A little perspective on the “Tim Duncan Era” Spurs

(Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE)

The Spurs have once again made it to the Western Conference Finals. In other news, water is wet. Really, it’s astonishing what the Spurs have been able to accomplish all these years, so I wanted to try to put it in some perspective. All stats/facts will be in regards to the “Duncan Era,” from the time Tim Duncan was drafted (1997) until the present.

In the Tim Duncan Era, the Spurs have yet to miss the postseason. That is seventeen straight years, so you could have been born during Duncan’s first season and be legally driving an automobile in any state in the U.S.

The last time the Spurs missed the postseason, 1997

  • Bill Clinton was starting his second term as U.S. President
  • OJ Simpson was found liable in a wrongful death suit
  • The average cost of gas in the U.S. for the year was $1.245/gallon
  • The Florida Marlins won the World Series, and 22 year old Livan Hernandez was series MVP
  • The Titanic debuted in theaters
  • Harry Potter was published in the UK
  • Hong Kong was returned to China
  • Princess Diana was killed in a car accident
  • Spurs Guard Tony Parker was 15 years old, and Forward Kawhi Leonard was 6

In the Duncan Era, leading into this Western Conference Finals, the Spurs have a postseason record of 141-87, good for a .618 winning percentage, tops in the NBA over that span. The Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics, who have each won a championship and have been to the Finals twice over the same period, have won 140 postseason games, COMBINED. Additionally, the Spurs 141 wins are more than the postseason wins of Charlotte, Washington, Toronto, Golden State, Minnesota, Milwaukee, Memphis, and Denver COMBINED.

The Spurs postseason winning percentage in comparison to other notable eras since 1983 (as far back as realgm data goes):

  • 1986-1992 Detroit Pistons-Bad Boy era- .663% 2 championships
  • 1984-1998 Chicago Bulls- Jordan era : .661% 6 championships
  • 1996-2004 LA Lakers-Shaq/Kobe era: .639% 3 championships
  • 1997-Pres San Antonio Spurs-Duncan era- .618% 4 championships (obviously will change until conclusion of 2014 post season)
  • 2007-2010 Boston Celtics- Big 3 era- .576% 1 championship
  • 1992-1999 Houston Rockets- Hakeem/Rudy T era- .567% 2 championships

Bear in mind the difficulty of maintaining such a high level of production over 17 seasons, factoring age, injury, free agency, etc.

Postseason numbers courtesy of http://basketball.realgm.com/nba/playoffs/history/1998

The Spurs have employed one head coach during the Duncan Era, Greg Popovich. A look at how many coaches each team has employed or will soon employ during the Duncan Era, either on a full time or interim basis:


*Team employed the same coach on more than one separate occasion

The Spurs await the winner of the Thunder vs. Clippers series, and they just may go on to win another NBA Championship. Win or lose this conference or league finals, sooner or later the reality will sink in that this just can’t go on forever. The run that the Spurs are continuing is nothing short of remarkable, in the age of big free agent contracts and the formation of super teams, it’s the small market Spurs who have been the model franchise for nearly a span of two decades. We may not see anything like it again, or maybe we will. Either way it’s something to cherish and marvel at, because it simply defies logic.

Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images


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