We’re getting down to the wire in the San Antonio Spurs Role Player Bracket Challenge. During the Elite Eight, we had some of our closest finishes!
After a long and winding road to get to this point, only four remain in the San Antonio Spurs Role Player Bracket Challenge. A pool of 64 players spanning five decades comprised a heated bracket that you, the loyal fans of one of the greatest franchises in professional sports, have decided on.
The Elite Eight featured a handful of the most iconic role players to don the silver and black including three No. 1 seeds who were upset in this round. Fan voters showed their love for the 2013 and 2014 NBA Championship teams with three of our finalists coming from the Beautiful Basketball group.
Representing the Guards section of the bracket in this Final Four is Aussie sharpshooter Patty Mills, who defeated floor general Avery Johnson 64.3% to 35.7%. Though Johnson logged 10 seasons and 4474 assists in a Spurs uniform, which is second only to the great Tony Parker, Mills is a beloved figure who’s stuck with the team through thick and thin. In the middle of his most effective season, averaging a career-high 11.7 points per game on an effective field goal percentage of 55.7, Mills made it this far based on the way he wears the team’s culture on his chest.
Patty’s victory came by the greatest margin as power forward Boris Diaw upset forward Robert Horry by only nine percent of votes. While Horry hit some spectacular game-saving shots for the Spurs in his day and finished his career there, Diaw was arguably the most effective player during his time in San Antonio. Horry finished his career with a few rings in the Alamo City, but Diaw was the ultimate catalyst in winning the Spurs’ fifth ring.
Besides that, Diaw was an incredible locker room presence who carried a proud and joyous demeanor with him every step of the way. Horry was an excellent professional, but he also hit a few fierce daggers against the team that likely swung the pendulum in Diaw’s favor.
Believe it or not, that wasn’t the closest margin. The No. 2 seed Bruce Bowen upset No. 1 seed, Sean Elliott, by only 5.2 percent of votes despite never being an All-Star and spending less time with the team. Elliott’s time with the Spurs fluctuated and he may not have ever truly hit his ceiling, but when it mattered the most, he showed up for the silver and black.
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However, Bowen gave 110 percent effort every time down the floor and was influential in three title runs with the silver and black. He began his career with Miami and bounced around the Eastern Conference before landing with the Spurs, where he finished the final eight seasons of his NBA career.
One of the greatest perimeter defenders the game has ever seen, Bowen made eight All-Defensive teams including seven in San Antonio. Elliott is the voice of Spurs basketball on Fox Sports Southwest broadcasts and he’s a beloved figure for the fanbase, but Bowen was probably the more impactful player in terms of the team’s peak of winning.
Last, but certainly not least, Austrian center Jakob Poeltl, a No. 14 seed, was edged out by No. 1 seed Tiago Splitter 77.3% to 22.7% after making an incredible run through the first three rounds of elimination. Splitter didn’t spend a very long time as a player in the NBA, but he was the starting five during the Beautiful Basketball era and fit in greatly during that stretch.
Next up, we’ll vote on the Final Four before crowning our champion!