Wednesday's loss to the New Orleans Pelicans marked the third straight season the San Antonio Spurs have missed the playoffs. It's the longest such streak since their inception in 1967 and a rude awakening that the glory days are in the past until they can make some moves to get back.
The Spurs' unimaginable 22-year playoff run ended in the 2019-20 season, when they finished with just 32 wins. They increased that win total by just one per season over the next two years, and they'll certainly have to improve to buck that trend.
While San Antonio's dominant years are in the past (for now), another premier NBA franchise is facing a similarly uncertain future. On Friday night, The Athletic's Twitter account pointed out that the 2022 NBA Playoffs will be the first one not to feature either the Los Angeles Lakers or San Antonio Spurs since the NBA/ABA merger in 1976.
That's an unbelievable 46-year streak. Over that span, here's how those playoff appearance break down.
The Spurs and Lakers rarely have had losing seasons
In the 46 years since they've been in the NBA, the Spurs have made the playoffs in all but seven seasons. The years they didn't make it were 1984, 1987, 1989, 1997, 2020, 2021, and 2022.
Meanwhile, the Lakers have missed the postseason nine times in that span: 1994, 2005, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2022.
Largely responsible for those dominant runs are players like David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker for San Antonio. Of course, Gregg Popovich was the head of the snake for 22 of those 39 playoff appearances. In total, the Spurs have had eight different coaches at the helm for at least one full season and five who spent interim time as head coach.
The Lakers had all-time greats of their own like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal to keep them as perennial contenders throughout this span. They had 13 different full-time coaches and another seven who led for partial seasons.
It's safe to say times have finally changed, at least temporarily. While the Lakers kept the streak alive the past two seasons, I'm not sure they'll be able to make it back to the playoffs next season without drastic changes. Unfortunately for them, they don't really have the resources for such a thing.
The Spurs, on the other hand, have a wealth of assets to work with immediately, but a playoff spot still isn't a given if they don't execute well this summer.
As it stands, San Antonio is still easily the winningest franchise in terms of win percentage with 60.1 while the Lakers sit in second with 58.7.