When you talk about the great NBA dynasties, you usually think of the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Chicago Bulls. But you might forget that the San Antonio Spurs also had a run of championships in the late 1990s and early 2000s that warrants consideration as well.
Even before that, the Spurs produced several star players whose names echo through NBA history. Names like George Gervin, Tim Duncan, and “The Admiral” David Robinson have all donned that Spurs uniform. Victor Wembanyama certainly has the hype, but he’s got a long way to go to find himself in that kind of company.
Here is our list of the greatest San Antonio Spurs of all time.
10. Robert Horry, power forward
Although Robert Horry played for four NBA teams throughout his career, he spent his final five seasons with the Spurs and was a key cog in two of their NBA championships. “Big Shot Rob” confirmed his well-earned nickname with San Antonio, putting up some playoff performances that earned comparisons to some of the most iconic in history. Altogether, Horry won seven NBA titles in his NBA career and is still widely considered one of the greatest clutch performers and winners in league history.
9. Bruce Bowen, small forward
When Bruce Bowen played for the Spurs, he was known more for his defensive play than his scoring. But he could certainly score when needed. Bowen was a five-time All-Defensive First-Teamer, three-time All-Defensive-Team Second-Teamer, three-time NBA champion, and had his number retired by the team. While he is remembered as one of the best perimeter “lockdown” defenders in NBA history, he also battled accusations of “dirty” play. The NBA’s “Iron Man” played in 500 consecutive games between 2002 and 2008.
8. Avery Johnson, point guard
The 16-year NBA veteran had two stints with the San Antonio Spurs and he certainly made the most of them. The Southern University player was considered one of the top point guards in the country, but he wasn’t selected in the NBA Draft. However, he made teams regret that by the time he rejoined the Spurs in 1994. From 1994 until 2001, he helped lead the Spurs as they built the franchise up around David Robinson, culminating in their first NBA title in 1999. Johnson hit the game-winning shot against the New York Knicks to clinch the championship. A member of the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame, Johnson would end his NBA career with nearly 9,000 points and 6,000 assists.
7. Sean Elliott, small forward
When Sean Elliott was drafted by the Spurs out of the University of Arizona in 1989, the hope was that he would be one of the building blocks of an eventual NBA championship. That’s exactly what happened. Elliott spent 11 of 12 years in the NBA with the Spurs and he would eventually help them win the 1999 NBA Title. Along the way, he was a two-time NBA All-Star and became a core component of the dominant Spurs teams of the late 1990s. Elliot finished his pro career averaging 14.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game and remains fifth in franchise history in three-point field goals made (563). His jersey number was retired by San Antonio in 2005.
6. Kawhi Leonard, small forward
While Kawhi Leonard has become well-known for leading the Toronto Raptors to the 2019 NBA Title and as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, he spent the first seven seasons of his career with the San Antonio Spurs. He was a key member of the 2014 NBA Champion team, averaging nearly 18 points per game and shooting 61 percent from the field in the NBA Finals en route to earning the Finals MVP. While with the Spurs, Leonard was a three-time All-Defensive Team First-Teamer, two-team All-NBA First Teamer, and two-time NBA All-Star. He was also the NBA steals leader in 2015. Things didn’t end well in San Antonio but what he accomplished there remains very impressive.
5. Manu Ginóbili, shooting guard
Manu Ginóbili was a legend before he even entered the NBA. He led Argentina to a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics, stunning the U.S. He joined the Spurs in 2004 and, after an adjustment period, turned into a cornerstone of the franchise and cemented himself as one of the best shooters in league history. A four-time NBA champion, Ginóbili spent his entire 16-year NBA career in San Antonio where he, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker became known as the “Big Three.” A two-time NBA All-Star and Sixth Man of the Year in 2008, he remained one of the most clutch shooters in the NBA for his entire career. He retired after scoring 14,043 career points and the Spurs retired his number soon afterward.
4. Tony Parker, shooting guard
Tony Parker was another international basketball star who made a huge impact on the Spurs. Parker played for the French national team and. in 2013, was named Eurobasketball MVP. The point guard spent 17 seasons with San Antonio and became one of the best players in the NBA during that time. Parker was named to six NBA All-Star games, three All-NBA Second Teams, one All-NBA Third Team, and was named 2007 NBA Finals MVP. Considered one of the greatest European players of all time, his number was retired by the Spurs and he was recently inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Parker would end his NBA career with 19,473 points (15.5 ppg) and 7,036 assists (5.6 apg).
3. David Robinson, center
When the Spurs drafted David Robinson out of the Naval Academy, the hope was that he might be the centerpiece of an eventual NBA championship. While he did indeed help them win the 1999 NBA Title, he would end up being part of two championships. The 1990 NBA Rookie of the Year immediately became a force in the league thanks to his 7’1″ frame. The Admiral would go on to become a 10-time NBA All-Star, the 1995 NBA MVP, a two-time NBA champion, and a two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner (1992, 1996). Named to both the NBA’s 50th and 75th-anniversary teams, he is still considered one of the best centers in NBA history. Along with having his number retired by the Spurs, he is a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, and FIBA Hall of Fame.
2. George Gervin, shooting guard
The great George Gervin spent the majority of his ABA/NBA career with the San Antonio Spurs. Unlike many of the other names on this list, he never won an NBA Title with the franchise, but you could make the case he was the superstar who set the tone for what the Spurs would eventually become. “The Iceman” was a nine-time All-Star who averaged 26 points over the course of his impressive NBA career. The four-time NBA scoring champion and five-time All-NBA First Teamer was named to the NBA’s 50th and 75th-anniversary teams. He’s also a member of the ABA’s All-Time Team. Gervin is a member of both the College Basketball Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
1. Tim Duncan, center
While there are several big men and superstars on this list, it’s hard to argue with Tim Duncan taking the top spot. While David Robinson was the cornerstone of the Spurs franchise in the 1990s, it wasn’t until Duncan showed up that they started their dynasty, winning five NBA titles between 1999 and 2014. Known as the “Big Fundamental.,” Duncan had an immediate impact as NBA Rookie of the Year in 1998 and didn’t let up. The 15-time All-Star and two-time NBA MVP is also a three-time NBA Finals MVP, putting him in company with Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Michael Jordan. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020 and named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.