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, #4, and #11.
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 complete our look at #17 with a look at Johnathon Simmons.
He was fast. He was fearless. And he seemed to come out of nowhere.
If there is a “Road Not Taken” in professional basketball, Jonathon Simmons was the bulldozer who broke the ground.
Simmons attended three colleges over three years and passed on his senior year to declare for the NBA draft. After going undrafted, the young Houstonite was signed by the Sugar Land Legends in the American Basketball League.
As the legend tells, he then went on to drop $150 to participate in a D-League tryout for the Austin Toros. He spent two season with Spurs affiliate as they transitioned into the G-League Austin Spurs.
During the summer of 2015, Jonathon started out with the Brooklyn Nets. While competing in Orlando, the San Antonio Spurs invited him to join the Silver & Black in Las Vegas. The result was the Spurs, led by Becky Hammon, winning the Summer League Championship. Kyle Anderson was the Summer League MVP and Jonathon Simmons was the Championship Game MVP. His quickness and shooting ability took center stage in front of the entire league.
Simmons then joined the San Antonio Spurs. His Cinderella story resonated and he quickly became a fan favorite. He signed a 2-year contract worth approximately $1.4M. Not bad on a $150 buy in. He came off the bench averaging 16.6 minutes per game scoring just over 6 points-per-game.
Simmons was offered another contract with the Spurs worth $1.6M at the end of 2017, but the Orlando Magic offered $20M/3-years. The boy from Houston had come into his own.
Unfortunately, the star dropped as fast as it rose. Simmons never saw the full 20 million. He spent a season-and-a-half with the Magic before being traded along with a pair of draft picks to the Philadelphia 76ers for Markelle Fultz.
Simmons completed the season before being traded to and eventually waived by the Washington Wizards during the summer of 2019.
Of that original $20M contract, Simmons acquired just over $12M.
In February 2020, The Juice then went on join the Santa Cruz Warriors, but by October 2020, Simmons was headed to China to play with Liaoning Flying Leopards.
This turned out to be another in a series of short-lived stints as the Flying Leopards terminated Simmons’ contract last month.
There is no telling what is next for Jonathon Simmons, and perhaps in the framework of dollars, Simmons’ best days are most assuredly behind him.
But everyone loves a comeback. And people love a story that tugs on the heart strings. If anyone is capable, it would be the guy whose rise came from his belief in himself.
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