A 50-victory season has pretty much been the standard of excellence for National Basketball Association teams over the years.
The San Antonio Spurs know a little something about that.
The Spurs last week hit the magic 50-victory plateau again, marking the 12th straight season the Spurs have won at least 50 games.
Think about it, 12 straight seasons of 50 victories. Pretty impressive.
“It’s obvious that it starts with having good players, quality players and management and ownership that have good continuity and everybody being on the same page,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who has been on the San Antonio bench throughout the 50-victory streak. “Over time, if that’s in place, you can make good decisions.”
Of course, having some good fortune in the draft doesn’t hurt either.
“If you can draft Tim Duncan after David Robinson, that’s a pretty good stroke of luck,” said Popovich.
The Spurs began their run by winning 53 games in 1999-2000, and their streak might be even longer had the 1998-99 strike-season not been shortened to 50 games. The Spurs won their first of four titles that season after going 37-13 during the abbreviated regular season. That .740 winning percentage would have translated into 60 victories over an 82-game season.
Magic Johnson and the Lakers won 50 games for 12 straight seasons from 1980-91, tying the current Spurs for the longest such streak in league history.
Dallas (2001-10) and Boston (1959-68) have strung together 10 straight 50-victory seasons, while the Celtics won 50 games for nine straight seasons from 1980-88.
The Spurs this season reached 50 victories in 61 games, the fastest they have done so. The 2005-06 Spurs, who won a franchise-best 63 games, had a 48-13 record after 61 games and won their 50th game in their 64th game.
This season, the Spurs were the first team to reach 20, 30, 40 and 50 victories and perhaps the only thing that is more impressive than their record is their injury report.
The Spurs’ lineup of Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, and DeJuan Blair started together all season until Parker went down last week with a calf injury. Parker was expected to miss two to four weeks, but he made a surprising return in the Spurs’ 125-95 dismantling of the Miami Heat on Friday. George Hill started in Parker’s place and received the bulk of the minutes at point guard.
“As long as T.P. is out, that is what he is going to have to do,” said Duncan of Hill’s aggressive play.
Duncan, by the way, is the only player who has been with the team throughout the 50-victory streak.
“I think what this streak says is that Tim Duncan is a pretty good player,” said San Antonio’s Matt Bonner .