Fans will never forget Boris Diaw’s time with the San Antonio Spurs. He was part of the 2014 championship run that dethroned the LeBron James-led Miami Heat and gave the Spurs their fifth franchise title. He's also one of the most interesting players ever, from clearing the vertical jump rack to refusing to shoot as a form of protest, he truly is one of a kind.
Drafted by the Atlanta Hawks back in 2003, Diaw struggled to find his rhythm during his rookie and sophomore seasons. He finished his first two seasons with averages of 4.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 43.5% from the field and 19.7% from 3-point range.
Getting traded to the Phoenix Suns would probably be the best thing to happen to him, as he would go on to win the Most Improved Player award in 2006. Throughout his stint in Phoenix, he would become an important piece to their deep playoff runs.
In December of 2008, Diaw was traded to the Charlotte Bobcats. During his four-year run with them, he would start to get too comfortable and gain weight. After getting waived by the Bobcats in March of 2012, the Spurs immediately signed him for the rest of the season.
Diaw’s run with the San Antonio Spurs
Looking to add depth to their frontcourt, the Spurs re-signed the French man before the start of the 2012-13 NBA season. This proved to be a good move as they were able to make a deep playoff run to the NBA Finals and give the reigning champions, the Miami Heat, a run for their money. The Spurs ended that season with a Game 7 loss against the Heat, who won their second title in a row.
Diaw and the Spurs looked to avenge their defeat with an impressive 2013-14 run. With more minutes compared to the previous season, Diaw was able to make a huge impact. In fact, he went from averaging 4.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game to 9.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.4 assists on 50% shooting from the field and 40% from three. The journeyman’s team style of play became incredibly important for the Spurs.
Reaching the Finals once again, they were faced with a familiar foe, the Miami Heat. San Antonio continued to play their team style of play, trusting everyone. Diaw went on to play exceptionally, leading the team in assists with 5.8 and being second to Tim Duncan in rebounds with 8.6. They finished the series in five games, winning their fifth title and ending the "Heatles" dynasty.
It doesn’t show a lot in the box score, but his value with the Spurs went a long way. From using his doughy physique to stop opponents on defense to dishing flashy passes to his teammates, he became one of the standards of the modern point-forwards.
While other teams convinced superstars to join their squads, the Spurs went a different route --sticking to the players they had and trusting them to play the right way. Diaw may not have led the Spurs, but his role was one of the biggest keys to their success.