This past year the Spurs set a whole slew of records. They are primed to extend some and to pass new milestones in the upcoming season. Here are some of them.
Gregg Popovich will win his 1000th game (much to his delight)
Extraneous G needs just 33 wins to collect his 1000th regular-season victory. With the schedule yet to be released, I'm making a guess that it will come on January 23, 2015. He will become the ninth coach to reach the 1000-win milestone, and he will be the first to do it coaching for just one franchise. To illustrate just how remarkable that is, there is only one coach who spent his career with one team and won more than 500 games. That would be Al Attles of the 1970-1982 Warriors. Al won 557 games during his tenure. Here are the active coaches next up on the all-time wins list:
Doc Rivers - 644 wins
Flip Saunders - 638 wins
Rick Carlisle - 569 wins
Stan Van Gundy - 371
And here are the active coaches who have coached just one team:
Erik Spoelstra - 314 wins
Scott Brooks - 293 wins
Tom Thibodeau - 205 wins
Frank Vogel - 167 wins
The Spurs' sustained success in the Tim Duncan/Gregg Popovich Era
We've already covered the fact that the Spurs' 15-year run of consecutive 50-win seasons is the longest that the NBA has ever seen. I started wondering how that run stacked up against other great teams in different sports. In the four major American sports, the only other team that attained a similar winning percentage every year for more than 15 seasons is the 1983-1998 San Francisco 49ers. They won at least 10 games in the NFL (.625 win rate) each year for 16 years.
Should the Spurs finish the 2014-2015 season with at least 50 wins, that will tie them with the 16-straight seasons that the Niners have, but really the Spurs already have a longer run going. The 1999 NBA season was shortened by a lockout and the Spurs went 37-13. Winning 74% of the games in an 82 game season translates to a 60 or 61 win season. In 2014-2015 San Antonio will try to win at least 61% of their regular season games for an unprecedented 18th straight time.
During the 2000s, the Spurs won more games than any other team has in any other decade. So while they can't break that one anytime soon, they are leading the 2010s and could very well open up the gap just a little bit with what is probably the Spurs' all-time best continuity, corporate knowledge and chemistry roster. From 2010-2014 the Spurs have racked up 281 wins and are trailed by the Heat and Thunder's 271 each.
The Spurs are currently tied with the 1977-1993 Los Angeles Lakers for the third-longest streak of making the playoffs with 17 seasons each. Should the Spurs secure their playoff spot sometime in the spring of 2015, it will be 18 straight seasons and they will trail only the 1984-2003 Utah Jazz (20 seasons) and the 1983-2003 Portland Trail Blazers (21 seasons) for the longest streak. The Spurs will break the record if they reach the playoffs each season through 2018-2019. That's a ways off, but it doesn't seem impossible at this point.
Who has the longest active streak behind the Spurs? The Atlanta Hawks -- who are looking to become Spurs East with Mike Budenholzer and Danny Ferry leading the way -- reached the playoffs for the seventh-straight time in 2014.
It's a historically great run, and with Popovich signing a contract extension as well as Tim Duncan's past comments about wanting to play "until the wheels fall off," or "as long as I can contribute," and finally saying after the Finals that "'I'm honored to be on this team right now because [Kawhi Leonard is] going to be great for years to come, and I'm going to hold on as long as I can." There is reason to believe that there could be several more seasons of the Pop/Timmy Era. We know we get at least one more and that's good enough for now.
Once upon a time Gregg Popovich didn't have a team that was so deep, and he couldn't get away with resting his young stud during the regular season -- as he did this past year with Kawhi Leonard (just 29.1 minutes per). Pop called on Timmy to give him 39.3 minutes per game over the first six years of Duncan's career before limiting the big man's court time starting in 2003-2004 (36.6 that season and fewer every year since.) Even with over a decade of minute-management from Pop, this past season the big man worked his way into the Top 20 in all-time minutes played in the NBA/ABA combined with 43,605. Next season he is likely to pass Oscar Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Julius Erving on the list and he needs just 2,100 to pass Robert Parish, who is currently in the 14th spot.
Duncan needs 709 points to pass Alex English for 18th on the all-time scoring list. Paul Pierce has scored 127 more points than Duncan in his career, but Big Fun could very well leapfrog him this season and move into the 18th spot by the end of the season.
Duncan needs 525 rebounds to pass Nate Thurmond for ninth on the all-time rebounding list. That would put him in the Top 10 no matter how many rebounds Kevin Garnett, who has 261 more than Duncan, grabs. If Duncan and Garnett put up the similar totals to last season, he will also pass Garnett for the ninth spot.
TD needs 104 blocks to pass Patrick Ewing and move into the seventh spot. It's a long-shot this next season, but the great David Robinson is just 163 blocks ahead of Timmy.
Of course it's been true since last year, but if the Spurs and Duncan can repeat as champions and Tim Duncan is named Finals MVP, he will overtake Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the player who received the award the longest time after they received their first. Kareem did it with the 1971 Bucks and the 1985 Lakers.
Miscellaneous Franchise Records
If the Spurs beat the Portland Trail Blazers during the first matchup of the season, or if they win the regular season series, the Spurs will become the only team with a winning regular-season record against every other team in the league.
In the event that the Spurs make the playoffs and the Lakers do not, San Antonio will move into a tie with the Lakers for the most playoff appearances by a franchise since the NBA/ABA merger.
There you have it Spurs fans, even more to look forward to. As if a chance to watch them defend the title wasn't enough. We're a lucky bunch.