In a summer that's seen the biggest box office flop ever (I'm guessing someone must have seen it) and the most expensive transfer in the history of soccer (I'm guessing at least one of you must care), it's appropriate that today's SBNation theme centers around the topic of hype. It's time for another SBNation-NBA group discussion topic. Today all the NBA blogs across our network are tackling the same subject: the most hyped player in franchise history. Be sure to click around the network to see the responses from writers and fans of each team.
"Hype" isn't a word often associated with the Spurs--"buildup", sure; "anticipation", perhaps; and there may have even been one member of the franchise who once "ballyhooed" by mistake. But hype? Even for an organization firmly planted in the age of Twitter (note to Tweeters: this theme day is called #NBAMostHyped), "hype" continues to elude the San Antonio Spurs franchise--or is it the other way around?
In San Antonio, there has never been any "not one, not two, not three" talk - in fact, many players arrive with a rudimentary understanding of English at best - and any draft day hype is often tempered by the picks spending their early years in Europe or completing military service.
Of course, the absence of the hype machine is almost always a good thing. As an 8th grader who was once placed in a flag football league for 7th graders, I know what it's like to arrive with a substantial amount of hoopla. The extra attention and lofty expectations can be overwhelming, even for an undersized (but scrappy) 13-year-old.
Whether by design or not, the Spurs organization has embraced their relative anonymity. Still, every now and then in the team's history, there have been acquisitions - either through the draft, trades or free agency - that have been met with elevated expectations, with the press clippings to prove it. Here's a look at the most hyped Spurs players through the years:
1987, David Robinson
Anyone who pre-ordered Halo 4 knows the only thing more painful than something hyped up not panning out is having to wait for its imminent arrival. After being drafted from the Naval Academy in ‘87, Robinson spent two years completing his military service before finally
joining breathing life into the Spurs in 1989.
1993, Dennis Rodman
Rodman was already 32 when he joined the 93-94 Spurs (a team poised to make a championship push), but he was still the best rebounder in the game. In return, San Antonio gave up All-Star Sean Elliott (not to mention a bit of their identity) when they brought the controversial Rodman to S.A.
1997, Tim Duncan
A decade after drafting Robinson, the Spurs found themselves once again in the right place and at the right time: in possession of the number one pick heading into a draft boasting a can't-miss big man talent. Instead of explaining why Timmy is listed here, I'll just explain my reasons for him not being considered the most hyped:
1) The Spurs hadn't yet won a title and fans weren't as spoiled as we are now
2) The team was only coming off one aberration of a bad season
3) 1997's relative lack of coverage and social media
4) Duncan's goofy profile picture and childlike spinning in his chair in his draft night interview
Just watch this classic moment, dry the nostalgia from your eyes, and read on.
2005: Michael Finley
The Spurs aren't known for their extravagance in free agency, but in 2005 they came up winners in the Michael Finley Sweepstakes, beating out - among other teams - the Phoenix Suns. SA had just won the championship that year, but was still looking to bolster its shooting. Finley passed up more money from Miami and Phoenix to sign with the Spurs - partly because he saw San Antonio as his best chance at his first championship and also because he would still be receiving every cent of the $52 million Mark Cuban owed him.
The Finley signing proved fruitful for San Antonio, as the veteran hit his share of big shots through five productive seasons and was an important part of the 2007 title-winning team.
2010, James Anderson
Anderson came in as the highest player the Spurs had drafted since Tim Duncan--really, though, he was only drafted a few spots earlier than other picks before him and didn't represent a significant leap in talent. There were hopes that he could come in and fill the need for another bench scorer but injury and weak handles prevented him from ever solidifying himself in the rotation.
2009, Richard Jefferson
It should be noted, first off, that there wasn't all that much hype with the Richard Jefferson move. At least, not on any O'Nealian or Decisionite levels. Yet, Richard Jefferson goes down as the most hyped Spurs player because, a) it was an extremely bold move by a team that had religiously abstained from them; b) because it was an acquisition that would seemingly push them back into the championship picture; and c) because it was PATFO's first attempt to actively address the team's aging core.
Jefferson arrived purely as a complementary player, albeit one that would hopefully not only keep the Spurs among the league's elite for years to come but also help the club transition into a new, post-Big Three era.The move also represented the team's admission that a stable of role players alongside the Big Three wasn't going to cut it. To acquire the 29-year-old Jefferson, San Antonio traded away Fabricio Oberto, Bruce Bowen and Kurt Thomas, who were a combined age of 109.
RJ was the most talented and complete player to ever join Manu, Tony and Tim and it was believed that his combination of athleticism and scoring ability was just what the Spurs needed to match up against younger teams.
To Jefferson's credit, he was coming off a great year in Milwaukee, with averages of 19.6 ppg and 4.6 rpg. Also, he was always a standup guy and classy teammate during his time in San Antonio. He also opted out of the final year and $15.2 million of his contract to make the team's salary cap more manageable (albeit for a few more years of job security for himself).
Unfortunately, the hype that preceded Jefferson's arrival, as well as the cap hold that he represented, resulted in many fans' souring on the player and blaming him for the team's lack of success during his tenure. As fans' (and Pop's) patience began to wear thin, stories like this one became more and more common, until the team ultimately parted ways with RJ... by trading for Stephen Jackson and moving Kawhi Leonard into the starting lineup.
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Well, that's my take on it. Have any thoughts? Comment below on who you think is the most hyped Spur of all time. Now if you'll excuse me, it's back to counting down to Grand Theft Auto Five.
More from Pounding The Rock:
- Southwest Division Review: Memphis Grizzlies
- Dave Telep and the Spurs's reaction to "the AAU culture"
- J.R. Wilco talks Kawhi Leonard and Bruce Bowen on the Phil Naessens Show
- Spurs prepare for the future while rebuilding from recent front office and coaching losses
- Pathology of the Spurs - Part II: from Mr. Robinson to The Grouch