The San Antonio Spurs are one of the most storied franchises in NBA history. In fact, they are one of the most well-run organizations in sports history. They have set a foundation of winning, superstar talent, and excellent coaching en route to multiple NBA championships and playoff success. They have only added to that base, and have yet to experience a single hiccup since 1997. When it comes to pure class and intelligence, the Spurs are truly in a league of their own.
It has been ages since the Spurs last missed the playoffs, and many (especially the younger generation) do not understand how dominant the Spurs have been over the past two decades and running.
Some big names such as Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan, and David Robinson have all been associated with the Spurs and so do five NBA championships over one of the most impressive stretches in NBA history.
Here is what happened the last time the Spurs missed the NBA Playoffs.
1. Vince Carter was a sophomore at UNC
One of the most iconic players and arguably the best dunker in NBA history, Carter has had an unbelievably long career. Playing into his 40’s, Carter has used his long-range shooting ability to remain effective despite losing almost all of his athleticism which made him a dominant player in his prime.
Dating back to 1997, Carter was a UNC sophomore when the Spurs missed the playoffs. It has literally been that long. Carter was a beast at UNC, raising his profile by making the Final Four twice in bus three years there. He was eventually selected 5th overall by the Warriors, where he was later traded to the Raptors.
2. Kobe Bryant played his rookie season in the NBA
Legendary Kobe Bryant was a rookie the last time the Spurs missed the playoffs. This is hard to believe considering he only retired a few years ago. Kobe was such a phenomenal athlete as a rookie but was just so raw in every aspect. It wouldn’t take long before he became one of the best players in the league and led the Lakers, along with Shaq, to three straight NBA titles.
The Spurs would eventually become rivals to Kobe’s Lakers for many years, during and after the Shaq era. Kobe has the upper hand on the Spurs through most of his career, and the Spurs would probably have a few more rings if it wasn’t for Mr. Bryant.
3. Mario Kart 64 just came out
One of the most iconic and popular games of all time, Mario Kart 64 was just released the last time the Spurs missed the playoffs. This game was probably the most popular Nintendo 64 game many can remember, and became a staple for households all over the world. Mario Kart ended up being the second most sold Nintendo 64 game ever and was the first in its series that actually used 3-dimensional graphics.
Needless to say, Mario Kart set the bar very high for all the video games that followed after. Even now, it is very hard to find a game that was as fun and interactive as Nintendo’s legendary installment.
4. Harry Potter was first released
That’s right, the legendary Harry Potter book was first released the last time the Spurs missed the playoffs. This is so unbelievable, especially considering how much of an impact Harry Potter has had in all of our childhood. It seems that Harry Potter has been around for an eternity, and in many ways it has. The Spurs have not missed the playoffs in over 20 years, and we would not be shocked if they added another 10.
It is fitting that one of the league’s most legendary franchises coincides with one of the most iconic book series of all time. Since then, there have been countless Harry Potter films that build off of the legendary book series.
5. Allen Iverson won the Rookie Of The Year Award
Iverson was a rookie sensation the last time the Spurs missed the playoffs, and produced big time but scoring the basketball. Iverson averaged 23.5 ppg, basically putting the entire NBA Universe on notice that he is coming to finish his career as a first-ballot Hall of famer.
Iverson failed to win an NBA title in his career but will go down as one of the all-time greats. San Antonio has captured five NBA titles over their franchise’s history led by Gregg Popovich.
6. Pokemon was first introduced to the world
Pokemon, one of the world’s most popular crazes, was first released the last time the Spurs missed the playoffs. This is quite incredible considering how long Pokemon has been relevant. Even when it dies down a bit, it recently became a craze once again with the release of Pokemon Go.
Most of us grew up with Pokemon cards, board games, and tv shows- and the Spurs were dominant during that time whether we knew it or not.
7. Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield’s ear
That’s right, the infamous boxing incident where Tyson bit off Holyfield’s ear was the same year the Spurs failed to miss the playoffs. Tyson is one of the most dominant boxers of all time, and he was as ruthless as you could get in the ring. Since then, the Spurs have not missed a single playoff appearance while Tyson has long been retired. Incredible.
8. Tiger Woods becomes youngest ever golfer to win Masters
Legendary golfer Tiger Woods captured the Masters’ victory and made history as the youngest golfer to do it. Since then, Tiger has gone on to win many more while the Spurs started an impressive streak of their own. Tiger, for good and bad reasons, is one of the most popular athletes of all time while the Spurs are one of the best franchises in sports history.
9. Pat Riley won Coach of the Year with the Heat
The last time the Spurs missed the playoffs, legendary NBA head coach and current GM of the Miami Heat won the coach of the year award while coaching the Heat. He did a tremendous job, leading the Heat as an Eastern Conference Runner-up to the great Chicago Bulls led by MJ. This shows how great the Heat were that year, and how great the Spurs are for maintaining such a long playoff streak.
10. NASA Pathfinder lands on Mars
Quite hilariously, NASA Pathfinder landed on Mars the last time the Spurs missed the playoffs. San Antonio just do not know any other way but to win games and make the playoffs, and even a Mars landing was just as recent. Quite simply, we will probably never see another franchise with that same kind of consistency of dominance. From the management down to the players, the Spurs are simply a first-class organization.