When I joined Pounding The Rock two summers ago, 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 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 some numbers associated with four Spurs titles. Yes, of course, there is #9 and #20, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili respectively.
But there are three other jerseys which have each been involved with four successful title runs- #2, #4, and #11. In this instance, there is more than one player to wear that number during any given championship berth.
Today we move on to #4.
Up until the 1984-1985 NBA season, no one had worn #4 for the San Antonio Spurs. John Paxson was chosen 19th in the 1983 draft by the Spurs and played two seasons for them. If his name sounds somewhat familiar it might be because after his tenure with the Spurs, he signed to Chicago where he won three NBA titles with Michael Jordan’s Bulls. Currently, Paxson was seen in “The Last Dance” miniseries which covers the Jordan-era Bulls. He made the game-winning three in the 1993 Finals:
Paxson found a home in Chicago, first as an assistant to Phil Jackson, eventually moving into the front office involved in basketball operations.
The second player to don #4 for the Spurs was Byron Dinkins for ten games between November 7 and December 5 of 1990. Although his NBA career was short, he played professionally for fifteen years. Coincidentally, his #4 is retired . . . by UNC Charlotte where he played college ball.
Small Forward Devin Gray played a total of 27 games in the NBA, three of them for the San Antonio Spurs from January 8-17 in 1997 while on a ten-day contract during Gregg Popovich’s first season as head coach.
Ten days after Gray departed, swingman Darrin Hancock signed a 10-day contract with the Spurs. With even less opportunity, Hancock only played in one game on February 5, 1997 scoring four points and tossing one assist in his eight minutes and thirteen seconds. He was denied a second 10-day contract when the Spurs signed Jamie Feick.
Reggie Geary suited up for the Silver & Black during the 1997-1998 where he played point guard behind Avery Johnson for sixty-two games averaging 2.5 points, 1.2 assists, and 1.1 rebounds in 11 minutes per game.
I’m not going to lie. Jersey #4 isn’t looking any better than jersey #2. You’ve got a guy who fared better after he left San Antonio, three guys with a combined fourteen games over fifty days, and another player who managed to stay the entire season and then never returned to the NBA.
But as we’ll see, longevity may not be the hallmark of numero quatro. It’s all about the contributions that lead to its legacy.
Next Time: What do a west coast coach, an east coast GM, a producer of Lee Daniels’ The Butler, and a Laker swingman have in common? Rings.
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