San Antonio’s four championships — three with the main core — can be considered a dynasty, but with no repeat titles and no rings in the last six years, the reality of such an honor is unlikely.
The San Antonio Spurs have consistently remained among the elite teams in the NBA over the last decade. Currently boasting the best record in the league, they are on their way to replicating that reputation this season.
There have been four faces stapled to the core of the Spurs identity for the past 11 seasons. Names we associate with strictly the black and white of San Antonio are Coach Gregg Popovich, and the big three of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.
During these past 11 seasons, with these key figures, the Spurs have notched at least 50 wins in each season, even in the shortened 66-game season of 2011-12. They have held an overall record of 604-247, which translates to a winning percentage of 70.98 percent. In this span they made the playoffs in every season, won seven division titles, and three NBA championships.
Some are quick to label this Spurs team a dynasty. Especially given that in this day and age, players have a tendency to either jump from team to team in search of more lucrative contracts; or they desire to suit up for a more commercial and attractive city; or they want to play on a team with other pieces in place that on paper, heightens the chances of a championship ring. All these are points that make it nearly impossible for a team to stay intact long enough to create a dynasty.
On the other hand, dynasty is a strong term that usually involves a team winning consecutive championships. Although these Spurs have won three rings in the last 10 seasons, they have yet to string together at least a repeat, which brings a recall of the dynasty label, since there is no clear domination over a one-season span.
The San Antonio Spurs have won four championships since 1999. A look at their championship seasons:
1999: Regular season record of 37-13, playoff record of 15-2 (defeated New York Knicks in NBA finals, four games to one) *Lockout-shortened season
2003: Regular season record of 60-22, playoff record of 16-8 (defeated New Jersey Nets in NBA Finals, four games to two)
2005: Regular season record of 59-23, playoff record of 16-7 (defeated Detroit Pistons in NBA Finals, four games to three)
2007: Regular season record of 58-24, playoff record of 16-4 (defeated Cleveland Cavaliers in NBA Finals, four games to none)
The difference of opinion will persist unless perhaps, these Spurs can finish this season just as impressively as they have started and win yet another championship. Ginobili is an unrestricted free agent after the 2013 season, then Tim Duncan follows suit, becoming an unrestricted free agent after the 2014 season.
The team’s puzzle pieces are slowly disconnecting while aging continues to grow as a factor. Ginobili is in his 11th season, Parker in his 12th, and Duncan in his 16th. The last time a trio with that amount of NBA experience won a championship was the Boston Celtics in 2007-08 when Paul Pierce was in his 10th season and Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett were both in their 13th seasons. That granted, it seems another championship is within reach.
With that said, what happens if the San Antonio Spurs fail to win an NBA championship this season? Their chances to win it all the following season would only seem less likely. Would this ultimately mark the end of a dynasty or simply the end of a great run by a great team?
What takes away from the Spurs being labeled, or eventually remembered, as a dynasty is the fact that one of their last four rings came in the lockout-shortened season in which only 50 games were played (1998-99). Plus, that team did not have Parker or Ginobili on the roster. Although, in the books it counts just the same, NBA fans often look back and discount it.
When we think of dynasties we reminisce of the amazingness of Michael Jordan and the great supporting cast of the Bulls in the ‘90s. We remember the Showtime Lakers in Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy and slick-haired Coach Pat Riley. Those were dominant teams that brought out an unmatched level of athleticism, excitement and entertainment for their respective cities and the NBA. These teams elevated the game and arguably made it what it has become now.
The Spurs unfortunately are on the short end of these historical facts and memories. One can possibly say they are on the cusp of that elite class of being considered a dynasty; but that point can and will always be argued. Everyone will remember these Spurs, but no one will remember them as a dynasty, unless they add to their resume.