Twenty Years Of Playoff Fever
By: Lorne Chan Spurs.com
Lee and Jackie Culver used to have free time in April. But that was more than 20 years ago before they bought their Spurs season tickets.
As the Spurs began their 20th straight postseason, it was the 20th straight playoff opener for fans who have been with the Silver & Black every step of the way.
They’ve missed their fair share of weddings, family reunions and cookouts, but they haven’t missed a key moment at the AT&T Center.
The Spurs began their 2017 Playoffs with an 111-82 win over Memphis on Saturday, with Kawhi Leonard scoring 32 points in front of a sold out crowd.
“Our family members don’t even ask to show up this time of year anymore,” Lee Culver said. “We wouldn’t know what do with ourselves if we didn’t have the Spurs in the playoffs.”
With the Detroit Red Wings missing the NHL playoffs this season and ending their postseason streak at 25 straight years, the Spurs hold the longest current playoff streak in American professional sports.
The Spurs have also held home court in the first round for 17 of the 20 straight playoff appearances, a feat that has shocked even some of their biggest fans.
The Culvers, Season Ticket Members for 25 years, remember watching the Spurs have a 20-62 season in 1996-97. After the Spurs won the NBA Draft lottery and selected Tim Duncan with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 Draft, they’ve since had a remarkable era of success. A few lucky fans like the Culvers have been along for the whole ride.
“We actually loved watching the 20-win season too, it was a fun team,” Lee Culver said. “And every year since has just been better and better.”
Now, the Culvers refuse to schedule anything before Father’s Day to make room for the playoffs. Their four grandchildren, the oldest who is 20, have known their whole lives that birthday parties and graduations could interfere with the Silver & Black.
C.D. Rodriguez, a 28-year Season Ticket Member said most of his life moments for the past 20 years have had the Spurs involved in one way or another.
“It’s crazy, but if you’re from San Antonio, it’s part of all of our lives, whether you’re in the building or not,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve seen history, and I’ll get to keep seeing history in the making. I still get the chills when they announce starting lineups.”
Rodriguez said he doesn’t take the Spurs’ playoff streak for granted, even now that some juniors in college weren’t born the last time the Spurs missed the playoffs. He points to this year as an example, where a roster with seven new players banded together to win 61 games.
“I’ve always trusted the Spurs to bring in the right guys and keep this going,” Rodriguez said. “There aren't many people in my life who never let me down for 20 straight years.”
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