The San Antonio Spurs began their new season with a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves – that’s a familiar position for the team. What’s unfamiliar is the roster of players who earned the victory.
For the first time since 1997, the Spurs’ roster won’t feature three of its star players: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. For over two decades, those three formed the core of a team that won five championships, and a place in the hearts of Spurs fans.
But now, since Duncan retired at the end of last season, Ginobili decided to hang up his sneakers in August and Parker is now playing for the Charlotte Hornets, it is truly the end of an era in San Antonio, and an opportunity for some Spurs fans to look back at the past 20 years.
“They were so ingrained with the community that it’s been kind of weird, like, knowing that the Spurs are playing, but not seeing the ones that I grew up with,” Jess Elise Herreras says. “I think Manu had been such a big part of seeing a Latino person on screen playing basketball, so that was a way to connect with the team early on.”
She says becoming a fan was also part of feeling like a member of her “new hometown” when she first moved to San Antonio.
“It was nice knowing that I was part of that community that was so, so, so in love with this team,” Herreras says.
Rob Wicall was the Spurs Coyote for 16 years.
“It’s a time of my life that, obviously, will never be recreated,” Wicall says. “Until I left the Spurs, I had been to every home game at the AT&T Center.”
Wicall says putting the Coyote head on and getting in front of the Spurs crowd helped him through tough times in his life.
Daniel Sanchez lives in Los Angeles now. He says he feels immediately connected to anyone he sees wearing Spurs gear in L.A.
“There’s like these moments in my life that are definitely just tied to specific games or moments in games,” Sanchez says. “I think it’s fun to be able to have this sort of timeline.”
Written by Laura Rice.