Before the San Antonio Spurs became what they are, the team started out as the Dallas Chaparrals in 1967 as part of the American Basketball Association. Cliff Hagan came out of his one-year retirement to become a player-coach for the Chaparrals. The Chaparrals ended the season 46-32, but this was only the start to some pretty incredible basketball history.
The Birth of the Spurs
As a result of a few bad seasons, interchangeable coaches, and a loss of public interest, businessmen from San Antonio purchased the Chaparrals, bringing San Antonio a franchise basketball team in 1973 known as The San Antonio Spurs. Tom Nissalke, former Chaparrals head coach and NBA Seattle SuperSonics head coach, came back to the team for a fresh start. The Spurs had a slow start up until Nissalke acquired 6-foot-11-inch Swen Nater in November 1973. The Spurs went from playing in front of 1,799 people to 10,146 fans in just one month. However, the Spurs didn’t stop there. They continued to build their dream team by acquiring George “The Iceman” Gervin in January that same year. The Spurs went on to win 12 of 18 games and reached third place with a 45-39 season record.
In the 1974-75 season, the Spurs added Donnie Freeman, who played for the Chaparrals a few years prior. San Antonio had a solid group of guys, with third-year guard James “Snake” Silas, sixth-year forward Rich Jones, Swen Nater, Donnie Freeman, and George Gervin, who all averaged 15-19 points per game.
Even though the Spurs were off to a great season, Nissalke was fired. Bob Bass took over as the head coach. Bass wouldn’t be the head coach for too long, though, as the Spurs stepped foot into the National Basketball Association the next season. Doug Moe took Bass’s place as head coach in 1976; however, the team stayed the same. The Spurs played their first-ever NBA game Oct. 22, 1976, against the Philadelphia 76ers. Despite playing in front of 17,196 Sixers fans, the Spurs came home with a victorious 121-118 win. The Spurs – with a 44-38 game record – came away from their first year in the NBA as the sixth best team in the league.
The next six seasons between 1976 and 1982 would be the era of George “The Iceman” Gervin. During those years, the Spurs reached a franchise record high of 52-30 in 1978 and 1981. In the 1979-80 season, Gervin was averaging 33.1 points per game. Although 1980 was a great year for Gervin, one man can’t carry an entire team. The team ended the season with a 41-41 record.
The Spurs went on to be mediocre in the ’80s with spurts of good years here and there, until the 1989-90 season when they finished with a record of 56-26 with the help of rookie David Robinson. This was a huge improvement by the Spurs and head coach Larry Brown given that the previous season’s record was 21-61.
In the 1990s, the Spurs had five head coaches – the continuance of Larry Brown, Jerry Tarkanian, John Lucas, Bob Hill, and current head coach Gregg Popovich. The Spurs’ incredible season in 1989-90 was topped by the 1994-95 season when the San Antonio Spurs finished with a 62-20 season record under head coach Bob Hill. Center David Robinson was the No. 1 player that year, averaging 27.6 points per game.
The Beginning of Dominance
Who are the Spurs today? Now, they’re one of the top teams in the league and have millions of fans, some of which have never lived in San Antonio. The 2000s brought magical seasons for Spurs fans as the team became consistently good under head coach Gregg Popovich. The 2002-03 season was one of the best, as they won their first title with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker.
However, their best season occurred during the 2015-16 season. The Spurs finished with a 67-15 record and second in the NBA Western Conference with the help of Kawhi Leonard, who averaged 21.2 points per game.
We’ve touched base on a few pretty historic seasons – including the 1994-95 season under Bob Hill, the 1989-90 season under Larry Brown, the 2002-03 season, and the 2015-16 season – all of which have made the Spurs one of the most polarizing teams in the country. Now it’s time to take a look at the most iconic Spurs jerseys throughout the years.
The Evolution of the Spurs Jersey
1973-1977: During the Spurs’ first year in the NBA, the home jersey was almost identical to what it is today just a different color. Back then, Mike D’Antoni balled out in a silver jersey with “Spurs” spelled out and a spur replacing the “u.”
1976-1977: On the road, the team decked out in black, with “San Antonio” spelled out instead of “Spurs.” The team stuck with that concept until 1989.
1989-2002: If you were at an away game, you’d see David Robinson wearing a jersey almost identical to their home jersey, with “Spurs” written across the chest instead of “San Antonio.”
2012-2017: Since 2012, the jerseys have pretty much stayed the same, except for the addition of a silver jersey jersey with the player’s numbers and a spur to the side and below.
There have been teams that have gone through pretty drastic jersey changes, but San Antonio is not one of them. We suppose the Texas saying rings true in this instance – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Headed to a Spurs game this season? Before you go, make sure to snag your jersey over at Fanatics.com, so that you can rep your team in style!