By: Monte Perez
For most of today’s NBA’s players, it is all about them. They want their shots, their points, their sneakers and their brand. NBA’s “Golden Child,” Stephen Curry just charged a ridiculous $2,000 per child to attend his basketball camps. The most prestigious and competitive basketball camps in the country charge anywhere from $650- $700. Tim Duncan just announced his retirement. There was no national press conference, no farewell tour and no fanfare. But, this is what Tim has been for his 19-year career. You see, Duncan is a rare breed of athlete, he played for the name on the front of his jersey (The Spurs) not the name on the back of his Jersey.
The man they call” The Big Fundamental” was the 1st overall pick by the San Antonio Spurs in 1997. The awards are too many to list, but here are a few:
- 5× NBA champion (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014).
- 3× NBA Finals MVP (1999, 2003, 2005).
- 2× NBA Most Valuable Player (2002–2003).
- 15× NBA All-Star (1998, 2000–2011, 2013, 2015).
- 8× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1999–2003).
The only time Duncan didn’t win at least 50 games in a season was in 1998-99. That was the strike shortened year. The Spurs went 37-13 and won the Championship.. Duncan has 155 more wins than any other team in the NBA during his playing time. NBA experts always bring up legendary “Big 3’s” The Lakers had Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Boston Celtics had Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. The Chicago Bulls had Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. No disrespect to those players and teams, but there has never been a trifecta quite like Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. The Spurs threesome combined for 701 wins. That is the most in the history by any trio in the NBA.
What made Duncan so great was his ability to adapt and evolve as a player. The most common thing for broadcasters/writers to do is to compare one player with another during their careers. Everyone will compare Duncan’s career with Kobe Bryant’s but to me there is no comparison. The Lakers and Kobe were never a legitimate contender once Phil Jackson stopped coaching the team. The Spurs year in and year out were always competing for a title with Duncan. “Timmy” took constant payroll cuts and a lesser role for the betterment of the team. Kobe never did this, Bryant always wanted to take the most shots and score the most points. Duncan made $5.5 million last year. Kobe made $25 million. Now, most Lakers fan will respond by saying… the Lakers paid Bryant that money, it is not Kobe’s fault. It is partially Bryant’s fault because he didn’t have any self-awareness. Despite his skills being diminished, Kobe in a salary cap league, still wanted to be the highest paid player. Duncan played without ego and his only priority was winning no matter what he got paid or what his role was on the team.
Duncan won 5 championships and if it wasn’t for a Derek Fisher buzzer beater and Ray Allen three pointer, he probably would have won 7 rings. The Former Wake Forrest all-American, will go down as the greatest Power Forward in the history of the NBA. He did it all,without drawing attention to himself and being the consummate professional day in day out. There are many ways to succeed in life. But as Frank Sinatra once wrote, “ And now the end is near, so I face the final curtain… I did it my way.” This describes Duncan perfectly, He was a class act who never cared about the bright lights, big city or endorsements. In my opinion, we need more athletes and leaders like Duncan. He never talked about it, he just went out and did it.
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