We all know the names that are entrenched in San Antonio Spurs history, but these five impressive players also spent time in the Alamo City.
In the modern era of player movement and player empowerment, it’s an increasing rarity to see a player spend their entire career with one team. Even with media machines like ESPN constructing narratives about players leaving for greener pastures, it’s surprising to see a player spend more than ten years with a team. The San Antonio Spurs are no stranger to this.
Of the players who are applauded for spending their entire careers with one team, the Spurs have two of the greats. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are right up there with the rest of the greatest players in NBA history to devote their careers to just one franchise. Were it not for one lone year with the Charlotte Hornets, which we try to just forget about, Tony Parker would be right there with them.
Even as they are known for having the pillars of their franchise begin and end their careers in San Antonio, the Spurs have also had quite a few impressive players stop in for a cup of coffee.
They may have been making an appearance while looking for their next stop or trying to secure one last contract before retiring, but these five former San Antonio Spurs will surprise you.
Next: A sharpshooter taking his last shot
After spending his career traveling around the Western Conference, Kevin Martin eventually ended his playing time with the San Antonio Spurs back in 2016.
He began his playing career with the Sacramento Kings, and made stops in Oklahoma City, Houston, and Minneapolis, before eventually coming to San Antonio after he was waived by the Timberwolves in a buy-out agreement.
Known for his unorthodox, yet remarkably efficient, shooting stroke, Martin was one of the better scorers in the NBA throughout his time in the league. A career 38.4 percent shooter from deep, Martin’s scoring ability made him a valuable asset to any team he played on.
He only played in 16 games for the Spurs, starting one, but his brief stint with San Antonio was a strange sight to be sure. After making big shots against the Spurs while with the Kings and Rockets it was just plain odd to see him wearing our colors. Not as strange as some of the players soon to be named though.
Next: Türkoğlu's travels
Another former Sacramento King, Hedo Turkoglu spent one season with the San Antonio Spurs before his career took off with the Orlando Magic.
After being the first Turkish born player selected in the NBA draft, Turkoglu began his NBA career with the Sacramento Kings, garnering some attention for a potential Sixth Man of the Year bid along the way, before eventually being traded to San Antonio.
Hedo was an important role player for the Spurs throughout the 2003-04 season. He had one of the best shooting years of his career that year, knocking down what was then a career-high 42 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Of course, Turkoglu is better known for his time with the Orlando Magic. He won Most Improved Player of the Year while in Orlando, and was on the Magic team that lost to the Kobe led Lakers in the NBA Finals.
One of the more fascinating “what if’s” in San Antonio Spurs history, it’s certainly interesting to think about how the fates of the Spurs and Turkoglu would have changed had he decided to stay in San Antonio. His floor spacing ability was ahead of its time and could have been quite potent with Tim Duncan’s post skill had the two parties been able to come to an agreement that kept Hedo in Texas.
Next: Mr. 13 points in 35 seconds
The wildest name on this list, Tracy McGrady played the final NBA games of his career with the San Antonio Spurs after breaking the hearts of Spurs fans everywhere with one of the craziest moments in recent memory.
One of the most dangerous scorers in NBA history, T-Mac was at the top of his game when he came to Houston before the 2004-05 season. Already a two-time scoring champion, McGrady’s bag was deep and his game was artful. That was on full display that one fateful night in Houston.
A four-point play over Tim Duncan, pull-up three over Bruce Bowen, and the last-second game-winner over two Spurs contesting the shot to put it all away. Undisputedly one of the most impressive game-winning moments in NBA history.
McGrady was one of the most impressive players of his generation, but we will always be left wondering if he could’ve been greater. Injuries to his back, shoulder, and knee robbed him of the game-altering athleticism that helped him dominate for much of his career. By the time he came to San Antonio in 2013 he was just a shadow of the All-NBA player he had once been.
He was added to the Spurs roster just in time to make a run to the 2013 NBA Finals with San Antonio. Despite the pain he had inflicted on Spurs fans in the past, McGrady received thunderous applause every time he checked into the game.
His impact on the game, the questions of what could have been, and the storyline of an all-time great making one last run at a championship endeared him to a fanbase that had cursed him just years before in an incredibly unique way. Aside from the heartbreak that Ray Allen‘s Game 6 3-pointer put on Spurs fans as a whole, it’s a shame that it cost McGrady his last and best chance at an NBA title.
Next: The Human Highlight Reel
His best playing days were already way behind him when Dominique Wilkins came to San Antonio in 1996. In between playing stints in Greece and Italy, the Human Highlight Reel came to the Alamo City to solidify the Spurs scoring.
In a strange season that saw star center David Robinson shut down due to injury, Wilkins actually led the Spurs in scoring. In the preseason, a team with Robinson, Wilkins, Sean Elliott, Avery Johnson, and Vinny Del Negro seemed to have the potential to make a deep playoff run. In reality, it would end up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
In a weird way, Wilkins was actually with the Spurs for one of the most important seasons in franchise history as well. Injuries to Robinson and Elliot tanked the Spurs post-season hopes and they would end the season with the worst record in the NBA. Having a former star like Wilkins on the roster brought some entertainment value and softened the blow of a season lost.
It would all end up being worth it, as the Spurs would select future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan with the number one overall pick in the 1997 NBA draft. Funnily enough, Wilkins was the last player to wear number 21 before Duncan took it over in 1997.
This wouldn’t be the last the NBA would see of Dominique, he would return to the states one more time to play 27 games with the Orlando Magic during the 1998-99 season. Between bouncing between irrelevant teams and European leagues, it was certainly a strange end to a storied career.
Next: The Chairman of the Boards
The final player on our list is another Hall of Famer, Moses Malone. The final chapter of an illustrious 23-year career for the Chairman of the Boards came in San Antonio during the 1994-95 season.
Malone was brought in to back up, and teach, David Robinson as The Admiral stormed out of the gates in one of the greatest stretches to begin a career the NBA has ever seen. His presence, along with Dennis Rodman, on the team severely limited Malone’s playing time, he would appear in only 17 games for the Spurs.
Malone’s on the court impact in San Antonio was negligible, he averaged just 2.9 points per game in the few games that he did play in. His time in San Antonio is more noteworthy for what it meant historically.
As one of the four ABA teams brought into the NBA during the 1976 merger, it is only fitting that Malone would end his career as the last active player from the ABA with San Antonio.
There you have it, five former San Antonio Spurs you may have forgotten about. Most were known for their contributions to different teams but across the history of the NBA, you can find plenty of interesting paths crossing as players move from franchise to franchise. This trend is only going to increase as players continue to take on a great role in shaping their careers.