Spurs To Retire Sean Elliott’s Jersey

Sean Elliott during the announcement.
(John Robbins/Spurs Photo)


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    The San Antonio Spurs have announced that they will retire Sean Elliott’s number. His No. 32 will be retired on March 6 when the Spurs host the Utah Jazz at the SBC Center.

    “This is a humbling day,” said Elliott, who was a member of the Spurs 1999 Championship team. “When I came to San Antonio 15 years ago I never would have dreamt that some day my number would be hanging up there with players like George Gervin and David Robinson. I’m honored and excited. But most of all I want to thank my family, all of my former teammates and coaches and, of course, all of the great fans for so many wonderful memories.”

    Elliott spent 11 of his 12 NBA seasons with the Spurs. He is San Antonio’s all-time leader in three-point field goals made (with 563) and attempted (1,485). He also ranks among the Spurs regular season all-time leaders in games (third with 669), points (fourth with 9,659), rebounds (sixth with 2,941), assists (seventh with 1,700), steals (eighth with 522) and blocks (ninth with 257). Elliott is the only player in franchise history to rank among the top 10 in all seven of these categories. He also saw action in 85 playoff games with the Spurs which is the second most post-season appearances in franchise history behind David Robinson’s 123.

    Sean Elliott as a World Champion.
    (Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty)

    Elliott was the starting small forward for the Spurs 1999 NBA Championship team. For the previous seven years he had suffered from focal glomerulosclerosis, a rare kidney disease. A month after the Spurs won the title – on July 21, 1999 – he announced that he would need to undergo a kidney transplant. On August 16, Elliott underwent a successful kidney transplant at the Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital in San Antonio, receiving his new kidney from his older brother Noel. After spending months working out on his own Elliott made NBA history on March 14 when he took the court against the Atlanta Hawks, becoming the first player in league history to return to action following a major organ transplant. Elliott appeared in 19 games during the 1999-2000 campaign and saw action in 52 games in 2000-01 before retiring in the summer of 2001.

    Selected by the Spurs with the third overall pick in the 1989 NBA Draft, Elliott earned a spot on the 1990 All-Rookie Second Team. After spending his first four seasons with the Spurs, Elliott was traded to Detroit on October 1, 1993. But his stay with the Pistons was short. On July 19, 1994 – less than two months after Gregg Popovich was named the Spurs general manager - Elliott returned to San Antonio thanks to a trade put together by Popovich.

    Elliott enjoyed his best season during the 1995-96 campaign averaging 20.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists. He made his second All-Star appearance (he was also selected as a reserve in 1993) and had 13 points and 5 rebounds in 22 minutes during the 1996 NBA All-Star Game which was held in San Antonio at the Alamodome.

    The Memorial Day Miracle.
    (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty)

    The biggest shot in Elliott’s career – and perhaps the most memorable play in Spurs history – came during the 1999 NBA Playoffs. On May 31 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals he hit an off-balance 24-foot jumper from the corner – with his feet literally tip-toeing the out-of-bounds line – with 9.0 seconds left to give the Spurs an 86-85 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Known today as the Memorial Day Miracle, the shot helped to propel the Spurs to their first NBA Championship.

    “Sean Elliott represents what the Spurs organization is all about,” said Spurs Chairman and CEO Peter Holt. “He was a tremendous player. He was a perfect teammate who always put the success of the team ahead of personal goals. But what he accomplished on the court only tells a small part of his story. He is a fighter, as he showed the world in how he dealt with his kidney transplant. He is a valued member of our community who has touched thousands of lives. He is a great father and husband. Most of all Sean Elliott is a good person. We are proud to retire his number and honor him for all that he has done for the Spurs and the city of San Antonio.”

    In his NBA career Elliott averaged 14.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 33.0 minutes in 742 regular season games.

    For the last four seasons Elliott has served as a television analyst for both the Spurs and ESPN. In the summer of 2004 he left ESPN to become the full-time TV analyst for Spurs Broadcasting.

    Elliott’s No. 32 will be the fifth number retired in the Spurs 32-year history. He will join former greats George Gervin (No. 44), Johnny Moore (No. 00), David Robinson (No. 50) and James Silas (No. 13). Details for Elliott’s retirement ceremony – which will take place following the Spurs-Jazz game on March 6 – will be announced at a later date.

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