Legends of the game make up San Antonio Spurs All-Decade team
The San Antonio Spurs have had one of the best ten year stretches in modern sports from 2010-2020. This is our all-decade team.
The 2010s were an amazing decade for the San Antonio Spurs. True legends of the game passed through the AT&T Center and some of the greatest games in Spurs history took place. There are very few professional sports organizations that were able to sustain the same level of success that the Spurs have for the past ten years.
“Rebound Bosh, back out to Allen, his three-pointer…BANG!” That moment, Ray Allen‘s game-tying three-pointer in the 2013 NBA Finals, will haunt San Antonio Spurs fans for the rest of time. An absolute gut punch, one of the most iconic shots in NBA history by one of the greatest shooters, snatched the Larry O’Brien Trophy right away. But it also set up what was the single most beautiful season of basketball that I’ve ever seen.
The 2013-14 NBA season and run to their fifth NBA championship was the peak of the San Antonio Spurs. You’ve probably seen the video tribute to that year’s team, most Spurs fans have. In it, you can see the Spurs carve opponents up with beautiful ball movement, excellent shooting, and a passion and joy for playing with one another that is incredibly rare in sports.
Across the decade the Spurs have had dozens of key players who’ve helped them maintain their historic excellence. From fan favorites to Hall of Famers, three-point experts to defensive dynamo’s, it was a total team effort that helped make the last ten years of San Antonio Spurs basketball so enjoyable. Here is our San Antonio Spurs All-Decade team.
Next: Point Guard
Point Guard: Tony Parker
Although he was the only member of the Big Three to wear the jersey of another NBA team, Tony Parker will always and forever be remembered as a San Antonio Spur. The 28th overall pick by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2001 NBA draft, Parker retired as a four-time NBA Champion, six-time All-Star, and no-doubt Hall of Famer.
Parker came to San Antonio as a whirling dervish of a 19-year-old. A blur on the court, he butted heads with Gregg Popovich frequently in the early stretches of his career. But Pop was able to bring greatness out of Parker and help him become the floor general the Spurs needed.
Parker’s mastery around the rim was something special. Despite his short stature, he was regularly one of the best in the league at getting points at the rim thanks to his speed, spin move, and a deft touch around the basket. He was able to change direction on a dime and always find a way to get his shot off among the giants.
Parker joined the other members of the Big Three this year when he had his jersey retired in the rafters of the AT&T Center. It was one of the final pages written in the story of the winningest trio in NBA history. All that is left for them now is the Hall of Fame.
Patty Mills, George Hill, Cory Joseph
Off the honorable mentions, Patty Mills is the most noteworthy. He’s the only member of the 2014 Finals team who is still with the Spurs. He’s in the middle of a career year and continues to be a fountain of knowledge for the Spurs younger guards.
Next: Shooting Guard
Shooting Guard: Manu Ginobili
All of the Big Three hold a special place in the hearts of San Antonio Spurs fans but there is something about Manu Ginobili that makes him different. It could be his flair for the spectacular, his ability to go between frustrating and awe-inspiring at a moment’s notice, or his special connection to San Antonio’s Hispanic community. He was just different than the others.
Manu spent his entire NBA career in a Spurs uniform and retires as two-time All-Star, four-time NBA Champion, and one of the best Sixth Men to ever play the game. Manu could have very easily been a starter for the Spurs or any other NBA team but his acceptance of his role as the Spurs sixth man set the Spurs above the rest of the league.
While many teams stagnated when their bench came in, San Antonio was regularly able to come back into games or blow leads wide open when Manu took the floor. He was the total package as a player, able to impact the game any way he wanted. He also moonlighted as the Spurs resident bat swatter.
He won’t go down as the greatest member of the Big Three, that title is reserved for someone else, but he may go down as the most loved. His jersey retirement in March of this year was full of laughs and tears as Spurs fans remembered his amazing career with the team.
His playing time is over but he could come back to the Spurs someday. As was reported earlier this year by New York Times’ Marc Stein, Manu was offered a spot on the Spurs coaching staff this year but turned it down. It seems he was just enjoying retirement too much to dive right back into the world of professional basketball. Who knows though, maybe down the road he could get the itch to get back into basketball. What a sight that would be to have Manu on the bench.
Danny Green, Gary Neal
Green and Neal are linked together as Honorable Mentions. Together, the two light up the Miami Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals. Green was the more impactful of the two and spent more time with the Spurs but both deserve their place on this team.
Next: Small Forward
Small Forward: Kawhi Leonard
There are many who still harbor some resentment towards Kawhi Leonard for how his time in San Antonio ended but no one can dispute that he deserves his place on this list. In his time with the Spurs, Kawhi grew from a quiet defense-first player to a quiet two-way superstar.
