To commemorate its 75th anniversary, the NBA will release a list in October detailing the 75 greatest players in history.
The league did the same thing back in 1997 to celebrate its 50th season, and most of the names from that list will likely carry over on to the new one. It’s important to note that the players won’t just be picked for their skills and abilities, but also the legacy that they left on the game.
This is because the NBA wants to tell an overarching story of its history, which is something that needs to be taken into account; we’re not just looking for the best players ever, but also the most iconic.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the Spurs that could make the list. Every single player who has ever suited up for the Silver and Black will be taken into account, so brief cameos do count (the years indicate when the players were with the Spurs). Some names will be obvious selections, while others might raise eyebrows.
Tim Duncan (1997-2016)
Do I even need to say anything?
The greatest player in Spurs history, one of the 10 greatest of all-time, and also an avid StarCraft player. Duncan didn’t make the 1997 list because he had just been drafted, but all he’s done since then is win, win, and win some more.
A 5-time champion, 2-time MVP, 3-time Finals MVP, and victim of the funniest ejection ever. I think it’s safe to move on.
David Robinson (1989-2003)
One of a few Spurs who made the “NBA at 50” list, Robinson’s place in history shouldn’t be questioned by anyone. He’s often overlooked when people discuss the greatest players of the 90s, but Robinson was absolutely one of the most dominant big men of his era.
The Spurs experienced a 35-game turnaround in Robinson’s rookie season, and he’s one of just five players who has won both MVP and DPOY in their respective careers. “The Admiral” is a lock to make the list again.
George Gervin (1976*-1985)
Another Spur who was on the 50th-anniversary list, Gervin might still be the best pure scorer who has ever played for the franchise. “The Iceman” is just one of five players who have ever won four or more scoring titles, and he averaged over 25 points per game during his career.
He was also a 12-time All-Star, 7-time All-NBA selection and has the smoothest finger roll of all-time. Gervin will be one of many returnees on the new list.
‘*’ = NBA years only
Kawhi Leonard (2011-2018)
The only currently active player on this list, Leonard’s inclusion here might be controversial, but it really shouldn’t be. The former Spur has blossomed into one of the best players in the game and is among the most dominant playoff performers in recent history.
No matter how Spurs fans feel about him, his place in history has long been cemented. Anyone who boasts a resume that includes two rings, two Finals MVPs, and two DPOYs at the age of 30 is a lock to make the list.
Manu Ginobili (2002-2018)
Spurs fans might not like Ginobili or Parker’s exclusion from the “locks” section, but don’t underestimate the sheer number of great players in NBA history. If we’re going purely off of counting stats and accolades, then Ginobili probably won’t make the list.
However, the legacy and impact he left on the game far exceed his relatively pedestrian Basketball Reference page. Ginobili is one of the most beloved players over the past few decades, and his influence on international players won’t go unnoticed by the voters.
As a result, expect Ginobili to make the list.
Tony Parker (2001-2018)
Although Parker has better stats and more accolades than Ginobili, I actually think the Frenchman has a lower chance of making the list. This is because he didn’t have as much of an impact on basketball as his Argentine counterpart did, both on and off the court.
However, it would be surprising for Parker — a 6-time All-Star and Finals MVP — to be omitted if Ginobili makes it. Although they still get overlooked, you can’t tell the full story of the league without mentioning the Spurs’ Big Three: the winningest trio of all time.
Pau Gasol (2016-2019)
I wouldn’t consider Gasol a lock, but he’ll likely make the list. Similar to Ginobili and Parker, the Spaniard has made a huge influence on international basketball and is also one of the more dominant big men of the past two decades.
Moses Malone (1995)
A 3-time MVP, Malone was on the 50th-anniversary list and is a lock to return next month. More importantly, who knew that Big Mo played his final 17 NBA games in San Antonio? If you’re making a trivia game about the Spurs, please include Malone in it.
Tracy McGrady (2013)
Outside of being really famous in China, TMac was legitimately one of the best scorers ever during his heyday. It might be hard to remember, but McGrady is a 2-time scoring champion, and there were legitimate debates as to who was better between him and Kobe Bryant in the early 2000s.
With that said, TMac’s far from a lock to make the list due to some negative perceptions about his career, injury issues, and his lack of playoff success (believe it or not, he never played a minute outside of the first round).
Dominique Wilkins (1996-1997)
Another less-known Spur, Wilkins played 63 games for the Silver and Black in the 1996-97 season. His inclusion here might be a surprise given that he wasn’t on the 1997 list, but I think there’s a chance he sneaks in this time; Wilkins has left a legacy as a high flyer and people still remember the role he played in the 1988 Dunk Contest against Michael Jordan.
Dennis Rodman (1993-1995)
Ah, saving the best for last. Rodman didn’t make the 50th-anniversary list either, but his notoriety has only increased since then.
Love Hate him or hate him, “The Worm” was part of two iconic dynasties and his inclusion in last year’s The Last Dance put his name back on the national stage.