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February 28, 2023 14 mins

Sean Elliott takes us inside his journey from Tucson, Arizona to the San Antonio Spurs. Sean begins sharing when his passion for basketball started and when he knew he could play basketball collegiately. Later, Sean talks about breaking Kareem's PAC-10 scoring record and then he shares why he was surprised to be drafted by the Spurs. Sean finishes up discussing what made the 1999 season special and the legacy of the Spurs.

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Speaker 1 (00:08):
Welcome to another of SOUNDI Spurs Podcast. My name is
Bill shown In, a long time radio voice of the Spurs.
Half the Weak possibly do the SOUNDI Spurs podcast about
having number thirty two in your program, number one in
your heart on the show out, of course is Sean Elliott,
the author of the Memorial Day Miracle. Great to have you,
This is fun. It's about the time you've been ignoring

(00:30):
me all year. My feelings are actually getting hurt. Are
they really wanted to make sure we've got Antonio Daniels
before you? Yeah? Yeah, because when we think of a
great color analysts around the league, yeah, everybody else asign
as a day. Yeah, not even because I don't even
know where to start set, But let's start at the
beginning to side Arizona. When did your passion for basketball,
Rover start? Oh? Wow, Well, I had a passage for

(00:52):
all sports that that was my biggest thing. That played baseball.
Was a soccer player around track played basketball, and I
kind of dabbled in basketball for a while until I
got to about my freshman year in high school, and
so that's when I really started to focus on basketball
more than anything. Gave up track at baseball just really

(01:13):
enjoying being in the gym and we just playing the game,
and that's when I really got the boat. Did you
have a growth spurt at that time, No, it was
I was pretty solid throughout high school. So I started
high school about five to eleven and just grew about
two inches every year until I was about six seven,
almost six eight at the end of my senior year.
Whether you realize, hey, I've got a chance to get
a scholarship and a good school to fight keep this up.

(01:36):
I think about the time, maybe the end of my
sophomore year, where I've really improved that year. I wasn't
a guy who played from a varsity all four years
like so many of these only young guys now. So
I got promoted to varsity at the end of my
sophomore year, and I said, hey, you know, it's a
pretty big deal. That was a big deal back then.
And then when I started off next year as a junior,

(01:57):
at the end of that season, I made I was
captain of the all city team. So at that point
I kind of realized, you know, I had a chance
to do something. But you know, Tucson, Arizona and I
was joking about it all the time that Tucson back
in the eighties was just where you know, scouts went
to Gas up on their way to la or Phoenix.
No one was coming into Tucson to watch kids play basketball.
So I wasn't getting really, you know, that many letters.

(02:20):
I was getting a lot of small schools. I wasn't
getting anything from anybody major. And then lude Olsen went
from the University of Arizona from the University of Iowa.
That was right around the same time, wasn't it. Yeah,
that was right around that time. It was the beginning
of my junior year. And I remember his first press conference,
he said, get your tickets now, because they're going to
be talked to getting I said, what is this? What

(02:40):
is this dude talking about? Like, honestly, I went to
a game the year before where they were four and
twenty four and ended up on the second world from
the Mills gleads, and there was no when there were
two or three hundred people at the game. So I
couldn't figure out why he said that. But then at
the end of the year, sure enough, the place was
packed and he had a really kind of hard to
heart with you, right. He was one of the he

(03:01):
wanted you to be one of the guys that helped
build a program. He did a lot of hard to
hearts of me over the years, I gotta tell you,
But at the time, they you know, they even told
me later on, they were like, yeah, we knew that
you had potentially we were a good player. We just
didn't know how good you're go to be. And so
it wasn't like I was the safer. It wasn't like

(03:22):
that by any means. You know, happened to make the
McDonald's All American Team my senior year, so I think
they got a little bit of an inkling and the
same thing we got to add player coming in. But
if it wasn't like I was one of these, now
these five starting fruits and this guy's is going to
come in the seat. But your college curse amazing. One
of the great things I've enjoyed about doing the show
is visiting with guys doing a little research on them.

