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. Today we look at #5.
Billy Paultz was the first of the San Antonio Spurs to wear #5. Already an ABA Champion with the New York Nets, The Whopper made an impact with the Spurs averaging 14 points per game during his tenure from 1976-1980. He was traded to the Houston Rockets during the 1979-1980 season causing him to play 84 games during an 82 games season. He returned to San Antonio off waivers and finished the season, joining the Spurs in the playoffs against the Denver Nuggets and eventually the Los Angeles Lakers.
Donald Royal played small forward during the 1991-1992 season behind Sean Elliott. He played in 60 games averaging 4.2 point during twelve minutes per game.
After going undrafted, Sam Mack signed with the Spurs and played in 40 games before being waived. He played for four more NBA teams as well as a dozen squads in other leagues. Mack was eventually named to the ABA’s All-Star Team at the age of 40.
Dell Demps played a total of twenty NBA games, sixteen of which were with the Spurs. His eighteen year playing career was mostly overseas. After retiring from the court, he was an executive for New Orleans for nine years. He was replaced by former Spurs forward Danny Ferry.
Shooting guard Derrick Dial was chosen 52nd by the San Antonio Spurs in the 1998 NBA Draft. He played overseas, missing the Spurs first title run. In his two season with the Spurs, he played in 41 games, exactly half of his NBA career games. The other 41 were with the New Jersey Nets, Toronto Raptors, and Orlando Magic which took place between 2001 and 2004. Dial finished his career in the NBA D-League.
Charles Smith played shooting guard behind Antonio Daniels and Steve Smith (hence the C. Smith on his jersey). He played in 60 games averaging a career best 7.4 points per game that season. Smith played a majority of his career abroad where he racked up multiple championships and MVP accolades.
Anthony Goldwire was originally drafted by Phoenix but never suited up for the Suns. He did play with nine NBA teams as well as the ABA’s Kansas City Knights and a dozen overseas teams. Goldwire only played 10 games with the Spurs during the 2002-2003 season but was cut before the postseason.
Eventually, he did make his way to Phoenix as part of the 2010 Summer League coaching staff. He then served as an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks. While with the Bucks, Goldwire spoke of his time with the San Antonio Spurs as part of the franchises 40th anniversary. You can read his comments here.
Robert Horry wins two Championship with the Spurs
To be fair, Robert Horry has been a part of seven NBA Championships, but only two were earned during his five seasons in the Alamo City. Although he played less as his career wound down, Big Shot Bob was clutch until the end.
*The 2005 NBA Championship is running on Fox Sports Southwest this week followed by the 2007 title if you want to catch the full games.
I know what you’re thinking, “Ime Udoka was a Spurs assistant coach, not a player.” He might be better known for his seven season at Pop’s side, but Udoka, originally undrafted, played a dozen NBA games between 2003 and 2006 before signing with the Portland Trail Blazers as the starting small forward. He joined the Spurs the following season and wore the #5 vacated by Robert Horry when Horry returned to his preferred #25. He played two seasons as a reserve before heading out in free agency.
Udoka returned for a second stint in 2010 but was released on waived after only 20 games.
In 2012, Ime joined the Spurs coaching staff and was essential in bringing LaMarcus Aldridge to the Spurs in 2015.
Cory Joseph wears #3 during the Championship 2014
The first of two 29th draft picks by the Spurs, Cory Joseph came to San Antonio in 2011 from the University of Texas as point guard behind Tony Parker. Joseph is noted for asking Pop to send him to the D-League. The extra playing time and development helped as he made a difference. Joseph started in place of Tony Parker for five games in 2013 and hit 58.6% scoring 8.8 points during the run.
Cory was part of the 2014 NBA Championship and played a pivotal, albeit almost unnoticeable role, in getting the Spurs out of Oklahoma City Thunder. The Spurs had beat the Thunder in the first two games, but in Game 3 Serge Ibaka returned from injury and the tables turned. OKC handled the Spurs for two games to even up the series.
But during the blowout in Game 4, Pop pulled the starters and put in Cory Joseph and the reserves who played enough that Scott Brooks left his key players - namely Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook - on the floor. With Joseph at the helm, the Spurs played fresh and fast and this may have been enough rest for the starters to help the Spurs return home prepared to take on the Thunder.
As it tends to go, Cory Joseph was offered a 4-year/$30M contract that took him back to his hometown as a member of the Toronto Raptors. Joseph has since played in Indiana and currently Sacramento.
The second 29th draft pick is the Spurs current starting point guard Dejounte Murray who made the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in his second season with the Spurs. His story is unfinished and fans still have high hopes for the Seattle standout.
Last October, Murray signed a 4-year/$64M extension keeping him with the Spurs through the development of his career. As the leader of the Youth movement (along with Derrick White and Lonnie Walker IV), a new era of San Antonio basketball awaits.
Interesting numerical fact: Donald Royal, Derrick Dial, and Anthony Goldwire were all chosen 52nd in their respective draft classes. Charles Smith was chosen 26th (exactly half of 52).
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