History

Spurs Country: How San Antonio Became Home to NBA Champions

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The San Antonio Spurs have a huge fan base, both inside and outside of the city limits. A highly accomplished team with an enormous presence in the community, this NBA division is among the most popular in the country. As one of four former American Basketball Association (ABA) teams to remain intact in the NBA after the 1976 ABA–NBA merger, the Spurs rank first among active franchises for the highest winning percentage in NBA history. But do you know how San Antonio became home to the Spurs, especially since it’s the only major-league team to have lasted here more than five years?

Spurs Country: How San Antonio Became Home to NBA Champions

Photo: Facebook/San Antonio Spurs

Originally formed as the Dallas Chaparrals in 1967, the first two seasons were non-eventful as the city was generally dismissive of the team. At one point, the name was changed to Texas Chaparrals and the territory expanded to bring in regional support, but it was all to no avail. Although modestly successful as players, the Chaparrals did not do well financially. This is attributed to the ownership group, who refused to spend much money on the team. Then, missing the playoffs caused an owner exodus.

It was at this time, a group of 36 San Antonio businessmen worked out a “lend-lease” deal with the Dallas ownership group. The Chaparrals would be leased for three years and moved to San Antonio. If no purchase had occurred by 1975, then the team would go back to Dallas. With this, the Dallas Chaparrals became the San Antonio Gunslingers, which was then changed to the San Antonio Spurs before a game was even played.

Spurs Country: How San Antonio Became Home to NBA Champions

Photo: Facebook/San Antonio Spurs

In the first game, the team lost but attracted 6,000 fans. They finished the season with a 45–39 record, earning 3rd place in the Western Division, partially due to the adding of George “The Iceman” Gervin to the team. San Antonio embraced the team with open arms: each game drew 6,303 fans, surpassing the Chaparrals’ entire total attendance in only 18 games. After only one year, the franchise was purchased outright, and San Antonio became Spurs country permanently. As of February 2018, The Spurs have a winning percentage of 71% which is second highest in pro sports behind only the 72% racked up by the New England Patriots the past 20 years. Go, Spurs, Go!