When I joined Pounding The Rock, I pitched a project that would cover every player who ever wore a Spurs jersey. Not equally, by any means, but each jersey would be identified numerically by the players who wore it.
There is a significance to the numbers of jerseys as it pertains to the five NBA Championships that have been won by the San Antonio Spurs.
There is only one jersey number associated with all five San Antonio Spurs NBA Championships- #21. Tim Duncan. He is coincidentally also the only player to be involved in all five titles.
There are five numbers associated with four Spurs titles. #9 (Tony Parker) and #20 Manu Ginobili, as well as #2 (Jaren Jackson-1999, Nazr Mohammed- 2005, Melvin Ely- 2007, and Kawhi Leonard- 2014), #4 (Steve Kerr- 1999, Sean Marks- 2005, Michael Finley- 2007, and Danny Green- 2014), and #11 (Brandon Williams- 1999, Mike Wilks- 2005, Jacque Vaughn- 2007, Jeff Ayers- 2014).
The next set of jersey numbers are those associated with three of the Spurs NBA titles.
Those numbers are 3, 5, 8, 12, 17, and 33.
No one wore #3 in the Spurs inaugural 1999 NBA Championship. Stephen Jackson wore it when he helped the Spurs beat the New Jersey Nets in 2003. Glenn Robinson wore it in 2005 as the Spurs hoisted their 2005 Larry O’Brien trophy. And then there was silence.
For a brief period, George Hill shined as #3. But as we all know, his Spurs career was sacrificed for the greater good. Hill’s exit in 2011 brought two players, Kawhi Leonard and Davis Bertans, on board who would be involved with the Spurs next Championship in 2014. And along with that team, Marco Belinelli wore #3.
Already a formidable player in his home country (for he had won an Italian League Championship as well as been named the Italian Supercup MVP in 2005), Marco Belinelli was drafted eighteenth overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors where he played two season before being traded to the Toronto Raptors for Devean George.
He played one season in Canada before another trade sent him to New Orleans in exchange for Julian Wright where he played two season with the Hornets. After his contract ran out, Marco moved on to the Chicago Bulls where he was developing a reputation as a clutch player.
At the end of the 2012-2013 season, Belinelli signed with the San Antonio Spurs in hopes of helping them return to the NBA Finals. That season would be Marco’s best for rebounds, assists, and three-point shooting percentage. The last of these also earned him a trip to the NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans to compete in the Three-Point Contest.
Belinelli had a visceral connection with Manu Ginobili that played out in some of the most impressive second unit basketball in the NBA. Sprinkle in Patty Mills and Boris Diaw and the Spurs looked unstoppable.
On Father’s Day of 2014, Marco Belinelli became the first Italian-born basketball player to win an NBA Championship.
After the 2014-2015 season, Marco again hit the road, first to Sacramento for a year and then on to Charlotte for one season after a trade for draft rights to Malachi Richardson.
A subsequent summer multi-player trade sent Belinelli to Atlanta where he played with the Hawks until being waived in February 2018. He was then picked up by the Philadelphia 76ers who used his sharpshooting off the bench behind JJ Redick to make a run into the postseason. After the 76ers plans were squashed by the Boston Celtics in the Easter Conference Semifinals, Marco returned to San Antonio.
Upon his second stint with the Silver & Black, Marco opted out of #3 and has since worn #18, but he continues the three-ball sharpshooting.
But no one will forget his sweetest number in San Antonio, #3, and his contributions to the Spurs that led to him being the third Spurs player to win a ring wearing it.
NEXT UP: The rest of the players to wear #3.
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