It’s official, San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan has announced that he will retire after 19 seasons with the organization.
Since drafting Duncan, the Spurs won five championships and posted a 1,072-438 regular season record, giving the team a .710 winning percentage, which is the best 19-year stretch in NBA history.
Originally selected by the Spurs as the first overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, Duncan helped San Antonio reach the playoffs in each of his 19 seasons and became the only player in league history to start and win a title in three different decades. 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, an all-time record for most consecutive seasons with a .600 win percentage in the four major U.S. sports.
Aside from going down as the greatest Power Forward in NBA history, there are of course, a number of incredible stories from his legendary career. Here, we’ve picked out 16 of the best of them, let us know in the comments if we are missing any!
1) Tim Duncan’s Legendary Sparring Session
Jesse James Leija is a local San Antonio boxing legend, as a local featherweight and welterweight, he won two world championships. As a promoter, he helped put 39,247 fans in the Alamodome for the Saul “Canelo” Alvarez-Austin Trout fight in April. As a trainer, he helped Tim Duncan lose 25 pounds in the off-season, and improved the conditioning of Duncan’s teammates.
Once, Duncan asked Leija to spar outside the Spurs practice facility in the summer heat.
“It was maybe 90 degrees and we were in the sun for six rounds, close to 30 minutes, non-stop. Just because Tim wanted to go out there. He didn’t have to do this. He’s already a great player. But he wanted to get better. Tim wanted to work harder. I was like, ‘This guy is amazing. This guy is crazy.’ I know why he’s one of the best NBA players ever.”
2) When Tim Duncan Gave Etan Thomas Advice In-Game
Former NBA player Etan Thomas, who played against Duncan during his time in the NBA, shared a great story on him playing against Duncan.
“So we’re playing the Spurs and I get the ball on the post. I inside pivot and sweep to the middle for my jump hook and he blocks it,” Thomas wrote on his Facebook page.
“So as we are running down the court he says to me – ‘that was a good move but you have to get more into my body so you can either draw the foul or I can’t block it’,” Thomas said.
“So I didn’t know if he was talking noise or what so just kind of looked at him confused and said ok. Then, a few plays later I did it again got more into his body and he couldn’t block it,” Thomas said. “I missed the shot and he looked at me and said much better and kept playing.”
“Tim Duncan is honestly one of the nicest guys in the NBA and one of the best power forwards ever. Respect,” said Thomas.
Source: Etan Thomas Facebook
3) Steven Adams Getting Tricked By Mr Nice Guy Tim Duncan
Steven Adams said that when he was a rookie, Duncan, who’s almost 20 years older, played mind games with him. He played “the nice guy card” to get the eager rookie off his back.
“He’s (Tim Duncan) not really crazy athletic but he still destroys you, and he’s a nice guy. That was my biggest mistake as a rookie. I was like hitting him all the time and he was having trouble with it. And then he came over and talked to me a bit. He was like, ‘Hey man, how are you?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, what a nice guy.’ Then he just dropped 20 from there on. I told M.B. (Mark Bryant), and he was like, ‘That’s a vet move. Don’t do that. You can’t be nice.’”
Source: USA Today
4) Why Draymond Green Won’t Trash Talk Tim Duncan
Green is considered one of the best defensive players in the league – he is a finalist for the defensive player of the year award along with Kawhi Leonard – and his trash talk is among the greats currently in the league.
However, Tim Duncan is the only forward Green says he won’t jaw with, partly out of respect and partly because, “You say something to Timmy, he just look at you with that Timmy face like, ‘Wow, you’re talking to me!”
5) Tim Duncan Has No Problem Dealing with Coach Popovich’s Yelling
No one ever seems to quit on Pop no matter how loudly he screams. No one checks out. Pop’s been a yeller since he took over for Bob Hill just 18 games into the 1996-97 season and hasn’t mellowed yet. To this day, though, Pop has the rare privilege of knowing his best player is still willing to step face-first into the coach’s full-throttle spittle if Pop thinks that’s what the team needs to see.
