It is hard to imagine that such a modest player who rarely made headlines has been retired for seven years. On July 11, 2016, the star who played for the San Antonio Spurs for 20 years finally ended his basketball career. Today, let’s take a look at the Spurs’ franchise player Tim Duncan.
Tim Duncan was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands. His sister Tricia Duncan was a swimmer who competed in the 1988 Olympics. Duncan started swimming at a young age and won the national championship in the 400-meter freestyle for the 12-13 age group, aiming to join the U.S. swimming team for the 1992 Olympics. However, in 1989, Hurricane Hugo swept through the Virgin Islands and destroyed the swimming pool where the team trained. Duncan was afraid of sharks and did not dare to train in the sea, so his swimming training was forced to stop.
If it were not for Hugo, there might have been a 6’11" flying fish in the 2008 Olympics, but that was all in the past. After that, Duncan began to focus on basketball. He enjoyed everything on the basketball court and finally entered Wake Forest University’s psychology department in 1993. In his first game against Alaska University, Duncan did not score a single point. After that, with high-intensity training, Duncan’s performance quickly improved. In his sophomore year, in a game against Wallace University, Duncan scored 25 points. Jerry West, who was watching the game, believed that he would be the No. 1 pick in the 1995 NBA draft, but Duncan had made a promise to his mother who died of cancer when he was 14 that he would “get a degree no matter what”, so he chose to stay in school until graduation. In the next two years, Duncan got a lot of training opportunities and developed an unstoppable offensive ability. He often forced his opponents to use triple-team defense. On the defensive end, Duncan also excelled and won the best defensive player award twice. In 1997, Duncan became the winningest player in Wake Forest history, won the John Wooden Award, and was selected to the NCAA All-American First Team for the second consecutive year. He also became the tenth player in NCAA history to score more than 2,000 points and grab more than 1,500 rebounds, and the first player in NCAA history to have 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 400 blocks and 200 assists.
Who can make the whole league wait for him? Even in his senior year, he still made many people look forward to him. That legendary name is Tim Duncan. He had terrifying numbers and broke countless records. Many coaches and players said during his college career: cherish the games against Wake Forest, you are playing against a future Hall of Famer.
Finally, in 1997, Duncan graduated from college and announced his participation in the NBA draft. The whole league went crazy that year. The scouting report said this about him: “We don’t need to teach him anything anymore. He is a finished product. He is the most complete rookie I have ever seen. He will definitely become a league superstar, even a historical dominant player!” Therefore, a tanking contest for Duncan began.
The historical powerhouse Celtics only won 15 games that season, which was the most disgraceful record in their history. But everyone knew what they were doing. The fans even cheered when the Celtics lost. That was Tim Duncan after all. All losses were worth it. In the end, the Celtics ranked second from the bottom and had a 36.3% chance of getting the No. 1 pick. The Grizzlies ranked last with 14 wins because they were a new team with poor roster depth. It was not so much tanking as it was their true strength. Then the 76ers also joined the tanking race. They had drafted Allen Iverson with the No. 1 pick in 1996, but they were not satisfied. They wanted to get the Iverson plus Duncan combination. Because they had a bad record at the beginning of the season, they increased their tanking in the last 11 games of the season. They only won one game. The strongest one was the Spurs, who had the best record in the previous season. They started their show by firing their head coach Hill and promoting Popovich. Then they announced that their star Robinson broke his foot and would be out from two months to the end of the season. The Spurs had four starters injured that season. At the end of the season, the Spurs had a 21.4% chance of getting the No. 1 pick. In the draft lottery, the Grizzlies got the fourth pick, the Celtics got the fifth pick, the 76ers got the second pick, and the Spurs were the luckiest ones. They did not hesitate to pick Duncan, who changed the landscape of the league for the next 20 years and started the Spurs dynasty. The Celtics’ owner Auerbach knew that Duncan was the hope of the team’s revival, and called Popovich several times, offering any player or draft pick in exchange for the No. 1 pick, but he was rejected by Popovich. The Celtics’ coach felt that he was too old and retired in tears.
How strong was Duncan that the Spurs treated him like this? He had completely dominated Robinson, the Spurs’ star, in a college game. The Spurs endured a season and their star voluntarily gave up his tactical position, in exchange for the team’s cornerstone for 20 years. Then Duncan’s story began.https://www.nikeair1.com/category/new-balance
He was selected as the NBA Rookie of the Year in his rookie season; he won five NBA championships in his career; he was selected as the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) twice; he was selected as the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (FMVP) three times; he was selected to the NBA All-Star Game 15 times (tied for fourth in history); he was selected to the NBA All-Defensive Team 15 times (first in history); he was selected to the NBA All-NBA First Team 10 times (tied for second in history). On May 23, 2013, Duncan had 500 career playoff blocks, becoming the first player in history to do so. On April 6, 2016, Duncan got his 1,000th career regular season win, becoming the third player in history to do so, and the first player to do so with the same team. On July 11, 2016, Duncan announced his retirement, ending his 19-year NBA career. On December 19 of the same year, the Spurs held a jersey retirement ceremony for Duncan’s No. 21 jersey after a home game against the Pelicans. On July 23, 2019, the Spurs officially announced that Duncan became an assistant coach of the team. On April 5, 2020, Duncan was officially elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. On November 12 of the same year, Duncan left the Spurs’ coaching staff. On May 16, 2021, the Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the class of 2020 was officially held, and Duncan officially entered the Hall of Fame. In October of the same year, Duncan was selected as one of the NBA’s 75 greatest players.https://www.nikeair1.com/category/air-jordan
Conclusion: Some people may say that Duncan’s career was so great because of Popovich, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, who deserve half of the credit. But I want to say that for a small-market team like the Spurs, they can draft another Parker or another Ginobili, but it is very hard to draft another Duncan. How far is the road to revival for the team? Let’s see how this year’s No. 1 pick performs.