Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs low-key superstar, has announced his retirement.
Duncan spent his entire 19-year NBA career with the perennial playoff/title-contending Spurs and evidently had no interest in a Kobe Bryant-type retirement tour.
In late June, Duncan, 40, quietly opted into a one-year contract option, which was a formality, but informed the team that he was actually undecided about continuing his pro basketball career.
The Spurs selected Duncan, who grew up in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, as the first pick in the 1997 NBA Draft after a stellar four-year career at Wake Forest University.
Considered perhaps the greatest power forward of all time, Duncan is a five-time NBA champion, a three-time NBA Finals MVP, a two-time NBA MVP, and an NBA Rookie of the Year. He qualified for the NBA All-Star team 15 times.
As guided by head coach Gregg Popovich, and along with longtime teammates Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, Tim Duncan was a cornerstone of the sustained excellence and stability of the Spurs year after year, unprecedented by today’s transient sports culture. With Duncan, the Spurs compiled a 1072-438 regular season record, “the best 19-year stretch in NBA history and tops in the four major U.S. sports over the past 19 years,” ESPN noted.
“The Spurs have enjoyed unprecedented success during Duncan’s tenure with the club. San Antonio has made the playoffs every year of Duncan’s career, and won 50-plus games in all but one of those seasons,” Sports Illustrated detailed.
The Spurs won 67 regular season games in the 2015-2016 campaign, only six less than the record-setting 73 victories posted by the Golden State Warriors. The Spurs only lost one home game last season, that to the Warriors.
The superstar “shot.506 (10,285-20,334) from the floor and.696 (5,896-8,468) from the free throw line,” the Spurs’ press release about Tim Duncan’s retirement explained. Tim Duncan is also the only player in NBA history to log more than 9,000 minutes in the NBA playoffs.
The Spurs captured the NBA title in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014. Duncan is apparently the only NBA player to win titles in three different decades.
“Duncan finishes his career with averages of 19.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.2 blocks per game. He ranks 14th all time in points (26,496), sixth in rebounds (15,091) and fifth in blocks (3,020),” ESPN added.
Duncan’s Spurs lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals in May in six games. The Thunder went on to lose to the Golden State Warriors in a seven-game series after blowing a 3-1 advantage. Duncan had 19 points, five rebounds, and one blocked shot in what turned out to be his final game.
The Warriors themselves went on to blow a 3-1 advantage over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, which was at least partially the result of the Draymond Green suspension. “How appropriate for Duncan to go out not in a spectacle of media crush and celebrities, but in a hard-fought playoff series. It says everything about his career and his legacy,” SBNation declared.
Since then, former OKC superstar Kevin Durant shocked the sports world by signing a free-agent contract with the rival Warriors.
According to the Sporting News, the Spurs made contingency plans in the event that Tim Duncan would call it a career.
“The Spurs signed Pau Gasol last week amid speculation that Duncan would be calling it quits this summer. Duncan, 40, averaged 8.6 and 7.3 rebounds per game last year, both career worsts, and looked lost in a postseason series against the Thunder. San Antonio’s new era has been ushered in over the last few seasons with Kawhi Leonard emerging as a star and LaMarcus Aldridge joining the team, but this makes it seem even more real. Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich won 1,001 games together, the most in NBA history. Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili also hold the record for most regular season (575) and postseason (126) wins ever by three teammates.”
[Photo by Eric Gay/AP]