“That’s who Tim Duncan is,” says Hawks coach Budenholzer, having received countless scoldings of his own, like every key Spurs staffer, over the course of his lengthy run as one of Pop’s top assistants.
“Timmy wants to be coached. He wants to be coached to this day.”
6) When Tim Duncan ‘Kicked Kevin Garnett’s Ass’
“Pimp” is perhaps not the first word that comes to mind to describe Tim Duncan, but that’s exactly what Metta World Peace referred to him as after witnessing him match up with Kevin Garnett:
“I remember one time Kevin Garnett was mushing him, and shoving him in the face; and Tim Duncan didn’t do anything, he didn’t react. He just kicked Kevin Garnett’s ass, and won the damn championship. You know what I’m sayin’? That’s gangsta. Everybody can show emotion, dunk on somebody, scream and be real cocky; but Tim Duncan is a … he’s a pimp.”
7) When Steve Kerr Thought It Was All Over
Tim Duncan developed very convincing counters to ward off old age and heavy mileage and what looked to be the beginning of the end in the 2010 playoffs, when the Spurs were swept by Phoenix after tormenting the Steve Nash-led Suns for years.
New Golden State Warriors coach Kerr, who played alongside Duncan for four seasons and was the Suns’ GM at the time, marvels at where Duncan was in those playoffs compared with where he is now after changes to his diet and an even greater commitment in the workout room.
“He was missing easy shots against us,” Kerr recalls. “He just wasn’t himself in that series. It was easy to say, ‘Well, this is it, he’s got one or two years left and he’s going to have to play 25 minutes a game and settle for being a solid player.’ And here he is three years later and he’s All-NBA again.”
8) Sean Elliott on Tim’s Summer Work Ethic
Former teammate and good friend of Duncan, Sean Elliott has always marvelled at Tim Duncan’s work ethic, and once shared this anecdote:
“This guy works so hard in the summertime. You don’t even know. I go to the practice facility about five or six times during the summer to shoot baskets or work out or give someone a tour … and Timmy will be there every time.
“The assistant coaches tell me stories about how they’ll bring in free agents to woo or some of the kids they’re thinking about drafting, they’ll go in and Timmy’s in the gym working out. And they’re like, ‘Tim Duncan is here?’ They’re shocked.
“He’s an anomaly. He’s a big man and a gym rat. That’s an oxymoron. You have a lot of bigs who play because they’re big. Guards play because they love it. Timmy has a guard’s mentality. He has a guard’s passion for the game in a big body. That’s why he’s been so good.”
9) Tim Duncan is More Reliable than a Robot
If Duncan was struggling through the stretch run of the season with a sense that the finish line, like it or not, was fast approaching, Kevin Martin could never tell.
“He does the exact same thing at the exact same time every day,” Martin said. “I remember the game we played in Golden State [in early April]. We got beat pretty bad and Pop was going to rest everybody the next night in Denver, but Timmy wanted to play. The whole rest of the starting five and Manu rested, but Timmy wanted to play on some random [Friday] night.
“He’s more reliable than a robot. He’s always ready to go the next day.”
10) When 16 Year Old Tim Duncan Dominated Alonzo Mourning
After Chris King’s rookie season with the Seattle SuperSonics, his agent, Bob Kingsley, arranged a tour for NBA players to raise money and awareness following a spate of violence in the Virgin Islands. They gathered a ragtag team using any connections they could, and the biggest attraction they landed was Alonzo Mourning, who by that time had become a star.
When the NBA players arrived, word circulated about a 16-year-old, 6-foot-9 center with deft touch who used to be a star swimmer. King grew curious.
“Here comes this long, lanky kid,” King said. “He looked so young.”
Inside a packed gym, Duncan matched up against Mourning. Early on in the game, Duncan caught a pass on the block, turned, squared up and banked a shot in over Mourning. The rest of the night, King said, Duncan “dominated” Mourning. King figured Mourning was going through the motions in a charity game, but Duncan’s performance still blew him away.
