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.
We started our journey of ocho with Ozell Jones, followed by Paul Pressey who was with the Spurs for 1990-1992 as a player but returned as an assistant coach. The number would go unused for a decade (save a denary of games in late 1996 by Tim Kempton). And then came Steve Smith
Steve Smith started his career drafted fifth overall in the 1991 NBA Draft by the Miami Heat after four spectacular years with the Michigan State Spartans. Smith played four years and graduated as the all-time leading scorer in Michigan State history, fourth on the school’s all-time assists list, and fifth in rebounds.
He played his first three seasons with the Heat serving as their starting shooting guard. His third season was his best statistically. He and the Heat won their first ever playoff game but then lost to the Atlanta Hawks.
Two games into his fourth season, he was traded to the Hawks for Grant Long and Kevin Willis in what was considered a lopsided trade favoring Atlanta. His five seasons with he Hawks were his best with any team. Smith averaged 18.6 points per game over that stretch.
At the end of the shortened 1999 season, Smith was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers along with Ed Gray for guards Isaiah Rider and Jim Jackson.
Steve Smith represented the United States of America with the Men’s Basketball Team in the 2000 Olympics and brought home a gold medal alongside Jason Kidd, Alonzo Mourning, Kevin Garnett, and Vince Carter.
At the end of the 2001 season, Steve Smith was traded by Portland to San Antonio for Steve Kerr and Derek Anderson.
In San Antonio, Smith served as the Spurs starting shooting guard. Playing alongside Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Tony Parker, and Bruce Bowen. Smith earned a career high 47.2% from beyond the arc that season.
That was not enough to keep Smith on the starting squad as the next season Stephen Jackson took his spot. Smith averaged nearly nine minutes and five points less per game. He saw decreasing time in the postseason as the series moved on until he only played 36 seconds at the end of the series, sharing the court with Kevin Willis, with whom he’d previously been traded.
After winning his sole NBA title, Steve entered free agency and signed with the New Orleans Hornets. He stayed one season before moving to Charlotte and playing with the Bobcats. Midway through the season he was traded to the Miami Heat where his career began for Malik Allen.
Since retiring, Steve Smith has served as an announcer for the Atlanta Hawks before becoming an analyst for Turner Sports.
Next up: Rasho Nesterovic.
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