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 #8.
Paul Pressey has had quite a long run with the NBA when you consider playing and assistant coaching roles. Drafted 20th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1982, Pressey is credited with defining the point-forward position, handling the ball for copious amounts of time on the court.
He spent his first eight seasons with the Bucks where he evolved into a starter in his third season. His fourth season brought an invitation to the NBA Slam Dunk Contest where he placed sixth out of eight.
When the salary cap of 1990 hit, the Bucks traded Paul Pressey to San Antonio for Frank Brickowski. Pressey came off the bench behind Willie Anderson at the shooting guard position while Larry Brown served as head coach and Gregg Popovich as assistant.
Pressey rounded out his career with the Warriors when he came out of retirement while serving as assistant to Don Nelson in Golden State. A season later, he was reunited with Coach Pop when Don Nelson brought him on as an assistant at Pressey’s urging.
“My first experience as a player with coach Gregg Popovich was when he was under Larry Brown. A couple years after that, Don Nelson called me about Popovich, who as out of a job at the time and wanted to know what I thought of him. I said, ‘He’s the best, a fantastic guy. He’s got a military background. He’s very accurate and is very smart man.’ A week later he (Nelson) hires him. A week later he (Nelson) calls me and asked if I wanted to coach at Golden State. That’s how Pop and I coached under Nelson together. Pop got the general manager job here in San Antonio and brought me on as an assistant. The rest is history.”
Pressey and Popovich were both assistants in Golden State from 1992-1994.
In 1994, both men returned to San Antonio, Pressey as assistant coach, Pop as GM and Vice President of Basketball Operations.
Pressey stayed in San Antonio through the turn of the century and was part of the Spurs historic first NBA title.
Pressey must have believed that Tim Duncan was heading to Orlando, because he joined their coaching staff that season. He followed that with stints on the Boston Celtics, New Orleans Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Los Angeles Lakers coaching staffs. Most recently he served as an assistant coach at St. John’s University.
Paul Pressey was interviewed about his time in San Antonio as part of the Spurs’ 40th anniversary series. His interview (where the above quote was pulled) is here.
Paul Pressey is not just one of the players to go down in Spurs lore, but part of the NBA coaching tree that stems from Gregg Popovich and San Antonio’s rich basketball culture.
Next up: Steve Smith claims #8’s first NBA ring.
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