Remembering Tim Duncan

FundamentalsHaving written 400-plus posts about basketball over the last nine years, I felt it would be grossly irresponsible of me not to write a proper tribute to Tim Duncan.

Here’s what Tim Duncan meant to me and to the game of basketball.

I’m not a big season ticket holder guy.  In fact, I’ve only purchased season tickets to a team once and it was the Buccaneers a few years ago.  A good friend of mine who worked for the team was desperately trying to move some tickets and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  I didn’t exactly wake up with a horse’s head in my bed but I did make a profit off the tickets I sold.

Owning season tickets to any team in any sport has never been my thing.  Insert commitment-phobe joke here.  That would have all been different had Tim Duncan come to Orlando.

That’s right.  Tim Duncan almost played for the Orlando Magic.  We may never know how seriously he considered coming to Orlando when his first NBA contract was up but we Central Florida-residing, glass half full idealists thought we had a chance.  He had already won a title with the Spurs but everyone in Orlando was hoping he was ready for a new challenge, that no longer having the luxury of playing alongside the retiring David Robinson might prompt him to pursue other opportunities.

The Magic had money to burn during the 2000 off-season and were making a serious run at Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill and Tim Duncan.  They landed two out of those three.  Actually, they got one-and-a-half out of three because Grant Hill was never the same after his foot surgery.

The Don Calvino, another long-suffering Magic fan and I, sat in our respective offices awaiting the news.  We had ESPN.com pulled up and were hit the refresh button regularly.  As soon as the announcement came that Duncan had signed with the Magic, we were making a call to the season ticket office with our credit cards in hand.

tim-duncan-5-championshipsThat day never came.

Our dreams of Tim Duncan leading Central Florida to glory never materialized.  As history would have it, Timmy stayed in San Antonio for 19 years and won five titles.

Tim Duncan was one of the most dominant post players I’ve ever seen.  His nickname, the Big Fundamentals, may be the most appropriate nickname ever given an athlete.

This is how good Tim Duncan was.

Tim Duncan was so good that the Spurs increased their win total by 26 games the year after they drafted him.

Tim Duncan was so good that he led a Spurs team to a title in his second season.

Tim Duncan was so good that David Robinson, a league MVP, never so much as sniffed a title until Timmy came to town.

Tim Duncan was so good that no other coach-player combination (Popovich-Duncan) has won more NBA games.

Tim Duncan was so good that he ranks behind Michael, Kareem, Kobe, LeBron and Shaq in career playoff points scored.

Tim Duncan was so good that he ranks only behind Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain in career playoff rebounds.

Tim Duncan was so good that no player has more career playoff blocks.

Tim Duncan was so good that, with him, the Spurs never missed the playoffs and never finished worse than second in their division.

Tim Duncan was so good that he made the bank shot fashionable again.  Seriously, if you played pick-up basketball around the time Timmy entered the league, you’d have noticed that people went from not using the backboard to realizing “Hey, I can actually shoot a higher percentage if I aim for the painted square on the glass behind the rim.”

Tim gets draftedTim Duncan was so good that of all the number one draft picks in history, with the possible exception of Magic Johnson, he was the most valuable to the team that drafted him.  Hakeem, Patrick, Shaq, Iverson and LeBron were all number one picks.  So were Kareem, Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson and Bill Walton.  None of those guys won five titles with the team that drafted them.  Only Tim and Magic did.  And the Lakers had already won championships before Magic got there.  San Antonio hadn’t won squat.

Tim Duncan was so good that he almost made me buy season tickets.  He was so good that he almost made me commit.

Tim Duncan was not flash.  He didn’t need to be.  It wasn’t in his nature.  In the end, there was no fanfare or overblown retirement tour, even though there should have been.  He was most certainly worthy.  Heck, he didn’t even attend his own retirement press conference.

Tim Duncan’s final game truly marks the end of an era.  He was never the league’s fastest runner, highest jumper or most marketable athlete… but he was sound.  In fact, he may have even been my favorite player despite turning down Orlando to stay in Texas.

