Spurs 40th Anniversary Celebration

by Jeff Kezar

The 2012-13 NBA season marks the 40th anniversary for the Spurs in San Antonio. Over the course of 40 years, the city of San Antonio, the Spurs franchise, and its fans have memories that that will last forever.

The Spurs hosted a celebration on Oct. 30 at the AT&T Center commemorating the franchise’s anniversary with 40-year season ticket holders, Spurs Sports & Entertainment staff and with guest speakers that included Mayor Julian Castro, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, former Spur George “Iceman” Gervin, former Spurs head coach and executive vice president Bob Bass, Spurs president of sports franchises R.C. Buford and 40-year season ticket holder Stanley Blend.

San Antonio’s Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff is one of the few people who has seen the development of the Spurs franchise effect the growth of San Antonio as a political leader since the team arrived in the Alamo City in 1973.

“Forty years ago I was in the Texas Senate and quite a bit excited about bringing the Dallas Chaparrals to San Antonio, but nobody had any idea where it was going to from there,” Wolff said. “Building the AT&T Center has brought life into the east side of San Antonio and the renovation of the Coliseum, none of that could have happened and taken to a higher place without the Spurs.”

Mayor Castro enjoyed watching the Spurs growing up and is very proud of how the organization, its players and coaches represent themselves in the San Antonio.

“I commend the leadership of the team here with the Spurs, R.C. (Buford), Rick (Pych) and Peter Holt for the fine job they have done with the organization,” Castro said. “It says a lot that the Spurs have been recognized as the franchise of the decade, but even more, this organization has been maintained with the same care and great character that matches the city of San Antonio and its residents.”

Gervin, who spent 12 seasons with the Spurs, was instrumental in the Spurs early success in the 1970’s. He brought excitement to the game and garnered a fan base that has remained loyal in San Antonio. Even though his playing days are over, his impact can still be felt in San Antonio. He is a member of the Spurs community relations department and is passionately involved with Spurs community efforts.

“I’m so proud to still be part of the greatest franchise in NBA history,” Gervin said. “What we do in the community is spectacular. Forty years later, thank you San Antonio Spurs for being who you are and caring for our community.”

Over a 20-year span from 1974-94, Bob Bass has held various roles within the Spurs organization from head coach to the front office. He was responsible for the acquisition of Spurs legends Sean Elliott, Avery Johnson, Artis Gilmore, Johnny Moore and David Robinson. Bass has many fond memories with the Spurs in the ABA and NBA, but will never forget the start of professional basketball in South Texas.

“I’ll never forget the Celtics first game down here. They just couldn’t believe that we were this country but we showed them that we could play,” Bass said. “I remember our first NBA game in Philadelphia, Doug Moe was coaching and won that game. The Spurs have been beating the hell out of everybody since.”

Spurs president of sports franchises, R.C. Buford has been an integral part of the organization for 23 seasons. During his tenure in the Alamo City, he’s helped build four NBA championship teams and has seen the Spurs reel off the best 15-year winning percentage in NBA history of .702 (830-35) from 1997-2012.

The current era with the Spurs has been very successful, but he hasn’t forgotten the roots of professional basketball in South Texas.

“Over 40 years, the legacy that has been built here through all the people in uniform and out of uniform, has set the standard around the NBA,” Buford said. “It’s an honor to represent the organization.”  

The success of the organization in San Antonio could not have been accomplished without its passionate fans. As countless fans packed the HemisFair Arena, the Alamodome and the AT&T Center, they’ve created an atmosphere that has given the Silver and Black a home court advantage.  In their history, the Spurs have a .739 (1,129-419) winning percentage at home.

 “To think there are 96 season ticket holder accounts that have been with us that long is remarkable,” Buford said. “It’s a real tribute to you all that we’ve endured the success we have from our organization from Red (McCombs) and Angelo (Drossos) in the beginning and all the way to today.”

Blend believes the Spurs represent the city and have shaped how it is today. He has many memories of the team and its accomplishments of the franchise but it’s the people that comprise the organization that keeps him supporting the Spurs year-in and year-out.   

“The people that manage the Spurs have done a tremendous job of bringing in gentlemen to the team and to the city,” Blend said. “Men that are supporters of our town. How many cities can boast they have schools that have been started by two basketball players? These are reasons why the fans continue to support and will always support the Spurs.”

The celebration concluded with Mayor Castro and Judge Wolff presenting the Spurs with a county and city proclamation, wishing the Spurs well in their 40th season.

Throughout the season the Spurs will celebrate their 40th anniversary highlighting key moments in franchise history during Spurs telecasts, in-game and on spurs.com, Facebook and Twitter.