Your Tuesday Spurs history lesson


Because the San Antonio Spurs aren’t a major market team like the Lakers or Knicks, and perhaps because the majority of the team’s success (outside of one Finals appearance and frequent trips to the playoffs) have come more recently, there’s not a lot of literature out there on the history of the silver and black.

That’s changed, however. Veteran NBA writer Jan Hubbard recently wrote a book on the history of the Spurs, and several excerpts were posted over at Sheridan Hoops. Hubbard got some great access to people involved with the team and some great nuggets were unearthed.

Here’s one from each of the excerpts at Sheridan Hoops.

“So I’m watching this little TV, eating a burger and drinking a beer and they get to the pick that was supposed to be us. But it was somebody else. I couldn’t believe it. I was so shocked that I literally dropped my hamburger on the ground.”

They knew of successful businessmen Angelo Drossos and B.J. “Red” McCombs in San Antonio and approached them with a unique offer to lease the team for three years. Drossos and McCombs would have an option to purchase the team at the end of the lease, but the most enticing part of the offer was the amount of the lease.

One dollar.

Why so cheap? In the words of one of the Dallas owners at the time, “We didn’t want that sucker back.”

Drossos, who died in 1997, told Pluto in “Loose Balls” that the deal was probably the most unusual ever made. The American Basketball Association All-Star game was going to be played in Norfolk, Virginia, and Foreman did not want fans to boycott the game when they found out he had traded Gervin. So Drossos told Foreman the Spurs would make the deal for $225,000 and pay the money immediately. But the trade would not be effective until after the All-Star game, which was several weeks away.

That was only a small part of an intriguing story that was straight out of a spy novel.

“The owner [Foreman] said, ‘I’ve got to have cash,’” McCombs said in a recent interview. “So we call Frost Bank [in San Antonio] and tell them ‘you gotta get a guy and take this cash to National Airport in Washington, D.C., and go to a [designated] phone booth.’ And we’d been given the instructions as to how we had to deliver the money. [The courier was told] ‘wait for that phone to ring and when it does, the guy’s going to tell you where to go next.’ So it was really like a CIA kind of a program.”

Spurs coaches and scouts were split on Parker, so they were curious to see how he played in a one-on-one matchup with Lance Blanks, then a front office employee with the team. Blanks had played three years in the NBA and despite being 34 and retired, he relished competition.

With Parker suffering an acute case of jet lag, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Blanks simply embarrassed him in the workout. Afterwards, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich spared no words with Parker and his agent. “I told both of them that he’s too soft and I’m looking for someone with more fiber and grit,” Popovich said. “He was nonchalant, like he was in a café outside of Momart in Paris having a glass of wine and a croissant. It didn’t seem to matter to him any more than that.”

The perfect ending for Robinson coincided with an uneven start by Ginobili, who quickly became a fan favorite and a Popovich irritant for his wild and crazy antics. Ginobili had been drafted in 1999 after the Spurs’ first title, but they were hardly excited about the pick. They had a chance, in fact, to get him with a second-round pick, No. 40 overall. Instead, that pick was used to draft Croatian guard Gordan Giricek, who played for five teams and had a career average of 9.6 points in six seasons.

“Everybody thinks we are so smart for taking Manu with a late second-round pick,” [general manager R.C.] Buford said. “If we were that smart, we would have taken him instead of Gordon Giricek.”

There’s plenty of stories for Spurs fans to enjoy just on Hubbard’s posts on Sheridan Hoops, but you’ll probably want to go ahead and buy the book as well.

  • David Salazar

    Good to see some of the history of the Spurs. Thank you.

  • andy

    I assume pop was having a beer in the tent because the NBA didn’t provide his favourite wine. This book’s going on my list.

  • SpursFaninLA

    bit early for history lesson; history’s still being made as long as Pop and Timmy active

  • SAfaninPHX

    Keep up the good work guys. Always a good read.

  • assistman

    We should all buy this book early to send a message that the San Antonio spurs aren’t media poison, but rather that sustained success gains legitimate fans.
    It’s a similar logic that has had me boycotting clicking on ANY articles, stats pages, recaps or box scores about the glamor franchise or their stars, for several years now. Just imagine if all the haters did the same? I hate them for their media bias so I click elsewhere. Consumer power, baby! (Which is actual power if used.)

  • Len

    I am buying this book and I can’t wait to read it.

  • DorieStreet

    I going to get a three copies -one for me and one each for my brother-in-law and nephew back in San Antonio. Reviews for the book on are five-stars.

  • clintcy

    IT was a GREAT book. Loved it.