(03:43):
Even though you and I are friends, I still know
everything about you, and I didn't realize that during your
college career you broke drama dul Jabbar Blue all senders
record is scoring in the Pac ten. So to defeat
any kind of record held by dream At Dul Jabbar
answered a pass. That's been a really special moment for me.
Who was great. You know, you gotta remember though Kareem

(04:05):
only got to play three years because he was you
couldn't play as a pressman when he came in. But nonetheless,
I mean, you're passing blue as cinder. Kareem all build Jabar.
You know, one of the greatest ever played the game.
So I don't care if you did it in half
a season and I did it in fourth. I was still,
you know, thrilled to be able to surpass his record,

(04:26):
right well, you know, and then of course you have
this great career and everybody looks like, Okay, this guy's
gonna be a top five pick. When did you have
an inkland that the Senna tell me on Spurs, we're
interested in you and you may end up in the
Alaba city where they calling my name. I'm drafting. I
talked to every other team around the Spurs, but the
Spurs and I had no idea. A matter of fact,

(04:48):
when san Antonio came up, Miami was fourth. I gone
visited Miami. They told me that if I was there
and they're gonna take one, and they were gonna pay
me the number one money. So I was like, all right,
I'm ready Toto in Miami, and sure enough, San Antonio
calls my name. Didn't know the coach, didn't know, the owner,
didn't know that kie manager, you know, but the first

(05:10):
for years had been my team. But I didn't know
anything about being like that. But it was very good
that you got to go to a warm weather sitting
because for those of us to travel with you over
the last twenty two years, we know that you do
not like the cold. Has that been a lifelong day
or is that just after you started traveling a while
you realize I do not like cold. Webb, No, I

(05:31):
grew up in Tucson. I mean when I tried to
explain to people, mean my winners were seventy degrees seventy five,
I mean that was winter time. They got to forty
degrees in Tucson. People are losing their minds, the cities
ready to shut down. So you know, winners at seventy
five summers. I was playing outside lots of times. Would

(05:52):
it be one hundred and ten hundred and twelve threes outside?
So you know, like I tell my friends on the lizzard,
I love the heat, you know, being out works cold
and Undy come a cup of team going well, you
know what, you end up in San Antonio and another
guy comes along, David Robinson at the same time, right,
what was like to go in with him, especially for
the anticipation, not that people weren't already happy and half

(06:14):
shot Elliott come to the Spurs, but they didn't wait
for two years on the number one pit. So how
did that dynamic work? Who worked out well? Because David
and I knew each other from the USA team in
the nineteen eighty six the last amateur team by the
way to win to build a level. We were both
on that team, so we became Crimson and then we
have spent some time together on the during the Olympic trials,

(06:38):
about six or eight weeks together. So I was summary
premier with David knew Dy and he was a you
know for us. We got along, suppinded thege, you know,
there was no issues and we really enjoyed being around
each other, and you know, I just thought it was
a terrific opportunity for me to be a dB to
play them part of the biggest turnaround at that point
in NBA history in terms of a team that struggled

(06:59):
to a team there was a playoff team. Uh. Did
you feel the excitement that rookie year and that the
fans are going from a team that wasn't very good
to a team that was contented. You could feel it.
You could feel the excitement. You know. Obviously I didn't
know anything about the year before and the record. Um,
but when I when I got there, Dave got there.
You know, they made a trade that got Terry Cummings.

(07:19):
I thought when we were loaded, I mean you have
Williamerson was a great player, and we had another trade
to get lots trickling. Uh. And we started off with
No Cheeks, who I grew up watching No Cheeks. I
mean I was a Sixers fan. I was a die
hard Sixers fan. So Mo Cheeks was like, oh my god,
you played with Cheeks? Yeah. And uh and Caldwell Jones
by the way, So that that tells you. So we

(07:41):
don't know how old Caldball was when he was playing, right,
Who knows old gold Roll been a rep from the
Albany State. By the way, he was out for long.
Did you had some vets? Obviously, but you know that
that young influx of you and David really kind of
shame to change things. And that was at the Hemisphere Arena. Yeah,
that seems like another world ago that. I mean, that
was a long time. It really was and a great place.
I mean, I I love the atmosphere at the ATMT

(08:03):
Center in the place just rocking. But I think the
old timers more what the Hemisphere was like. I've been
involved with some of the lotestcis. We had an exhibition
game there one season and we were down twenty two
to the Dallas Mavericks. So we came back to win
the game. You would have thought that we were in
the NBA Finals. That's how Louder was. Places going absolutely
mouths now. The players and other teams complained about the

(08:25):
baseline bumps, do you because we've got a couple of
spurs throughout the years or throughout the podcast here, I said,
you know what, fact I think it was James Silas said,
Julia Serving really didn't like up in San Antonio because
of the baseline bumps. Well, you gotta remember those were
the days where people that the Hecklers could be right
there on the sidelines, are you know, one or two

(08:46):
rose up and they had a whole section right there,
and they just harassed people and they got in everybody's heads,
and so that was a great thing. You know, I
wasn't familiar with the baseline Bumps until I got to Santatario.
Didn't know anything about him. And then you know, you
come out and you're playing the game. You know, one
of those people in that section doing over. We're going crazy.

