This year the Spurs are celebrating their 50th season in San Antonio. There have been many highs and a few lows. One trademark of the San Antonio Spurs has been their culture and their consistency. The keys to those qualities lie in their players. Always noted for development as well as being ahead of the curve on scouting international players, the Spurs way has made the franchise one of the most successful of all time. As we look back on the Silver & Black, we recognize the top 50 players in Spurs history. Each day, we will move up the countdown.
45- Vinny Del Negro
Vinny Del Negro has what is commonly thrown around in the basketball community as Championship DNA. After making the varsity team in his freshman year of high school, he was recruited and then transferred to Suffield Academy where he led the team to not one, but two, New England championships while becoming the academy’s all-time scorer.
In college, Del Negro played for North Carolina State University. As a junior, he led the Wolfpack to an ACC championship and was named tournament MVP. The following season, Del Negro was selected to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference team.
In 1988, Del Negro went 29th overall in the NBA Draft to the Sacramento Kings where he spent two season before heading overseas to Italy where he, you guessed it, won an Italian League Championship in 1992.
The following season he started a six-year stint with the San Antonio Spurs. During this time he had career bests in almost every category including points, assists, rebounds, steals, minutes, and three-point percentage.
Vinny was a fan favorite and key role player in the David Robinson era. This was the time when new generation of Spurs fans — my generation — were being groomed into fandom and teased into championship dreams.
Del Negro shared the court with the likes of The Admiral, Sleepy Floyd, Dennis Rodman, Willie Anderson, Terry Cummings, Antoine Carr, J. R. Reid, Sean Elliott, Avery Johnson, Doc Rivers, Chuck Person, Moses Malone, Vernon Maxwell, Dominique Wilkins, Jaren Jackson, and Malik Rose.
Unfortunately, Vinny left the Alamo City at the end of the 1998 season, just months before the San Antonio Spurs (and many of the same players listed above) hoisted the Larry O’Brien.
Del Negro has gone to two head coaching jobs, strangely enough he has not returned to the town where he was so beloved. Perhaps, a move to San Antonio is in his future?
Next up: A former Spurs guard stays near home as a V.P. of Basketball Operations.
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