Tim Duncan. I always thought his last name was ironic. He dunked a lot. I always thought he should have been some kind of sports spokesperson for Dunkin’ Donuts. His 19-year career of careening over defenders on his way to the basket, smashing opposing players’ shots out of their flight path, and rising above everyone on the court to grab down decisive rebounds has come to an end.
The only player to ever play more seasons for one team than Tim Duncan is the one and only Kobe Bryant. He played for the Los Angeles Lakers for all 20 years of his career, and Duncan played on the San Antonio Spurs for all 19 of his. In those 19 years, he brought the Spurs, with the help of Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, to five NBA Championships, won two league MVP awards, and three finals MVP awards.
His resume doesn’t stop there. He ranks in the top 14 players of all-time in three different major categories: 14th most points scored in a career with 26,496; sixth most rebounds in a career with 15,091; and fifth most blocks in a career with over 3,000. He’s also only the third player ever to win 1,000 games in a career.
Despite his wide range of accolades and records, he is one of the more humble players in the league. He’s always been an amazing general on the court, telling whom to go where and to do what, but he’s far from arrogant. For the sake of argument, I believe it’s safe to call LeBron James, no matter how incredible he is at what he does, at least a little bit arrogant. However, the fact that James, upon hearing about Duncan’s retirement, tweeted, “Timmy D you know how I feel about you, what you did for me and for the entire NBA. Thank you for an amazing career!” paired with the hashtags #Legend, and #BestPFEver (best power forward ever) proves just how valuable of a player Duncan was on the court.
Off the court, however, he was a relatively normal guy. Unlike many pro ballers, who will wear extravagant and often very experimental outfits to events, clubs, and even post-game interviews, Duncan was known for his "normal dad" look. This generally would include some baggy, worn-looking jeans, a button-down (again, baggy) shirt in a color like beige or brown or dark green, and some simple, worn-looking dress shoes. This epitomized Duncan’s attitude and character as a superstar who wasn’t looking for the glamour or glory, just that coveted championship ring for his team, and boy, did he get it (five times).
It’s always a sad day when a superstar throws in the towel. But at 40 years old, it’s about time to leave the life of pro basketball. He’s left his mark and quite literally has changed the game of basketball in big ways. The Spurs, their players, coaches and fans, and everyone involved in any way in the basketball world will miss Tim Duncan. It’s the end of an era.