“You could see he was a little raw, but you could see he had the touch,” King said. “When I saw him doing that on the low block, it was like, ‘Wow.’ Jump hook. Fade. This one play, I’ll never forget. Alonzo tried to go up. Tim blocked the shot, and he ran the floor like a deer. Someone threw it to him, and he dunked all over Alonzo.
“He’s playing against Alonzo Mourning. He’s 16. He’s dominating this guy. He’s running the floor. He has these great hands. I was like, ‘Oh my god, this kid can play!’ ”
Source: Washington Post
11) Greg Oden Warned of Playing Against Tim Duncan
Greg Oden was interviewed in Dime Magazine in 2007 and was warned about not taking Tim Duncan lightly.
“Everyone’s been telling me that as a big man, no matter how much I prepare myself, you learn your toughest lesson when you go down to San Antonio. The other day [former NBA player and Blazers assistant coach] Monty Williams pulled me aside and told me: “That guy down there” — meaning Tim Duncan — “has had surgery on his left knee. He can only jump about this high [holds his fingers about an inch apart]. He won’t say a word to you, and he will Bust. Your. Ass.”
12) Shaquille O’Neal Couldn’t Get in Tim Duncan’s Head
Shaq and Tim had a number of memorable match-ups over the years, but Shaq says, TD is the one guy he couldn’t get a rise out of.
“The Spurs won because of Tim Duncan, a guy I could never break. I could talk trash to Patrick Ewing, get in David Robinson’s face, get a rise out of Alonzo Mourning, but when I went at Tim he’d look at me like he was bored.”
Source: Express News
13) When Charles Barkley Saw The Future
Having just gone up against a rookie Duncan in pre-season, Charles Barkley, who was an All-Star with Houston at the time had this to say:
“I’ve seen the future and he wears No. 21.”
Source: Express News
14) When He Dropped 22 & 10 on David Robinson, Shaq & Hakeem – When He Was Still in College
In an interview on the Dan Patrick show, David Robinson was asked when he realised how good Tim Duncan was. His response:
“Right away. We played against him when I was with the ’96 Olympic team against the college team. He played against Me, Shaq and Hakeem and he had an easy 22 and 10. I thought WOW, I never watched that kid but he’s pretty good. Then a few months later we were able to draft him and I knew we were in good shape when we drafted him.
“I invited him to my place in colorado and said let’s go workout during the summer and he was PHENOMENAL. I thought Ok, ok, I can see you’re gonna take over. He could score on the block both hands, he is one of the best low post players I’ve ever seen, which I guess people now have learned.”
Source: The Dan Patrick Show
15) Tim Duncan is Small Time
In the fall of 2003, during the Spurs’ preseason training camp, most of the players stayed at a local hotel at the team’s behest. Ferry and Steve Kerr, however, decided to commute from their homes. Both were nearing the end of their careers and had kids. They figured the hotel was intended for the younger players, to keep them in line.
On the third day of camp, Ferry and Kerr pulled up to the practice facility just as the team bus arrived from the hotel. A succession of rookies exited the bus. At the rear was Duncan, six years in the league already. He took one look at Kerr and Ferry. “Wait a second, are you guys staying at home?” Duncan asked, incredulous.
“Yup,” said Kerr.
Duncan’s eyes got wider. “You mean you can do that?”
Ferry stared back at him. “Tim, you’re the league MVP. You can do whatever you want.”
16) Keeping It Cool After Winning the Title With a Ridiculous Line
In arguably one of the greatest games of his career (which many say was actually a quadruple double), he kept it cool in the post-game interview.
After hearing his stat line – in the sixth and final game of the 2003 Finals where he won a championship — 21 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists and eight blocks, he responded.
Source: Express News.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) July 11, 2016
Keep being you, Timmy. #ThankYouTD