Puff Daddy and Mase topped the Billboard Hot 100 with their sensational song “Can’t Ask Ask Hold Me Down” the last time the San Antonio Spurs lost in the NBA playoffs.
That’s been a long time – in the 1996-1997 season.
The latest buzz sounded Thursday night with the Utah Jazz in charge of the San Antonio 118-112, officially eliminating the Spurs from squabbles over a Western Conference venue and ending their record-breaking 22 consecutive appearances after the season.
“It means a lot to a lot of people for sure but I do not dwell on the past,” said legendary Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who grabbed five NBA titles during that period. “These things are absolutely [not] important, what is important is the moment you do what you have to do, then you move on, but looking at the past does not do very well. “Any success we have had has been because we have had some great players.”
Spurs entered Thursday night’s game after winning three in a row, despite being predicted to be long shots in play, entering the NBA’s WBA Disney World bubble. Victories by the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns ahead of Thursday’s peak officially eliminated San Antonio’s elimination, but the Spurs managed to stay in contention right up until the end.
“I’m more enthusiastic about this than everything you’m talking about now, successes or not successes, because the success for the ribbons or whatever heck you’re talking about is over,” Popovich said. “I might be less interested in that. I’m excited by the way they played here.”
He praised the core effort of the young players after the resumption in the vicinity of reaching the play-off round, which starts on Saturday and matches the No. 8 squad against the No.9 team.
“They had no shots to get into this and would basically want to have this opportunity themselves,” he added. “Developing young kids mostly by playing the way they did, this is the best we’ve played all year. I really enjoyed it.”
Spurs defender DeMar DeRozan said eliminating the team was difficult to swallow.
“I could live with the fact if we were going to get out there and it had to come down to us winning or losing and we lost,” he said. “I can accept it a little more than seeing other teams playing and their beginners not really playing and giving the other team a chance to win, so it was extremely disappointing.”
According to Elias, 117 active NBA players were born on or after April 20, 1997 – the last day of the Spurs’ 1996-97 season, when they previously missed the playoffs before this season. That includes players from eight teams that were not in the bubble, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
The 22-year-old playoff spot linked the Philadelphia 76ers franchise for the longest in NBA history. The 76ers, starting as the Siracuse Nationals before moving to Philadelphia, went to the playoffs each year from 1950 to 1971.
The Houston Rockets now have the longest active belt after the season in eight seasons.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.