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Spurs named second-best sports franchise

San Antonio is the only franchise to rank in the Top 10 every year since ESPN introduced its Annual Survey in 2003.

Stephen Dunn

This is from a recent Spurs press release. The optimists among us will no doubt tout the high-profile mention from ESPN The Magazine, and the fact that the Spurs seemingly have a top 10 finish on this list locked up in perpetuity. The pessimists ... well, I'll make you wait until the end of this post to know what the pessimists are thinking.

SAN ANTONIO (September 23, 2013) - The San Antonio Spurs were named the second-best franchise in ESPN The Magazine's 11th annual Ultimate Standings survey. San Antonio is the only franchise to rank in the Top 10 every year since ESPN introduced its annual survey in 2003.

ESPN The Magazine's Ultimate Standings survey rates all 122 teams from the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball in order, based on a weighted average of scores in eight areas ranging from the quantitative to the emotionally subjective: fan relations (25.2%), affordability (17.4%), "bang for the buck" (16.8%), stadium experience (12.4%), players (11.3%), ownership (10.2%), title track (3.6%), and coaching (3.1%). The rankings factor in feedback in 25 categories from more than 60,000 fans nationwide, as well as teams' efficiency in generating on-field performance from fan dollars.

The Memphis Grizzlies took the top franchise honor in ESPN The Magazine's Ultimate Standings while the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder placed third and fourth, respectively. NBA franchises comprised four out of the top 5 teams.

The Spurs ranked first overall in four categories that were part of the judging process to determine the best overall sports franchise: ownership (honesty and loyalty to core players and to the community), coaching (strength of on-field leadership), fan relations (courtesy of players, coaches and front offices toward fans and how well a team uses technology to reach them) and players (effort on the field, likability off it).

The Spurs reached the NBA Finals last season and over the last 16 years, the Silver and Black have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success. Since Tim Duncan joined the team in 1997-98, the Spurs have captured four NBA Championships and have posted the best regular season winning percentage (.703, 888-376) of any team in the four major sports (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL). During that time San Antonio has posted the NBA's best record four times (1998-99, 2000-01, 2002-03 and 2011-12) and has won 10 division titles. The Spurs record during that span ranks as the best 16-year run of any team in NBA history. Since the 2000-01 season, San Antonio has posted 50-or-more wins in 14 consecutive seasons, the longest such streak in NBA history.

The Ultimate Standings survey debuted in 2003 with the Spurs ranked third overall with the Green Bay Packers placing first and the Arizona Diamondbacks second. In 2004, the Spurs garnered their first title ranking from ESPN, followed by the Dallas Mavericks in second place and the Green Bay Packers third. In 2005, the Spurs ranked second overall behind the Detroit Pistons, and ahead of the third ranked Indianapolis Colts. In 2006, a year after their third NBA Title, the Spurs were voted to the top of the list again with the Detroit Pistons second and Pittsburgh Steelers third. The Spurs finished second behind the Buffalo Sabers and above the Dallas Mavericks in 2007. The following year, the Spurs were ranked second overall behind the Indianapolis Colts. In 2009, San Antonio ranked ninth overall and seventh overall in 2010. In 2011, the Silver and Black ranked fifth overall and placed third in last year's survey.

The pessimists are mentally flagellating themselves with the idea that, for the 2nd time in the last four months, the Spurs came in second place.