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Tim Duncan’s journey to the Hall of Fame through the eyes of others

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Catching up on some Tim Duncan reading ahead of the HOF Ceremony.

It’s almost a year late and something most basketball fans have known would happen since at least 2003, but Tim Duncan is finally in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

He is a part of arguably the greatest class ever, which also includes Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Rudy Tomjanovich, and Tamika Catchings, among others. As result, Duncan is getting something he otherwise rarely did: media love.

Yaron Weiztman of The Ringer takes a look at how and when the bank shot became his signature move. While the details are hazy, one fact remains the same: it was deadly.

There’s no simple way to summarize Duncan’s brilliance. Those who played with and against him, and coaches who worked with him and faced him, all highlight different strengths. Hall of Fame head coach Larry Brown said, “He just made the right play, every single time.” Al Horford said, “The way he was able to control the game defensively, I’ve just never seen anything like it.” Pau Gasol said, “The only thing that mattered to him was winning.”

But, eventually, they all point to the bank shot. For one, it was deadly. “You knew he was going to take it, but there was nothing you could do about it,” Horford said. “It was like Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar’s] skyhook.’’ But it was more than just Duncan’s trademark shot—it represented everything that made him great.

“The shot reflected him,” said Lon Babby, Duncan’s former agent. “A fundamentally sound shot, one that not many people are interested in, one that’s not glamorous. It reflected so beautifully Tim’s demeanor and personality and respect for the game.”

Jonathon Abrams of the New York Times spoke to a group of people who know Timmy the best about his journey from a quiet swimmer in the Virgin Islands who only took to basketball after Hurricane Hugo destroyed the only Olympic-sized pool on the island to Hall of Famer. Perhaps the funniest story is the first time he went to Sean Elliott’s house after arriving in San Antonio and proceeded to annihilate the unsuspecting “master” of the neighborhood at a game Timmy had never played before:

The first time I met Tim, he came over to the house. I had these big video games there that I used to play, it was Mortal Kombat. I used to beat up on the neighborhood kids. I was like the master.

Tim, he came in and he’s like, “Oh, what’s this?”

I said, “Oh, yeah, come on over here,” thinking I was going to give him a whooping. He proceeded to thoroughly annihilate me. And it was the first time he had played the game and I just could not understand it.

Eric Pinus of Bleacher Report makes a case for Duncan as the GOAT, from longevity to immediate impact, franchise loyalty, and the one thing he even has over the more consensus GOAT Michael Jordan: a consistently much tougher path to the finals against fellow GOAT contenders.

That’s what Duncan did: win—both regularly and almost immediately after joining the league. None of the GOAT contenders (Johnson, Jordan, Bird, Russell, Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James) can boast titles in three decades.

Finally, in one of his few media interviews (outside league requirements) over the years, he sat down with Rachel Nichols of The Jump for an overall enjoyable interview. (Albeit one she maybe has taken some unnecessary flack for asking about LeBron James, whom Tim had told after the 2007 Finals it would be his league soon.)


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