One of the top NBA franchises in the last few decades, the San Antonio Spurs have hosted some terrific players in their history. However, like the Spurs themselves, most of the the top rookie cards from the team are largely under-the-radar in terms of value or recognition. Despite this, their fan base continues to grow and the team represents one of the better overall options for budget basketball collectors. The following guide takes a look at the top overall rookie cards for the San Antonio Spurs.
The list counts down some of the all-time greats from the franchise, including several Hall of Famers and some of the top players in NBA history. Given that the ranking covers several collecting periods, but mostly modern cards, the rank is based largely on the overall player relevance.
Top San Antonio Spurs Rookie Cards
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A solid performer for the Spurs during much of the 1990s, Vinny Del Negro is now more known for his coaching career. His rookie card in 1989-90 Hoops is a cheap option made even more inexpensive thanks to the massive prints runs of the era.
With just two seasons on the team, it is hard to put Dennis Rodman much higher on the list. However, he did lead the league in rebounds both years and Rodman's Hall of Fame career makes him an appealing option in San Antonio despite his short stay. His 1988-89 Fleer rookie is still popular but normally goes for budget prices.
Largely remembered for his clutch shooting for several top teams, "Big Shot Rob" was especially big in the 2005 playoffs, and was a huge reason the Spurs won Game 5 of the Finals. Because of the this, Robert Horry will always have a special place in San Antonio. Collectors have several rookie options among 1992-93 products and all are cheap.
Johnny Moore was the Spurs primary point guard during the 1980s and led the NBA in assists in 1982. Moore's efficient stat line and overall career with San Antonio resulted in his number being retired by the team. Collectors can find his rookie in 1981-82 Topps. The product was actually distributed by region and the Johnny Moore card was only found in the Mid-West release.
While he is more associated with the Chicago Bulls, Artis Gilmore spent several strong seasons with the Spurs. He was named to two All-Star teams while in San Antonio and was one of their top big men of the 1980s. Gilmore's rookie is part of the colorful 1972-73 Topps release.
One of the all-time leaders for the Spurs in per-game scoring, Mike Mitchell played a prominent role for the team in the 1980s. Several of his rookies are available in the 1980-81 Topps product that is famed for its trio card format.
A successful player for several seasons with the Spurs, Larry Kenon was a two-time NBA All-Star and one-time ABA All-Star during his five years in San Antonio. His rookie card is the first of several key options from 1974-75 Topps.
A standout on defense, Alvin Robertson was named to three All-Star teams while with the Spurs and was the Most Improved Player in 1985-86. He also led the NBA in steals for two years with San Antonio and is still the all-time NBA leader in steals per game average. Although his official rookie did not come until 1986-87 Fleer, collectors can find his first NBA card in 1984-85 Star.
One of the only youthful names to note for the Spurs, Kawhi Leonard could see his name jump way higher on this list depending on how the rest of his career plays out. Regardless, his success in the playoffs combined with his 2013-14 Finals MVP makes him noteworthy already. Kawhi Leonard has a large amount of rookie options and his top card is from the high-end 2012-13 National Treasures.
A frequent flier for NBA teams, Avery Johnson had three different stints in San Antonio. Johnson was integral to the team's 1998-99 title and his number was later retired. Avery Johnson's rookie in 1990-91 Skybox is a nice reminder that colorful designs are not always a good thing.
Part of three titles in San Antonio, Bruce Bowen was an elite defender and was named to five consecutive NBA All-Defensive First Teams. His number was later retired by the team. As an undrafted player who started his pro career in France and with the CBA, Bruce Bowen only has one rookie card and it was released in his third NBA season.
James Silas was part of the franchise's transition from the Dallas Chaparrals to the San Antonio Spurs and was a two-time ABA All-Star with the team. Silas remains among the all-time leaders in several statistical categories for the Spurs and was the first player to have his number retired by the team. Like most of the players on the list, his1974-75 Topps rookie is very inexpensive.
Despite a small stop in Detroit in the middle of his career, Sean Elliott was a Spur for nearly a decade. The two-time All-Star won a title with San Antonio and is remembered fondly by the fan base. Elliott's 1990-91 Fleer rookie is fairly bland and in good supply.
One of the best second-round picks in NBA history, Manu Ginobili has won four NBA titles with the Spurs and was selected to two All-Star teams. Part of the trio that carried San Antonio throughout the 2000s, Ginobili has earned a special place with the Spurs franchise. Collectors have a solid amount of choices when it comes to Manu Ginobili rookie cards, but his signed cards are the most popular.
Another international player with the Spurs, Tony Parker could even give number three on this list a run for his money thanks to his elite play for the team. An important part of all four title squads, Parker was the 2006-07 Finals MVP and is a six-time All-Star. Like Ginobili, Tony Parker has multiple rookie cards but his signed cards are the top options, especially his 2001-02 SP Authentic rookie.
The "Ice Man" did not win any NBA championships, but George Gervin was was the first real star for the Spurs and a prolific scorer, leading the league in scoring four times. The nine-time All-Star is considered one of the greatest shooting guards in league history and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. His 1974-75 Topps rookie is one of best HOF budget options.
A lifelong Spur, David Robinson is remembered as one of the top centers in NBA history. "The Admiral" was an ten-time All-Star and won two titles with the Spurs. Given the supply and low value now, it is hard to think that his 1989-90 Hoops rookie card once had a counterfeit issue, but he was a top draw for collectors in the early-1990s.
Like so many on the list, Tim Duncan made his legacy with strong play and minimal flash. Now the greatest Spur of all-time, Duncan has slowly built his standing in the hobby and can still go further depending on how many seasons he has left. With only base rookie options available, collectors prefer his 1997-98 Topps Chrome card and Refractors can see very strong values.