5 San Antonio Spurs you might not remember from championship seasons
By Josh Paredes
The San Antonio Spurs have always had a team mentality. While stars and talented role players are the main reasons for the franchise’s success, even 15th men have a place in San Antonio history.
Given the success the San Antonio Spurs have enjoyed over the past 20+ seasons, it’s safe to say their dominant stretch has created many household names over the years. Names like David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Kawhi Leonard have not only become legendary within San Antonio, but throughout the world.
While a strong core of stars is key to any championship run, the Spurs have managed to maintain solid supporting casts through smart drafting and development, trades, and the occasional free agency signing. Even casual fans should be able to recognize names that were vital to these championship runs such as Malik Rose, Bruce Bowen, Robert Horry, and Boris Diaw.
Being that an NBA roster allows a maximum of 15 players at any time, there are bound to be players that don’t quite see the floor as often as they’d like to each season. While diehard fans may remember these bench players, others may have a tough time.
Here are some of the lesser-known players that occupied a roster spot throughout the Spurs’ championship seasons.
Next: 1999: Andrew Gaze
1999: Andrew Gaze
Australia native Andrew Gaze never quite made a splash in the NBA. Gaze began his NBA career with the Washington Bullets during the 1993-94 season, showing up in just seven games. In these appearances, the shooting guard scored 3.1 points per game with 0.7 assists, averaging 10 minutes played per appearance.
After spending four years playing in Australia’s National Basketball League, Gaze joined the Spurs for the 1998-99 season at the age of 33. In his brief stint, the Aussie played an average of 3.1 minutes per game, scoring 1.1 points per contest. Given that this Spurs team was loaded with shooting guards such as Mario Elie, Jaren Jackson and Antonio Daniels, it is not a surprise that Gaze was only able to appear in 19 games throughout the shortened season.
While Andrew Gaze never quite had an opportunity to make a name for himself in the NBA, he is regarded as one of the greatest players in NBL history. Retiring in 2005, he finished a 22-year career with the Melbourne Tigers, where he averaged 30.9 points and 5.8 assists per game over that span.
Gaze was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2013, and is currently an ambassador for the Beehive Foundation, which creates programs to help the youth of Australia.
Next: 2003: Anthony Goldwire
2003: Anthony Goldwire
Anthony Goldwire made his NBA debut with the Charlotte Hornets in 1996. Over the course of the next several seasons, the point guard became somewhat of a journeyman, playing for the Denver Nuggets for two seasons, then overseas in Greece and Spain.
After playing with Denver for one more season followed by a year in Italy, the Florida native ended up on the Spurs roster during the 2002-03 season. Goldwire showed up in just ten games for the Silver and Black, averaging 1.2 points and 5.1 minutes per game.
While the Houston University graduate did not ultimately make the playoff roster, Goldwire won three CBA titles over his career, ending his playing career in Spain in 2009.
It takes an entire team to win a championship, and Goldwire’s contribution to this NBA title team should not be forgotten.
Next: 2005: Mike Wilks
2005: Mike Wilks
After graduating from Rice University, Mike Wilks went undrafted but ultimately was noticed by the Atlanta Hawks while playing in the NBDL. The 5’10” point guard also played for Minnesota and Houston before joining the Spurs during their title run in 2005.
Wilks appeared in 48 games for the eventual champions, averaging 1.7 points and nearly six minutes per game. While he did not end up logging any playoff minutes, Mike Wilks won a title with the team before continuing his NBA career with five more teams, including the Denver Nuggets and Washington Wizards.
After retiring in 2011, Wilks joined the Oklahoma City Thunder as a scout, and is currently an assistant coach for the team.
Wilks put together a solid and lengthy career, but his major highlight was certainly running with the World Champion Spurs in ’05.
Next: 2007: Melvin Ely
2007: Melvin Ely
Melvin Ely began his NBA career with the Los Angeles Clippers during the 2002-03 season. After being traded to Charlotte, the power forward/center enjoyed career-highs in minutes played and points per game over the next two seasons.
In February 2007, the Spurs traded Eric Williams and a 2009 second round pick to the Bobcats for Ely, bolstering their already-tall roster. As a member of the squad that would go on to win its third championship in five seasons, the Fresno State standout showed up in just six games, averaging 3.2 points and 2.3 rebounds per contest.
Melvin was another player on this list that did not play a single minute in the playoffs, but he made the playoff roster and ended up with a championship ring. Currently, Ely is an assistant coach with the Canton Charge of the NBA G League.
Next: 2014: Malcolm Thomas
2014: Malcolm Thomas
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Believe it or not, 2014 was not the first time Malcolm Thomas donned a Spurs uniform. After being signed by the Lakers in 2011 and then waived before seeing any playing time, the San Diego State power forward spent some time with their G-League affiliate the Los Angeles D-Fenders.
Thomas made his NBA debut after being signed by the Spurs in January 2012, playing in a blowout win versus the Portland Trailblazers. His time on the team was short-lived as he was eventually waived on February 7th.
After stints with multiple teams including the Warriors and Bulls, Thomas found himself back on the Spurs in December 2013. He would play in only one game, tallying two points and nine rebounds in a blowout victory over Milwaukee.
After being waived a second time, Thomas would miss out on winning a title with the Spurs, and continue bouncing around different leagues.
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Overall, the journeyman would play for 14 different teams across multiple leagues and countries, including Puerto Rico, China, and Russia. He is currently a member of the Few Good Men team as part of ESPN’s The Basketball Tournament.