Ranking the Spurs’ best role players of the last decade

With the labor negotiations heating up, and more NBA players mulling offers overseas, it’s a good time to relax a bit and look back at some role players that helped the San Antonio Spurs win three titles over the last 10 years.

Robert Horry and Bruce Bowen both played significant roles in San Antonio's title runs, but who is the better role player? (Photos via Bleacher Report)

If there’s any franchise that should serve as a model for the organizations in the NBA, it’s the Spurs.

Part of this consistent success has been due to the play of their “Big three” of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

Nonetheless, the Spurs would not have been so good without the help of these role players that fits the team to a tee.

Adam Fromal of the Bleacher Report made this list of the best five Spurs role players of the last decade.

Here is what he had to say:

5. Stephen Jackson

Spent only two seasons (2001-2003) with the San Antonio Spurs toward the beginning of his NBA Career, and the first of which was nothing special. However, he still deserves a place on this list thanks to his 2002-2003 campaign.

One year after playing in 23 games and averaging 3.9 points, 1.1 rebounds and 0.6 assists per contest, Jackson broke out and served as a crucial piece to the Spurs’ championship puzzle.

Stephen Jackson

Starting 58 games, the offensively talented swingman averaged 11.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per contest. But even more important, he upped his play during the playoff run that would result in another NBA Title for the storied franchise of the ’00s.

During those 2003 NBA Playoffs, Jackson averaged 12.8 points per game and established himself as the third leading scorer on the team.

4. Malik Rose

While he was never statistically dominant, Rose won over San Antonio fans during his eight seasons with the team thanks to his obvious love for the game. A love that manifested itself in tremendous displays of hustle and heart on both sides of the court.

From the time that he was traded to the Spurs in 1998 until he was traded away to the New York Knicks in 2005, Rose averaged 7.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game while serving as the backup power forward.

His best and most memorable game came during the 2002 NBA Playoffs against the Seattle Super Sonics when he took over for Tim Duncan and logged 28 points and 13 rebounds. Even though the Spurs lost the game by 12 points, they made a competitive contest out of a game that saw the Super Sonics post a 26-point halftime lead.

More importantly, the extra rest that the Spurs could give to both Duncan and David Robinson allowed them to feel rejuvenated and eventually win the title.

Down the road, Rose won’t be remembered by too many NBA fans. But he will always be remembered by Spurs fans.

3. Michael Finley

When he joined the San Antonio Spurs in 2005, Finley was clearly on the downside of his career and had to deal with the fact that he would obviously be Manu Ginobili’s backup; primarily serving as a three-point specialist.

Michael Finley

While his finest statistical moment of his five seasons with the Spurs came during Game 5 of the Spurs’ opening round with the Denver Nuggets in the 2007 NBA Playoffs when he made eight of his nine three-point attempts, that wasn’t his finest overall moment.

Finley won the first NBA Championship of his career in 2007 and was not only given the game ball, but also given a shout out by both Tim Duncan and Robert Horry after the series.

It was a sweet moment in his Spurs lifetime, one that saw him average 9.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

2. Bruce Bowen

An absolute lockdown defender, Bruce Bowen was never asked to do much else besides shut down the opposition. Still, when he was asked to do that, he excelled.

Although he was constantly accused of begin a dirty player, Bowen made All-Defensive teams eight times in his nine seasons with the San Antonio Spurs from 2001-2009. After his stretch of five-consecutive First Team selections from 2004-2008, he finally was left off the team in his final NBA season.

From 2001-2008, Bowen started every single game for the Spurs, both in the regular season and the playoffs. He averaged 6.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists.

1. Robert Horry

With the one exception of the moment when he  hip-checked Steve Nash into the scorers table during the 2007 NBA Playoffs, Robert Horry enjoyed remarkable success with the San Antonio Spurs during his time with the team from 2003-2008.

Malik Rose

Big Shot Rob, as he would come to be called thanks to his clutch shooting throughout his career, lived up to his moniker during his tenure in San Antonio. No shot was bigger than the  game-winning three-pointer he hit in Game 5 of the 2005 NBA Finals, completing a 21-point outburst in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Part of two title-winning teams with the Spurs, Horry averaged just 4.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game over this five-year stretch, but he came through when it counted.

Pretty good list from Fromal, however, one could make a strong case for Bowen as the best Spurs role player.

For one, Bowen won three championships with the Spurs compared to Horry’s two.

Agree or disagree with Fromal’s take?

Are there any other Spurs role players that deserved to be on this list?

How would you rank them? Share us your thoughts.


6 thoughts on “Ranking the Spurs’ best role players of the last decade

  1. I think the list is right on the spot, but I’d rank Bowen in front of Horry because Bruce has been an integral part of the Spurs’ defense in their three title runs. Horry made some timely big shots but for me Bowen’s ever present defense should get the nod.

  2. I agree with this list, all five players are definitely the Spurs’ best role players, but it’s a toss up between Horry and Bowen at #1.

  3. Steve Kerr should be on this list.
    If I’m not mistaken, he won two championships with the Spurs highlighted by an offensive spark in the 2003 NBA Finals against the Nets. He should replace SJax in this list.

  4. A vote here for anyone wouldn’t be justify anything. They all had a purpose either Defensively, Offensively. 5 of 6, yes that is if you include S. Kerr were 3 point specialist. Malik is what Blair will become in the near future. Horry and Kerr will be HOF. Bowen number #12 will eventually be retired, as for Jackson, Rose and Finley they will not be forgotten either for there contributions. You got a complete team here that would be starters anywhere. I guess we just got lucky or bless again. Thank you FO, and Coach POP for having an eye for talent that no else can see.

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