The day is really here, Tim Duncan announced Monday (July 11) after a stellar 19 year career in the NBA, he’s retiring. The Spurs lifer did it in the most Tim Duncan way possible, through a press release, leaving as quietly as only he could. It’s tough to imagine an NBA without two of its biggest stars over the past two decades in Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan, but that is the reality we are going to face going forward into next season. Those two guys embodied what being an NBA superstar is all about, while playing 19 and 20 seasons with one team, which is something we may never see again.
My first memory of Tim Duncan was seeing him decimate my New York Knicks as they made an improbable run to the NBA finals. He was unstoppable, averaging 27 points and 14 rebounds over the five game series, Kurt Thomas had no answer for him. As the Knicks were held scoreless in the last 3 minutes of the heart-wrenching game 5 defeat 78-77. Duncan took home the Finals MVP and his first championship as a 22-year-old in his second season. You knew this was just the tip of the iceberg for the future Hall-of-Famer.
The big fundamental departs from the game with a long resume that includes being a 5x Champion, 3x Finals MVP, 15x All-Star, and a 2x NBA MVP. Averaging a double-double for 13 consecutive seasons, Duncan leaves as the greatest power forward of all-time and a top 10 player, hands down. He formed one of the greatest big man duos with “The Admiral” David Robinson, known as the “Twin Towers.” Playing for only one coach in his NBA career, Duncan and Gregg Popovich will go down as the most successful player-coach tandem in history, with 1,001 wins to their name.
The Silver and Black won at least 50 games the last 17 seasons, the longest streak in league history, and posted at least a .600 winning percentage in each of Duncan’s 19 seasons with the team, an all-time record for most consecutive seasons with a .600 win percentage in the four major U.S. sports.
The first overall pick in the 1997 NBA draft helped build a small market team in Texas into a dynasty, always going about his business quietly, while doing things the “right way”. The Spurs are the true model of consistency in sports, which can get taken for granted at times, posting a 1,072-438 regular season record since drafting Duncan. As a Knicks fan, I know how tough it is to win year in and year out in this league. I’ve always admired the “Spur Way” from afar.
I will never forget his performance last year (April 2015) in the playoff series against the Clippers. As a 39-year-old, Duncan went toe to toe with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds in the 7 game series. I was in awe as Tim turned back the clock, attempting to power his Spurs to one more playoff series win with multiple unforgettable performances.
It’s the end of an era in San Antonio, as the big three of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Duncan will never be whole again. The trio holds the NBA record for most wins by a trio in both the regular season (575) and postseason (126). The Wake Forest graduate leaves the Spurs as the franchise leader in points, rebounds, blocks, minutes and games played.
There will never be another Tim Duncan, a legend like no other.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) July 11, 2016