For most part of the 2015-2016 season, Kobe Bryant took the spotlight in his farewell tour and final year. Little did we know that another great, as silent as he’s been known throughout the years, would also put his illustrious career to a close.
On the 11th of July, Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs announced that he will be retiring from the sport. Duncan, also known as arguably the best power forward to step on the court, will end his career as an all-time great, in addition to the tons of legacies he established.
Ever since Duncan was drafted by the Spurs back in 1997, the franchise took a total shift and changed its team up to the present. “The Big Fundamental” led the team to five NBA titles, a 1072-438 regular season, which is the best winning percentage in all of America’s four major sport in a 19-year span.
Aside from the championships, some of Duncan’s accolades include being the only player in the league to win the title in three decades. He won his first title back in 1999, then stormed three more in 2003, 2005 and 2007. Six years later, he almost had the ring in 2013 but managed to collect it in 2014.
He is a 15-time All-NBA team member, and 15-time All-defensive team member. Both of which happened in the same 15 years, which emphasizes on his consistency throughout the years. For years, the team displayed sustained excellence in terms of being a championship threat and is always in the conversation in the postseason talks.
Together with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the ‘Spurs Big 3’ became a formidable troika in the Western Conference and is also known for blending well and leading in the Spurs system. The trio is part of the most wins of any three-member crew in the NBA with 575 wins in the regular season and 126 in the playoffs. And as one of the handful to show his loyalty to a team, Duncan joins John Stockton(Utah) and Kobe Bryant(Los Angeles) to spend at least 19 season with one franchise.
As unpredictable as Duncan’s personality can be, he gave a hint in his last game with the Spurs jersey that it would be the ending to his NBA career. In Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals with his team down by wide-margin and the game already decided against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Tim Duncan surprisingly played the entire fourth quarter of the blowout. The team managed to slice the lead but it was too much to overcome.
In free agency, Duncan picked his player option for the Spurs that locked himself to the team for the 2016-2017 season. At that time however, he was leaning on retirement and uncertainty looms. The team signed marquee free agent Pau Gasol, who was viewed as Duncan’s replacement in their formidable starting five. A week later, Duncan ended the talks about the rumors and made the announcement himself.
For the first time since 1997, the Spurs will be playing without their cornerstone and franchise-changer. However, the legacy will be remembered as one of the winningest player in the sport with no egos, no teammate issues and locker room dramas. As silent and as shocking as his retirement announcement happened, it showed Duncan’s low personality that represented the Spurs’ under-the-radar personality throughout the years. At the end of the day, he proved how the game should be played and will always be known as a vicious silent great in his hall of fame stint.