat the year before, the Spurs were able to bounce back, get to the Finals, and dominate the super team Heat the next season.

Since LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in Miami in the summer of 2010, the Heat went to the NBA Finals every year and were looking to finish off a three-peat in 2014.

The Spurs  were able to advance through a tough Western Conference that included a seven-game first round series against the Dallas Mavericks, a young Portland Trail Blazers team in the second round, and a Conference Finals matchup against a talented Oklahoma Thunder team, who had beat San Antonio in the Conference Finals back in 2012.

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This team featured one of most deepest and talented Spurs rosters in franchise history.

Despite Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili being past their prime, a young Kawhi Leonard was ready to take the torch for the Spurs as he went head-to-head with LeBron James and won the Finals MVP.

Along with those four marquee players, the Spurs had a great supporting cast that featured Danny Green, Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, Tiago Splitter, Cory Joseph, Marco Belinelli, and Matt Bonner.

San Antonio went on an offensive explosion after losing at home in Game 2, and never looked back as they finished off Miami in five games.

This championship would be the last for the trio of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili, and would also be the last for Kawhi Leonard in a Spurs Uniform.

They are also currently the last non-Warriors team to represent the West in the NBA Finals, as Golden State has been to the Finals every year since.

Next: 1. 2003 San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio Spus – Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
San Antonio Spus – Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

1. 2003 San Antonio Spurs

There will be a debate among Spurs fans regarding which of the championship teams are the best, but I’ve concluded that the 2003 San Antonio Spurs should be at the top of the list.

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After winning the championship in 1999, many analysts felt that the championship run was a fluke due to the shortened NBA season.

In a three year span, the Spurs would lose in the first round to the Suns in 2000, get swept by the Lakers in the conference Finals in 2001, and lose to the Lakers in five games in the second round of the 2002 playoffs.

In the summer of 2002, David Robinson announced that he would retire after the season.

The Lakers were by far the most dominant team in sports as they would head into the 2002-2003 NBA season looking to win their fourth straight title.

Many Spurs fans say the 2014 team was the most deepest team, but the 2003 San Antonio Spurs featured four quality shooting guards in Stephen Jackson, Manu Ginobili, Steve Smith, and Steve Kerr. They also had a front court consisting of Bruce Bowen, Tim Duncan, and David Robinson with Tony Parker running the point, while other solid veterans came off the bench such as Malik Rose, Danny Ferry, Speedy Claxton, and Kevin Willis.

This team was loaded with talent as they finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA, and Tim Duncan would receive his second straight MVP award.

San Antonio’s road to a championship included four six-game series.

They defeated the Suns in the first round, the Mavericks in the conference finals, and the Nets in the NBA Finals, but their most impressive victory of the postseason came against the three-time defending champion LA Lakers. They would close out the Lakers in six including a win on the Staples Center floor to eliminate yet another super team.

The Lakers were so dominant at that time that it felt like the Spurs won the NBA Championship when they defeating them in the second round.

One of the most memorable moments of that series, was the devastation Kobe, Shaq and Derek Fisher had on their faces after realizing their run was over.

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Next. Top 25 players in Spurs history

Today, we praise Kawhi Leonard for putting a stop to two potential three-peats, but for the Spurs to defeat a Laker team in six games after they won three straight championships makes them the most impressive title team in San Antonio history.

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