Let me remind you what 1997 looked like. On March 9th Notorious B.I.G. was shot and killed. Later that month Cuba Gooding Jr. won an Oscar for best supporting actor in ‘’Jerry Maguire’’. The year also featured “The Titanic”, “Men in Black” and “Good Will Hunting”. A gallon of gas was 1.22$. We found out that Nelson Mandela is a Spice Girls fan, as he described meeting them as: ‘“…one of the greatest moments of my life.”
On April 24th Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith, Lauri Markkanen, and De’Aron Fox were not even born yet. “Can’t nobody hold me down” by Puff Daddy (that was his name at the time) was the no.1 song on the charts. We doubt coach Pop was listening to it that day and there are two possible explanations for that scenario. The first one would be that he was not a Puff Daddy fan. I personally do not believe that Puff seems like the perfect artist to have on while drinking a nice bottle of wine. The second one was he didn’t feel like listening to the radio because the Spurs just missed the NBA playoffs.
April 24th, 1997 was the last time the NBA playoffs started without the San Antonio Spurs. Let that sink in. This is the longest active streak of playoff appearances in the NBA with 20 consecutive appearances! Second place? Atlanta Hawks with 10 and we already know that the Hawks are not making it this year. When it comes to all-time consecutive appearances the record is held by the Philadelphia 76ers with 22 between 1950 and 1971 (1950-1963 they were the Syracuse Nationals). Will the Spurs be able to reach the record? It is becoming less likely by the day.
After playing 67 games the Spurs are in 10th place with 37-30 and they are in for a tough ride. The 3rd Blazers are currently at 41-26 so there is a lot to be won or lost in the last 15 games. The problem for the Spurs? Out of those fifteen games, they play only three lottery teams: Magic, Lakers, and Kings. Twelve other games are all against teams in the playoff hunt or in the battle for seeding.
Not to be too pessimistic, ESPN’s BPI Playoff odds still gives them a 76% chance of making the playoffs and projects them as the 7th seed. 76% is not bad, but this tells you how incredible the Spurs have been in the past 20 years. Usually, 15 games to go for the Spurs means playoffs are already a lock. To make things even more ridiculous, in all those 20 years they always won at least 50 games in the regular season. The idea that they might not make the playoffs seems impossible.
The same night Cuba Gooding Jr. won his Oscar for best-supporting actor Frances McDormand won an Oscar for best actress in “Fargo” and later that year the Spurs didn’t make the playoffs. Nine days ago she won her second Oscar for best actress….maybe ESPN will need to adjust their BPI formula in a month.
Stats courtesy of BasketballReference.com, NBA.com, and ESPN.com. Image courtesy of BR Mag.