Tim Duncan, the face of the NBA‘s San Antonio Spurs for nearly the past two decades, has decided to retire after 19 seasons. The “Big Fundamental” is a first-ballot lock for the Hall of Fame, and remains one of the most decorated big men to ever play the game.
From the San Antonio Spurs’ website:
San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan today 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 and was the best in all of the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB over the last 19 years.
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.
The 40-year-old Duncan comes off of a season in which he led the NBA in Defensive RPM (5.41) and became just the third player in league history to reach 1,000 career wins, as well as the only player to reach 1,000 wins with one team. He helped the Spurs to a franchise-best 67-15 record and also became one of two players in NBA history to record at least 26,000 points, 15,000 rebounds and 3,000 blocks in his career (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).
While Duncan was not a commercial cash machine due to his stoic,business-like nature, few could rival his abilities on the court. With a measured balance of strength and grace, Duncan’s teams played without ego and all deferred to the wisdom of Head Coach and General Manager, Gregg Popovich.
The Wake Forest University graduate is a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands and his sport of choice as a young man was swimming, and he once had hopes he’d follow in an older sister’s footsteps by competing in the Olympic Games. Although he was reportedly unskilled when he picked up the game of basketball as a teen, he quickly learned the game and his physical gifts blossomed in college.
Duncan has an impressive legacy that will possibly stand the test of time. He is the Spurs’ all-time leader in total points, rebounds, blocks, minutes and games played. He is also a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player recipient and a three-time NBA Finals MVP winner.
Reaction to Duncan’s retirement is growing on social media, and we’ve collected some of the many tributes and reactions to come for the beloved player.
Congratulations to Tim Duncan.
Photo: By Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA – Tim Duncan, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14930160