(09:06):
But it now to you know, that's a tramit disadvantage
for us at the time because you get people kind
of out of swords. You know when you said Julius
Irving didn't like playing there, Well, he's running up down
the court when they're yelling at him. That's in his
head a little bit, and it's in everybody's head comes
in there and it takes him out of their games again.
And that's one of the unique things about San Antonio
and the love affair of the the city has with

(09:28):
the Spurs is that it is the biggest thing in
town and that has happened for now fifty years. Sean.
It's amazing because all year long we've been talking about
this in this big celebration, but everyone from around the league,
and you've seen the docum series that like a Grillo,
a record broadcasts put together. It's not just the Spurs celebrating.
There are people around the league that really admire what

(09:48):
has happened in San Antonio the last fifty years. But
I think we're good breezing h You know, you look
at the entire history with Red McCombs and Angelo Drosis
and the way they took it each risk financially risk
to bring that team to San Antonio, and then you know,
they had to run it on pretty much like the
Hues stream budget because it's a small market or not

(10:11):
the Lakers or the Celtics or their Bows or some
of these other teams that are printing money in the basement.
You know, we that team had to you know, kind
of run really on the markets. So they did a
phenomenal job. They did a great job growing the business,
assembling you know, good talent, and then to have Pop

(10:31):
in our seacomb in the mid nineties to take that
over and then elevated to the next level. It was
really something. I mean, I think it's something that you're
not going to see again in professional sports. And you
got to go through all that and those growing pains
are early the struggles that getting close to the playoffs,
not getting over the humble, yeah, and all that frustration

(10:52):
leads up to the ninety behind season. That's pretty amazing
and that's what made it. The ninety nine seasons is
special because you know, we should have gone to the finals.
In eighty nine ninety we lost to the Coltony Trail
Blazers in the game seven and overtime. We should have
won that series. Should ninety four ninety five against the
Houston Rockets. We beat them four out of five times

(11:16):
in the regular season and beat them in the preseason,
so we beat them five out of six before meeting
them in the playoffs. We have to know the lost
at the series. The next year, we have the best
record the league in lost here in Utah and six,
and so we continue to tease our fans throughout the years.
You know, we have the best record league. We have
a lot of potential of you fail in the playoffs.

(11:38):
We don't get over and helpful. In ninety nine, it
was our time, and I think all the players on
that team since they and you were injured a little bit,
weren't you during that ninety seven ninety eighth season, Right,
You're gonna have a fully happy years self, right, you
feel better going into that ninety nine season help wise, Yeah,
well I missed the second half of both those seasons. Well,
have a knee surgery on one, nee surgery on the other.
Pretty much. I kind of like what Devin Bassell had.

(12:01):
But they just had to go in there and clean
my knees out each one each season. And so going
into that ninety eight ninety nine season, I had rehabbed
a ton of time. And I remember one game as uson,
I made a backdoor kind of navy you passed the ball,
I just exploded and dunkedin. When I got to the bench,
he said, I don't know what you've been doing, but

(12:24):
your legs look amazing, and I said, yeah, they feel good.
They feel good, feel good, And I felt like I
was ready, you know for that stretch that was before
I got here. But I admired that team from Afar
because you had all these different characters, like the toughest
of Mario Elliot, the leadership of the Little General, the
athleticism of David Robinson, the smoothness of Sean Elliott. So

(12:45):
all these different things came into place for a championship team.
And did you feel when you finally got going. I
know you got a slow start that season, but once
you got to go, and you guys were a thirty
seven to thirteen in a fifty game season. Yeah, I
was still at six and eight. So we're gonna lose
very many after that. But I can't tell you that
it's about midway through the best season. We all these

(13:05):
celcer discussions happening. We're playing good basketball and we have
two of the best players in the league making the
best overall, and Simmy Dukan. We knew that we just
stayed together, we had a great chance to really through
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(13:52):
Before we wrap it up, I ask everybody that comes
from the bed Business Program the legacy of this organization
through the fifty years, going all the way back to
the ABA, which of course is an important part of
legacy of the organization. But as you go around the
leg and you talk to people about the Spurs, the
impact the Spurs have had. You know, tonight we're in Utah,
real Hardy as the head coach of the Utah Jazz,
we see the Papabitch tree all over the place. What

(14:13):
about your thoughts on the legacy of the Spurs. Well,
I don't have to really talk about hcol ascity about
the legacy of the Spurs because they're impressed with I
won our guys that over the years. You know, just
a classy organization that's committed to their players, that committed
to the community, and more importantly, just committed to a
family type of environment. So you can't say enough about

(14:37):
what these guys have done with your organization, and I
can't believe that I could appalled. Thanks very much for
your time, We appreciate it. Thanks for the recollections, Sean Elliott.
Santa Spurs Podcast presented by self Financial, I'm Bill Schalening,
so long everybody
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