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 the last of these- #11.
The Early Years
Thus far eighteen teen different players have worn #11 for the San Antonio Spurs. Two additional players, Bob Verga and Nick Jones also wore eleven for the Dallas Chaparrals.
Joe Hamilton, the third Dallas Chaparral to wear #11, also carried through with the Texas Chaparral and eventually to the San Antonio Spurs. He played his best basketball averaging 12.9 points per game over that four year stretch. Hamilton was out of the sport before the NBA merger.
For Fred Roberts who played just over one season in San Antonio, he only wore #11 with the Spurs. He went on to a long NBA career as a journeyman that lasted most of the 80s and 90s.
A promising young point guard, Ray Williams, came into the NBA as the 10th pick in the draft in 1977. He played with the New York Knicks for four seasons averaging a career high 20.9 points per game in his third season. He continued strong scoring in New Jersey and eventually joined the Larry Bird Boston Celtics who lost in the Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers. By the time he joined the Spurs for twenty-three games in 1986, his career was dwindling down. He was waived by the Spurs, the third time that season for him. He only wore #11 in San Antonio.
Anthony Jones was chosen 21st in the 1986 draft by the Washington Bullets and played sixteen games before coming to San Antonio just two days before New Year’s. He played the remainder of the 1986-87 season with the Spurs before in the CBA. He had intermittent trips back into the big league before ending his short-lived career in 1991.
Vernon Maxwell played two stints with the San Antonio Spurs. After being traded on draft day to San Antonio, he played his rookie and half of his second season with the Silver & Black before being traded to the Houston Rockets in 1990. He would go on to win two NBA titles with the Rockets during the Michael Jordon baseball hiatus.
Maxwell would return for a second trip through the Alamo City during the 1996-97 season where he averaged 12.9 points per game. He went to play for six teams in his last three seasons, all but a journeyman since leaving Houston during their prime.
Clifford Lett played 7 of his 11 NBA games with the Spurs in 1991 on a 10-day contract.
Carl Herrera, the first Venezuelan to play in the NBA, joined the Spurs during the 1995-96 season and stayed for 3 seasons, but he only sported #11 in his first season. Herrera switched to #7 to accommodate the return of his former Rockets’ teammate Vernon Maxwell in 1996-97.
The Spurs first NBA Championship 1999
Brandon Williams, the first NBA Champion to wear #11 for the Spurs, did so in only 3 games in February of 1999. He did not play during the playoffs at all, but was on the roster when the champagne corks popped, so he makes the list of NBA Champions. In total, he played 18 NBA games, making him a candidate for the NBA Champion with the fewest game appearances.
After Williams, Shane Heal played 6 games with the Spurs as #11 in 2003 after playing most of his career in his native Australia.
Although Mike Wilks wore #29 with every other team he played on, he wore #11 during the Spurs Championship 2005 run. He played in 48 regular season games and did not see any court time during the postseason before moving on to Cleveland.
Spurs sweep the Cavs in 2007
Guard Jacque Vaughn joined San Antonio at the beginning of the 2006-07 Championship run and stayed through the remainder of his career, retiring at the end of his 3rd Spurs season as #11. A year later he joined the coaching staff as an assistant before becoming head coach of the Orlando Magic. Vaughn is currently assistant coach in Brooklyn where fellow Spurs ex-pat Sean Marks is general manager.
Cedric Jackson wore #11 on a 10-day contract in March of 2009.
The following season Chris Quinn joined the Spurs as #11 for 41 games during the 2010-11 season.
After recovering from a career-threatening injury, T.J. Ford ended his career in San Antonio after only 14 games when he was elbowed in the back by Baron Davis. “If it’s anybody else, it’s just a regular play. But because of me and my condition a simple elbow in the back has a different outcome than hitting someone else in the back.” He was traded along with Richard Jefferson and a 2012 1st round draft pick to Golden State for Stephen Jackson, and was then waived.
James Anderson was drafted by the Spurs on June 24, 2010 as the 20th pick in the NBA draft. He played 26 games during his first season while nursing a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his right foot. He would play one more season before the Spurs chose not to pick up his player option.
The Sweetest Spurs title run
The artist formerly known as Jeff Pendergraph, Jeff Ayres joined the Spurs in the 2013-2014 reclamation Championship campaign and joined in the fight during 73 regular season games. He mostly filled out garbage time in the playoffs and Finals as the Spurs dominated throughout. He stayed on through the 2014-15 season but experienced a reduction in his games and minutes. Ayers did not return for the 2015-16 season and has continued his career in the D-League, Moscow, Japan, and Turkey.
The current keeper of #11 is Michigan Spartan guard Bryn Forbes, who just completed his fourth season, or would have had the NBA not gone on hold. He’s a solid, clutch three-point shooter who has served as a starter since Dejounte Murray spent a season out recovering. The time gave him the opportunity to play more and push Pop to keep him when he otherwise might have fallen into the third behind Murray and Patty Mills.
Forbes is also now the longest tenured member of the team to wear #11. His longevity paired with his shooting has earned him a spot as the man who wore it best.
Now we just need to get him one of the NBA Championship rings.
Welcome to the Thread. Join in the conversation, start your own discussion, and share your thoughts. This is the Spurs community, your Spurs community. Thanks for being here.
Our community guidelines apply which should remind everyone to be cool, avoid personal attacks, not to troll and to watch the language.