After a hard-fought loss, the San Antonio Spurs failed to keep their 22-year playoff streak alive.
On Thursday, the team fell 112-118 to the Utah Jazz, losing a spot in the NBA playoffs and ending their season. For the past 22 straight seasons, the Spurs had made it through to the postseason games, dating back to the 1996-97 season.
"It means a lot to a lot of people probably, but I don’t dwell a lot on the past," Coach Gregg Popovich told reporters after the loss, per Sports Illustrated. "That stuff’s totally [not] important; what’s important is the moment you do what you’ve got to do then you move on. But looking at the past doesn’t do much good."
According to USA Today, the Spurs, over the course of their more-than-two-decade streak, claimed five NBA Championships: in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014.
"I couldn't care less about [the streak]," said Popovich, 71. "I’m thrilled at the way they played here. They had no shot to get into this thing and basically willed themselves into it to have this opportunity. The development of the young kids largely playing the way they did, this is the best we’ve played all year. I’ve really enjoyed it."
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During the game's broadcast, TNT included a graphic on the screen that put into perspective just how long it has been since the Spurs weren't in contention for the playoffs. "Last time Spurs were not in the playoffs …" read the graphic, USA Today reported, with circa-1997 answers like: Bill Clinton being in the White House; Tiger Woods winning his first Masters; and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone first hitting bookshelves.
The late Kobe Bryant also made his NBA debut in the 1996-97 season. At 18 years, 72 days old, Bryant set the record at the time for being the youngest player to play in an NBA game.
Now, the longest ongoing playoffs attendance streak is with the Houston Rockets, currently heading into their eighth straight year, according to NBA.com.
The outlet also specified that the Spurs' last losing season in 1996-97 was the year Popovich came on as head coach midway through the season, and the year before eventual star Tim Duncan was drafted No. 1 in 1997.
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