The San Antonio Spurs broke the news via a press release, and the league will never be the same again. The backbone of the league, the calm at the center of the storm has finally stepped away. This isn't one of those annual 'Is this finally the year that Duncan retires' hoopla which we've been engaging in since half a decade. This time, he's gone for real.
In his wake, the legend from Wake Forest leaves a void which will never be filled. The Spurs drafted Tim Duncan in 1997, and they have been the gold standard of the league ever since. They've spawned a coaching tree which has taken root all across the league and the degree of success sustained and enjoyed by the Spurs during this 19 year period is unmatched in American sports. It all started with drafting Timothy Theodore Duncan.
For 19 years, Duncan has been the prototype of what a superstar franchise player should be. Tim Duncan will not eulogize himself in any way, shape or form. As coach, mentor and friend Greg Popovic said recently addressing his retirement, "I'm trying to wrap my head around why I'm standing here and he's not. We all know why, because it’s not Tim Duncan to bring any attention to himself."
It isn't indeed. And that is the criminal reason why he's sometimes been overlooked. Above the myriad maelstrom of stunning YouTube highlights and viral vines and witty Twitter hashtags, elevated above it all there has loomed a silent, stolid presence. Something which can't be quantified in likes, shares, or mentions, and is expressed solely in wins.
Players have announced their retirement in varied and flamboyant ways. Some choose to orchestrate a gold plated, pimped out, King Solomon level of extravaganza starting with a poem and culminating in a near season-long farewell tour. Tim Duncan announced his retirement with a 548-word press release .
With his quiet exit, Tim Duncan made a statement louder than any "Vince Carter juggling a cat and dunking over a topless model dancing to Gangnam style" video would.
It is a travesty that Tim Duncan is just being lauded as being the greatest Power Forward to play the game. His low-key demeanor coupled with a game bereft of loud showmanship has made it easy for us to overlook what he's been doing all these years. Digging a little deeper, it becomes apparent that Tim Duncan might just be the greatest player of all time, and here are 11 reasons supporting that:
1) Biggest winner in basketball
Maintaining consistency in the NBA is a very slippery slope. Players realise that winning can be a fleeting feeling. A few injuries, some wrong trades, bad draft management, it only takes one domino to fall to upturn the entire train. Tim Duncan retires as the only player to ever win 1,000 games with one franchise. It is really unheard of to maintain a 71% win percentage for 19 seasons.
For his career, Duncan scored 26,496 points, grabbed 15,091 rebounds, and blocked 3,020 shots while playing 47,638 minutes. On the all-time table, he finished 14th in points, 6th in rebounds, and 5th in blocks.
Unlike some superstars, Duncan never had any problem with sharing or ceding the reins of the franchise. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili together set the NBA record for most wins by a trio, 575 wins in the regular season and 126 wins in the playoffs.
The Spurs made it to the playoffs every single season that Duncan played. He won the regular season MVP award twice, in 2002 and 2003, and the Finals MVP three times in 1999, 2003 and 2005.
No other player has won so many games with his winning percentage in the history of the league.