Skip to main content

Since the 1996-1997 NBA season, basketball fans have grown accustomed to seeing the San Antonio Spurs qualify for the postseason and, more impressively, make a deep run. With an astute front office and one of the greatest coaches of all time in Gregg Popovich, the organization has consistently assembled a talented roster that has included the names of current and future Hall of Famers like Robinson, Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker.

It appears the silver has lost its luster and the black symbolizes bruising as the 22-year playoff appearance streak for one of the most well-managed sports organizations in the world comes to an end this season. Do you remember what was happening the last time the Spurs missed the playoffs?

In basketball

That season a young rookie named Kobe Bryant made his first appearance for the Los Angeles Lakers. He started six games that year. Another rookie, Allen Iverson, earned Rookie of the Year honors averaging 23.5 points per game. 

Out in Utah, Karl Malone averaged 27.4 points and pulled down 9.9 rebounds per game, and was named league MVP.

Michael Jordan led all scorers that season averaging 29.6 points per game and, more significantly, led the Chicago Bulls to their fifth NBA title in seven seasons. 

In other sports

In April, Tiger Woods collected the first of his four green jackets with his record-setting Masters’ victory, becoming the youngest golfer to win at age 21 and the first African-American to win. He lapped the field finishing 12 strokes clear of second place.

In baseball, the Florida Marlins defeated the Cleveland Indians in seven games of the World Series. Up in Boston, Roger Clemens won the American League Cy Young, the fourth of his career, while Pedro Martinez pitched his way to the National League Cy Young award for the now-defunct Montreal Expos. Seattle’s Ken Griffey topped the AL for MVP and Colorado’s Larry Walker earned NL MVP honors.

In NFL action, the Denver Broncos defeated the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Brett Favre in Super Bowl XXXII. Favre and Barry Sanders shared the MVP title that season. And the big off-field news that year was the exit of the Houston Oilers, who headed off to Tennessee.  

And who could ever forget the last time the Spurs missed the playoffs that one of the biggest sports headlines of the year was when Mike Tyson got hungry and decided to take a bite out of Evander Holyfield’s ear. 

In entertainment

That year was a big one for movies as the The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Men in Black, and Titanic hit the big screens. Titanic went on to achieve titanic critical and commercial success winning Academy Awards for best picture and best director. It had an initial worldwide gross of over $1.84 billion.

In television, cartoons South Park and King of the Hill debuted. NBC dominated primetime with the top four shows that year in Seinfield (its final season), ER, Veronica’s Closet, and Friends. That year was a sad one as well with the death of comedian and SNL star Chris Farley at age 33. 

In music, “Something About the Way You Look Tonight”/”Candle in the Wind,” a tribute to the late Princess Diana by Elton John was the longest running No. 1 song. 

In the news

Death of Princess Diana
Death of Princess Diana | Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images Images

The biggest news headline of the year occurred when Princess Diana tragically died in a car accident in France. An estimated 2.5 billion people watched her funeral on television.

Ellen DeGeneres also made headlines that year when she publicly came out. 

And after a seven-month journey, the Mars Pathfinder finally reached its destination landing on Mars.

Cost of living since Spurs missed playoffs

  • New house – $124,100.00 
  • Income per year – $37,006.00 
  • Gallon of gas – $1.22 
  • New car – $16,900.00 
  • Loaf of bread – $1.17 
  • Movie ticket – $4.59 

When you reflect back on 1997 and the many memorable moments, depending on your interests, some of them probably feel a little more recent than others. You can remember them like it was yesterday.

What’s hard to believe is since all those things happened, the San Antonio Spurs have had one of the most successful runs of any team in the history of sports. Not only have the Spurs not missed the playoffs during this time, but they won the NBA title five times (1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2014). 

It will be odd not to see the silver and black this postseason, but you can be sure under Popovich’s leadership it’s just a matter of time before they make their return.