Tim Duncan is the GOAT. He’s the greatest basketball player to ever wear a San Antonio Spurs uniform and arguably one of the greatest power forwards off all time. (According to Metta World Peace, he’s two of the greatest two players in NBA history “Prove to me that Tim Duncan is not top two players of all time.”)
Syntax error aside, Timothy Theodore Duncan is all set to amble up to the podium to join the ranks of the greatest players when he is inducted into the Naismith Basketball hall of Fame this weekend.
Today we take a look back at our beloved generational player.
Tim’s name was called first in the 1997 draft. The Wake Forest standout and 1997 NCAA rebounding leader originally thought he would end up in Boston, but the luck of the Irish was not to be found and Timmy made San Antonio his home.
Tim was honored with the Rookie of the Year award at the end of his first season, showing off his trademark “enthusiasm” upon receiving the trophy.
The following season, Duncan led the San Antonio Spurs to their first NBA Championship in 1999’s lockout season, leaving many (including Phil “kiss my asterisk” Jackson) to think it was a fluke. Watching the Los Angeles Lakers three-peat over the next season certainly didn’t help.
But titles followed. 2003 against the New Jersey Nets when Duncan knocked on the door of a quadruple-double, 2005 in the seven-game nail-biter versus the Detroit Pistons, the 2007 whopping of a young LeBron James’ Cleveland cavaliers, and 2014: the sweetest of them all.
When Duncan held out his arms, he invited all who had stood by the San Antonio Spurs throughout the 2013 Finals and into the historic 2014 postseason to partake in the celebration. He claimed victory for all of us. He had come full circle from the young, top Spurs player to the elder statesman, passing the torch and setting up the next generation.
Overall Duncan was named Finals MVP three times in 1999, 2003, and 2005.
In between those first and second titles, Tim Duncan racked up back-to-back NBA MVP honors in 2002 . . .
. . .and again in 2003.
Awards and accolades aside, Tim knew how to pack a highlight reel.
By far, Tim’s greatest shot is his first made three of the 2008 season, which came in the final seconds of overtime against the Phoenix Suns. This lone long-distance shot put the game into a second overtime that turned the tides of Game 1 and possibly the series.
Duncan wasn’t known for his three-point prowess, but he was known as a big man making shots in the paint. He didn’t typically tear the paint off the rim whenever a bank shot would suffice. However, Tim Duncan’s most exciting dunk came against the Milwaukee Bucks in the regular season in 2001 as the young TD threw down a sick dunk after a sweet baseline alley-oop inbound pass.
When Spurs fans think of James Harden losing a game due to a block, we often conjure up the memory of Manu stopping The Beard’s shot from behind during Game 5’s overtime in the 2017 Western Conference Semifinals.
But this block by Duncan to keep Harden from stealing a win from the Silver & Black is one of the best.
And of course, Duncan rebounded. But sometimes, he was a little more artistic in his presentation. Check out this stat stuffing “rebound” from the 1:15-1:30 marks in this Duncan retrospective:
On and off the court, Tim was a quiet man. His expressionless demeanor was noted by many, even being parodied in a Foot Locker commercial.
The thing about quiet men is that one tends to listen when they finally speak. By far, Duncan’s boldest statement came at the end of the overtime Game 6 win in Oklahoma City that sent the San Antonio Spurs back to the NBA Finals to face the Miami Heat.
“We got four more to win. We’ll do it this time.”
Duncan’s most telling behind-the-scenes moment came when he met with Doc Rivers and the Orlando Magic while considering a move during the 2000 offseason. According to Bruce Bowen, one word sealed the deal against the Magic.
“When Tim went out to meet with Orlando, he asked this question- ‘can family come on the flights to some games?’ and from what I understand, Doc said ‘no’ and that’s where he lost Tim Duncan.”
Timmy’s sense of family and the relationship he had established with men like Gregg Popovich and David Robinson convinced him to stay in his comfort zone.
And we are all the more grateful for that.
Did we all know this was the last time Tim Duncan would exit?
He left the court in Oklahoma, retired and emerged later that winter to have his number displayed in the AT&T Center as part of the history of great players to contribute in San Antonio.
And just for laughs, here’s The Big Fundamental’s greatest ejection:
Oh, so many reasons to celebrate Tim Duncan, and without a doubt, a player worthy of this weekend’s accolade with a list as long as this:
- 15× NBA All-Star
- 2000 NBA All-Star Game MVP
- 10× All-NBA First Team
- 3× All-NBA Second Team
- 2× All-NBA Third Team
- 8× NBA All-Defensive First Team
- 7× NBA All-Defensive Second Team
- 2015 NBA Teammate of the Year
For what it is worth, my personal favorite Tim Duncan moment was repetitive. Once he accepted his role as the leader of the team and took the weight of the world onto his shoulders, he would forever remain the last player to leave the court. Sometimes waiting under the basket, out of the spotlight, in the darkening spot under the basket, while one of his teammates finished a post-game interview. Then, and only then, would he exit the court as the last man.
Please continue to share your favorite Tim Duncan moments in the chat.
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