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1998-99 San Antonio Spurs
ROUND 1: Defeated by 1986-87 LOS ANGELES LAKERS | RESULTS



HEAD COACH: Gregg Popovich

TEAM STATISTICS
FG%
FT%
REB
AST
STL
BLK
PPG
OFFENSIVE
.456
.698
2198
1101
421
351
92.8
DEFENSIVE
.402
.701
2102
941
437
243
84.7

NOTABLE INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
NO.
PLAYER
G
MIN
FG%
REB
AST
PPG
21
50
1963
.495
571
121
21.7
50
49
1554
.509
492
103
15.8
32
Sean Elliott
50
1509
.410
213
117
11.2
6
50
1672
.473
118
369
9.7
17
Mario Elie
47
1291
.471
137
89
9.7
2
Jaren Jackson
47
861
.380
99
49
6.4
31
47
608
.463
182
29
6.0
33
47
614
.454
54
106
4.7
4
Steve Kerr
44
734
.391
44
49
4.4
25
Jerome Kersey
45
699
.340
130
41
3.2

San Antonio struggled in the first month of the lockout-shortened 1999 season. But once the Spurs hit their stride, nobody could block their path to the franchise's first NBA title, thanks to two selfless big men, a collection of exceptional role players, and a smothering team defense.

1998-99 SEASON RESULTS
RECORD (PCT.)
37-13 (.740)
FIRST ROUND
CONFERENCE SEMIS
CONFERENCE FINALS
NBA FINALS

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

1998-99 Spurs: Play

The Spurs were anchored in the middle by seven-footers Tim Duncan and David Robinson. While Robinson was on the down slope of his career at the time, he was still one of the game's best centers. He averaged 15.8 points per game for the season, and was a force on the boards. Plus, he allowed Duncan plenty of room to operate down low, as the soft-spoken power forward averaged 21.7 points for the season. Key components Mario Elie, Sean Elliott and Avery Johnson rounded out the rest of the team's core. The collection of heady veterans -- along with their athletic anchor in the middle, Duncan -- knew that their greatest strength lay in their exceptional team defense. For the season, the Spurs held their opponents to 40.2 percent shooting from the field, a record-low.

The Spurs were truly dominant en route to the title, with 46 wins in their last 53 games -- including a 15-2 record in the playoffs. They eventually cruised to the franchise's first NBA championship with a 4-1 Finals victory over the New York Knicks. In so doing, the Spurs became the first of the four former ABA teams to secure an NBA title, and became the first team other than the Chicago Bulls or Houston Rockets to win an NBA championship since 1990.

The Spurs' 1999 title team will probably be best known for ushering in the Era of Tim Duncan. The then-second-year forward out of Wake Forest had a terrific playoff run, but saved his best for The Finals. In five games against New York, Duncan averaged 27.4 points and 14.0 rebounds per game, shooting 54 percent from the field in a decidedly defensive series, and teamed with David Robinson to keep the undersized Knicks at under 40 percent shooting (39.2) for the series. Further, Duncan wiped away his only notable deficiency of the regular season, free-throw shooting, by making 35 of his 44 attempts (79.5 percent) against New York. Duncan was a unanimous choice of a media panel as the 1999 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player.

The '99 Spurs will also be known as one of the game's most selfless championship squads, as the Spurs' big men defined team play while maintaining excellence. In fact, San Antonio won it all because of one of the greatest acts of selflessness seen in the NBA in many years. David Robinson, who had been the Spurs franchise player and cornerstone for a decade, allowed the more complete offensive player, Duncan, to become the focal point of the offense, and stepped up his efforts on the defensive end. The result was that the Spurs transformed into one of the NBA's top defensive teams, and Duncan into one of the league's most unstoppable offensive weapons. Without Robinson's sacrifice, the Spurs would not have raised the championship trophy. With Robinson manning the high post, Duncan had the low post to himself, and punished a series of Knicks defenders with 33, 25, 20, 28 and 31 points in the five Finals games.

Another compelling story line came to light after the season ended. Starting forward Sean Elliott revealed that he had played despite needing a kidney transplant. Elliott, who was battling a rare kidney disease, received the transplant Aug. 16. His brother Noel donated the kidney. Elliott averaged 33.8 minutes in 17 playoff games and was responsible for the "Memorial Day Miracle." On that play, he tiptoed the sideline to stay inbounds before hitting a 3-pointer with nine seconds left, lifting the Spurs to an 86-85 win over Portland in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.