The big fundamental retires from the NBA in silence
It was the 2007 NBA Finals and San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan was struggling against Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace. The no-fly zone was cooking as the Pistons took a 3-2 lead against the Spurs. Duncan knew Wallace was getting the best of him. But Duncan figured it out, just as he always figures it out and helped the Spurs win the final two games for one of his five NBA titles.
Duncan could always figure out things as the Big Fundamental and with the big bank shot and big rebounds. The best power forward in NBA history (sorry Karl Malone fans) retired as a 15-time All-Star and also made the NBA All-Defensive team 15 times.
He came in, took over for great David Robinson, and now will pass the torch to LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard. Former Chicago Bulls forward Pau Gasol, who will sign a two-year, $30 million deal, will replace Duncan.
Duncan carried himself with silent professionalism. He never got in trouble and perhaps his biggest “Oh my” moment came when he revealed that he wore a tongue ring. Shocking. And he did it in out of the way San Antonio where hardly is heard a discouraging word. You could call him Stone Cold Duncan because that is how he carried himself.
But he did not do it himself. For much of his run, Duncan ran roughshod with point guard Tony Parker and shooting guard Manu Ginobili. His head coach Gregg Popovich is considered one of the best coaches in NBA history. All should end up in the basketball hall of fame.
“Every time I walk around the house, once a month, I tell my wife ‘Say thank you, Tim,” Popovich told the San Antonio Express. “Before you start handing out applause and credit to anyone in this organization for anything that’s been accomplished, remember it all starts and goes through Timmy.”
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant recently retired after a farewell tour. He talked for much of the season about his accomplishments and five NBA rings. Now Bryant is on television commercials and riding off into the sunset with much pomp and circumstance.
Duncan might never be seen again.
Duncan did not dress flashy. He often wore jeans and XXXL dress shirts that often came from Costco. Duncan joins John Stockton and Kobe Bryant as the only players to spend 19 or more seasons with one team. “The ultimate teammate,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.
“Probably a top five all-time player,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “And undoubtedly a top five all-time teammate. Wow, what a career.”