1999 NBA Season Recap: The Spurs' Record Year
In many ways it was a dismal year for the NBA. The lockout shortened the regular season to 50 games and when the players finally did return to the court the product was lackluster.
The greatest player of all-time also said farewell this year, leaving the game with six rings and miles of highlight film. So the void left behind by Michael Jordan and the fall of the Bulls Dynasty was a different league for sure. Who would step up and take the first title of the Post-Jordan era? Surely a longtime contender like the Utah Jazz? If not the Jazz, then a highly-talented veteran team like the Houston Rockets? How about an energetic team led by a head coach with a proven track record like the Miami Heat?
No, it was the surprising San Antonio Spurs that finished the shortened regular season tied with the league's best record and then rolled through the post-season on the enormous strength of their front court. More specifically the one-two punch of Tim Duncan and David Robinson.
Robinson had been recognized as one of the best big men in the league for years. The knock on the “Admiral” was that he is soft. A strange rep for a former military man. The Spurs and Robinson were infused with new life with the arrival of Tim Duncan in 1998. The top pick out of Wake Forest won Rookie of the Year honors and quickly proved the hype surrounding him coming out of college was not excessive. Now, looking back, it looks like the experts might even have underrated him a little.
Duncan and a somewhat reassigned Robinson proved unstoppable down low and showed that two seven-footers could play together and win a title. Something that another highly-touted pair of “Twin Towers” Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson were never quite able to accomplish together.
Vince Carter, the fifth pick in the draft out of North Carolina, started what could eventually be a Hall of Fame career in Toronto and won rookie of the year honors in 1999. While Darrell Armstrong led a revival in Orlando winning the awards for Sixth Man of the Year and Most Improved Player.