In this day and age where so many players lack fundamentals, one player will forever stand tall.  And that’s the player they’ll forever refer to as The Big Fundamentals.

14 thoughts on “Remembering Tim Duncan


  1. A five time NBA champion , three time Finals’ MVP , two-time League MVP and in each year of his professional career , he actually made a playoff appearance. Truly amazing and it basically sums up Tim Duncan’s career as a player.

  2. He never committed a personal foul in his career. That is also amazing.

  3. Could we be in for a surprise winner of The Open , in Troon, Scotland , with Lefty Phil Mickelson leading the tournament and having just missed record opening first round ? Mickelson scored a first-round 63 under his way to seven-under par score. Had he not missed birdie at the sixteenth in the first , he could have had himself record opening round sixty-two for an eight under par score. He still leads the pack by three shots after yesterday’s opening round.

    I think the second and third rounds will separate the men from the boys as The Open really gets set up for a thrilling final round on Sunday.

    Your thoughts on the second half of the MLB season ? And which players do you believe are likely to be moved by the Yankees as they dump salary ?

    In the case of the Rays, I think it might be time for them to start bringing up players from within their farm system to see if they can contribute in any major way.

  4. Thank you, Chris.

    If you don’t believe me about Duncan and the personal fouls, just ask Duncan for yourself.

  5. Fret not Chumster…he could still possibly end up in Orlando
    As the sea turtle at the Finding Nemo ride.

    Despite never committing a personal foul in his life, he had a great career.
    Best PF of All Time. Bad for you, but lucky for him that he never left San Antonio or we may not be paying tribute to a legend and most of those accomplishments you listed would exist. Let’s face it, the Magic could fuck up a wet dream.

    I clearly recall a Sport Illustrated cover where Tim was blocking a shot by Kobe and the headline read : “Substance Over Style”.
    At the time it offended me, but in retrospect, it sums up Tim.
    Thankfully, the Lakers climbed that hill more than once, beating the Spurs on several occasions on route to the Finals, but I always respected the Spurs and knew it would never come easy against them.

    Just as a friendly jab to Spurs fans, I’d like to say three little words.
    O point four.

    GOATS by position:
    PG – Magic
    SG – Mike
    SF – Bird
    PF – Tim
    C – Kareem

    Being on the NBA’s Mt. Rushmore is no small feat.
    Congrats on a stellar career Timmy.

    BTW, the Lakers had only won 1 title in LA before the Magic Man showed up. Jerry West’s lone ring in 72.

  6. Not sure how much of a surprise it would be if Lefty won the Open, Al. I mean, he still is Phil Mickelson. It would be a great story however.

    I’ll admit, I haven’t watched much baseball this season. And the Rays certainly haven’t given us a reason to watch. This team is unmotivated. I wonder if that’s going to affect Cash’s job.

  7. Even being mentioned in the same breath as Magic is pretty special, Bleed.

    I’m wondering how long it’s going to be you replace Bird with LeBron in that GOAT SF position.

  8. Closer than you think, but Bird…And remember, this is from a rabid Celtic hater, Larry was a straight up serial killer. He wasn’t trying to be your friend, or a nice guy, or marketable. Dude wanted to bury you, period.

    While LeBron is the more physically gifted player, Bird had the X factor that only a select few players in history have possessed. I can only imagine what LeBron might have been if he had that Bird/Kobe gene.

    Once all is said and done, LBJ may surpass Larry on stats alone, but for the moment, I still take Larry without hesitation.

    Damn, it hurts to speak so highly of such a hideous, beak billed leprechaun….And you’d never have known I’d ever be capable of fondly recalling Larry back in the day because I HATED Bird.

    Fucking HATED him.

    But in retrospect, the guy was a fucking murderer.

  9. Not sure that Phil can handle prosperity. Doesn’t he have a reputation as being a choker?

  10. Pop admitted it – Tim made Pop and a boatload of players mucho dinero and very famous over the years. As the saying goes, he is a bad, bad man (in a good way). I won’t be watching much NBA until someone else comes along with that kind of game.

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