Plenty of credit can be given to the Big Three and the rest of the San Antonio Spurs supporting cast but the 2014 NBA Championship would not have been possible without Kawhi. There’s a video of LeBron reacting to Kawhi checking back into a game with a certain four-letter word that summarizes how he felt about having to be guarded by the Klaw again.
In his time with San Antonio Kawhi would make All-NBA teams, win Defensive Player of the Year, and his first NBA Title. That kind of resume gets you a spot on the All-Decade team.
Kawhi was supposed to be the next great Spurs, the one who helped continue the historic run of success after the Big Three retired. That didn’t pan out as Spurs fans had hoped and there will likely always be some resentment surrounding that. You just have to take a listen to how he was treated on his first return to San Antonio to get a feel for how Spurs fans feel about Kawhi.
At the end of the day basketball is a business and Kawhi made the decision that was best for him. It’s worked out pretty well for him so far. Hopefully, he can someday be remembered for what he did while he was in a Spurs uniform and not how he left.
Rudy Gay, Kyle Anderson
Rudy Gay has been a valuable role player for the Spurs for the past few years and continues to change his game to fit what the team needs. Kyle Anderson aka Slow-Mo was one of the funniest Spurs in recent memory. He moved at a snail’s pace but was always in the right place at the right time and had a herky-jerky game that is just so unique that he had to be included on this team.
Next: Power Forward
Power Forward: LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge joined the San Antonio Spurs halfway through the decade, signing with the team in the summer of 2015. He is still the biggest free-agent acquisition in franchise history. Since he joined the Spurs he has been nothing but consistent, making the All-Star team in three of his first four seasons with the team.
Aldridge serves as the bridge between Spurs eras. He came to the team when the Big Three were all still playing, helped stabilize the franchise while Kawhi managed an injury and was traded away, and has been the engine of the Spurs offense in the aftermath of that trade. The NBA record-tying 22nd consecutive playoff appearance last year would not have been possible without him.
He might be slowing down a bit but his game is still smooth as ever. He’s a post wizard who thrives in the mid-range. The rest of the league may have trended away from mid-range baskets but not Aldridge. He will be hitting fadeaway jumpers and running hooks until he retires.
Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner
Both Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner were key to the Spurs’ success across the decade. Diaw was a smooth passing, worldly forward who fit perfectly into the “Beautiful Game” Spurs style of play. Plus I think he and Gregg Popovich might be soulmates. Matt Bonner was the three-point specialist. The Red Rocket connected on 41 percent of his three’s while with the Spurs.
Center: Tim Duncan
There was never a question about who the center on the San Antonio Spurs All-Decade team was going to be. Tim Duncan, the Big Fundamental, a sure-fire Hall of Famer takes that spot. Manu might have been the most beloved of the Big Three but there is no doubt that Duncan was the greatest.
Duncan is easily a top-ten NBA player of all time and, depending on who you ask, can make a case for being in the top-five. Just look at his resume: 15-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA, 15-time All-Defensive Team, All-Rookie Team, Rookie of the Year, 2-time league MVP, 5-time NBA Champion, 3-time Finals MVP. He ranks 14th all-time in points, sixth in rebounds and fifth in blocks. Old Man Riverwalk was one of the greatest of all time.
Basketball is a team sport and a lot of players contributed to the Spurs historic success but it’s safe to say that none of it would have been possible were it not for Duncan. As sure as you could bet on the sun rising in the morning, you could bet on Timmy.
Blown assignment on the perimeter, Duncan was there to swat away the shot. Need an opposing player’s best player shut down, the Big Fundamental can help with that. Heck, need a game-tying three-pointer? Timmy’s got you.
As impactful as he was during games, the impact that he made in the locker room and in practice was just as important. Dozens of former Spurs have spoken about how much Duncan mentored them, was an amazing leader, and just a great human being.
Even as his career wound down, Duncan was still able to have a positive impact on the team. He made three All-Star teams during the past decade and was always a consistent presence on defense. Even after he retired he wasn’t done helping out the team. He’s now an assistant coach with the Spurs.
Tiago Splitter, Aron Baynes, Boban Marjanović.
Tiago Splitter and Aaron Baynes were both members of the 2014 Championship team and were valuable role players. Baynes is still in the league and is having a great season with the Phoenix Suns. Boban Marjanovic got his start in the NBA and has become a fan favorite wherever he went. When he was originally offered his three-year deal with the Detroit Pistons he almost didn’t go but Pop was eventually able to convince him to do the smart thing and secure the bag. Even though he didn’t play for the Spurs long he will always receive a warm reception whenever he comes back to San Antonio.
There aren’t many teams in the NBA that have an All-Decade team that could go toe to toe with the Spurs group at their peak. From the Big Three to Aldridge and Leonard, all are phenomenal players and all are likely destined for the Hall of Fame. It’s been a great decade for San Antonio Spurs basketball and it wouldn’t have been possible with all of these guys.