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.
Today, most fans know Steve Kerr for being the second-best coach in the NBA and heir-apparent to the title of best active coach once Gregg Popovich retires. None of that is surprising: he models much of his coaching style after Pop (while being younger and therefore more open to the modern style), right down to being teasingly curmudgeonly with the media. But what some outside of San Antonio may forget is he played for the Spurs during their first two championships — and he wasn’t just an over-the-hill bench warmer tacking on a couple of extra rings after winning three straight with Michael Jordan’s Bulls.
While he only appeared in 131 games across three seasons from 1998-2001 before a spending season in Portland, he returned and actually played in 75 games in his final season, hitting 39.5% of his threes while playing backup point guard for the Spurs’ 2003 championship team, which believe it or not was lacking depth behind Tony Parker. (Speedy Claxton would eventually move into the backup PG spot around the end of the Rodeo Road Trip.)
However, what most Spurs fans probably remember Kerr for is his huge fourth quarter in Game 6 of the 2003 Western Conference Finals. Even with a young Dirk Nowitzki out for the series with an injury, the Spurs were struggling to put the pesky Dallas Mavericks away. Two-time MVP Tim Duncan was having a rare bad — and I mean BAD — night (I still remember “Tim Duncan with his first field goal in 27 minutes!”), and Parker was battling food poisoning from eating a bad crème brulee.
The Spurs were down big late in the third while struggling to score and just needed someone — anyone — to provide a spark. That ended up being Kerr (and Stephen Jackson, to a lesser extent), who had barely played in the in playoffs and came in ice cold to hit four massive threes to spark the Spurs to victory. It was a huge win that finally got the Spurs over the hump and into the 2003 NBA Finals after a three-year drought.
It’s one of my favorite Spurs playoffs memories, and one thing that made the 2003 Championship DVD the best one was it had the fourth quarters of each series-clinching game in the Special Features. My sister and I used to watch them all the time, especially this game, so this is a memory that is engrained in my brain forever.
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