All good things must come to an end and that was the case for the San Antonio Spurs on Monday morning when future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan bid the NBA farewell after 19 seasons.
Duncan was selected first by the Spurs in the 1997 NBA Draft and went on to become the face of the franchise over the next 19 years.
Duncan has never been that flashy when it comes to his basketball technique; he stuck to the basics and kept it simple, hence his nickname ‘The Big Fundamental’. The two-time NBA MVP has always been more of the quiet type both on and off the court, which is rare when one considers some of the other superstars that have had a tremendous impact on the game.
Duncan was a hit right from his debut season and he didn’t have to wait long to taste NBA glory as the Spurs were crowned NBA champions in his second season.
From there, Duncan continued to excel and the Spurs enjoyed countless successful seasons, including the 2002/03, 2004/05 and 2006/07 campaigns where they claimed the NBA title.
Even though a six-season drought would follow, Duncan stayed with the Spurs and his perseverance through some frustrating times paid off as he won his fifth NBA championship with the team in the 2013/14 season.
To put into perspective just how much of a force Duncan was, the 40-year-old averaged a double-double in terms of points and rebounds in his first 13 seasons. A feat that is nothing short of spectacular considering how simple he kept his game.
One could talk about Duncan’s accomplishments and stats all day, but the real issue for the Spurs now is where will they find another player as down-to-earth, hard-working and dominant as Duncan. The answer is they probably aren’t going to as the three-time NBA Finals MVP was a one-of-a-kind player. Simply put, he always cared more about the Spurs than his own numbers and the proof is in the five NBA titles he won with the franchise.
The Spurs are also unlikely to find someone who is as gifted in the fundamentals of basketball as Duncan was. Spurs fans will always have fond memories of watching Duncan use the backboard to his advantage when making jump shots or how he mastered the art of the hook shot. Without a doubt, Duncan was a basketball genius who didn’t need to rely on style or flare to thrive in the modern version of the game that has become dominated by long-range shots and eye-catching dunks.
Spurs legends have come and gone in the form of George ‘The Iceman’ Gervin and David Robinson, but what puts Duncan in a class of his own? Nothing more than the sheer fact that he has stayed loyal to the Spurs for his entire career and played his heart out for the team through times both good and bad. The man came to the Spurs carrying a lot of pressure on his shoulders, but he will leave as a player that captured the hearts of Spurs fans all around the world and as a legend that can never be replaced.