The San Antonio Spurs will advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in six years following their Monday night 4-0 sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies. The Spurs have played in the NBA Finals four times in franchise history, and they’ve never walked away without a Championship. The franchise didn’t always have that kind of success, though, nor were they always a Western Conference team.
When the ABA San Antonio Spurs merged with the NBA in 1976, the Spurs joined the Eastern Conference. Since then, the Washington Wizards franchise has met with San Antonio twice during the Playoffs, once during the 1978 Washington Bullets Championship run and again the following postseason in 1979.
The Bullets defeated the Spurs 4-2 in the 1978 Eastern Conference Semifinals, and 4-3 in the 1979 Eastern Conference Finals. The Bullets made it to the NBA Finals both times, but they couldn’t manage to top the Seattle Supersonics again in 1979 following their Championship victory over the Sonics in 1978.
The Wizards, like the Spurs, have played in the NBA Finals four times in franchise history. The Wizards, however, have only won once. The 1978 Championship Bullets had similar talent to the 1999 Spurs, but not the same success.
San Antonio’s “Twin Towers”–Tim Duncan and David Robinson–gave the franchise their first of what would be four Championships in nine years (1999, 2003, 2005, and 2007). Robinson played through 2003, then retired. Washington boasted center Wes Unseld and forward Elvin Hayes in 1978. The tandem did their best in 1979, but they lacked the supporting cast and Unseld was not often called upon to be a scorer.
1999 Championship Spurs (Playoffs Averages)
Duncan (23-years-old): 23.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.4 blocks
Robinson (33-years-old): 15.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.6 blocks
1978 Championship Bullets (Playoffs Averages)
Hayes (32-years-old): 22.5 points, 14 rebounds, 2.7 blocks
Unseld (32-years-old): 10.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 0.7 blocks
Spurs guard Tony Parker scored a game-high 37 points Monday in the 93-86 Game 4 victory over the Grizzlies. Bullets small forward Bobby Dandridge scored 34 in Game 2 against the Sonics on Washington’s way to the 1978 Championship, but he–like Hayes, and Unseld–was approaching the end of his career. The Spurs, however, have continued to draft talent despite late round picks.
Where would the Spurs be without international stars like Manu Ginobili, the 57th pick of the 1999 Draft, or Tony Parker, the 28th pick of the 2001 Draft? Even as Duncan has aged, the Spurs have continued to find quality players to build Championship teams (even if those quality players have been nearly as old or older than Duncan himself). Washington will hope to have the same luck at the 2013 NBA Draft, on Thursday, June 27, as they build upon a young backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Playoffs Trivia: Who did the Wizards snag from the ’99 Spurs Championship team? Antonio Daniels, who backed up Gilbert Arenas at point from 2005-2009.
THE WNBA SEASON KICKS OFF
The Washington Mystics–who are still waiting for their first title run in franchise history–started their 2013-14 season off on a positive note Monday in a 95-90 victory over the Tulsa Shock. It’s hard, however, to top the news made by Phoenix Mercury rookie Brittney Griner, the 6-8 center who scored two dunks in her WNBA debut.
The WNBA began in 1997, and in the 16 years since the league has been fairly dunk-free. Not only did the two dunks by Griner set a league record for most dunks in one game, but it tied the league record for total dunks in a career, which is currently held by Los Angeles Sparks forward-center Candace Parker. Parker and Lisa Leslie (the first WNBA player to ever dunk in a game), are the only two WNBA players other than Griner to have recorded a dunk during a WNBA game.
Expect dunks to be the norm for Griner, but if she gets three fouls in the first quarter of every game she plays then you can also expect Phoenix to struggle this season.
Griner: 1st Dunk | 2nd Dunk | Highlights