With the recent news of Tim Duncan retiring, there is no better time to take a look back at the career of one of the best (and most underappreciated) players in NBA history. He was never flashy or cocky, but what he accomplished on the court can never be under minded or ignored. Here I will take a look at his career and how he helped the Spurs be the gold standard for NBA teams over the last few decades.
Tim Duncan had an interesting basketball career right from the start. Unlike most players who grow up loving the sport, Duncan’s first athletic love was actually swimming. He was also very good at it and had goals of making the 1992 U.S Olympic team He only turned to basketball (in the ninth grade) once his town in the Virgin Island’s only Olympic sized pool was destroyed by a hurricane, and he was too scared of sharks to swim in open water.
While it took him some adjusting and growing pains to get used to the game of basketball, he soon became a standout player at his high school. A number of universities showed interest in the big man, but he ultimately decided to go to Wake Forest and join the Demon Deacons. While in college, he dominated for four straight years (breaking numerous blocking and rebounding records), despite many people electing to leave college early for the NBA. His reason for staying is because he promised his mother he would get a degree.
After graduating, he decided to enter the 1997 NBA draft, where the San Antonio Spurs made him the first overall pick. He immediately made an impact on the team as he averaged over 20 points and 10 rebounds as a rookie, a feat that is not very common at all. Not only that, but he went on to average over 20/10 for his first 8 years of his career and hovered right around it for the remainder of his career. While he didn’t play in a flashy manner, these consistent numbers made him one of the best players in the league for decades. Throughout his career, he was a two time MVP, 15 time All Star and made 10 All NBA First Teams.
Now that we know about Duncan and his individual accomplishments, lets take a look at what he did for the Spurs during his near 20 years with the team. During his tenure with the Spurs, he helped them to win 5 NBA Titles and helped them to 17 straight 50+ win seasons, which is the longest streak in league history. He also made the playoffs in each and every year of his 19 year career and is only one of three players to win over 1,000 games in their careers.
The Spurs have been the model for all sports for two decades now and perhaps the biggest reason for this was Tim Duncan, who will surely go down as a top 10 (or better) NBA player in history, without question.