Tim Duncan “The Big Fundamental”
Tim Duncan is not the flashiest player, but he is one of the more talented big men to play in NBA history. Sometimes it’s not about being the flashiest players. Sometimes all that matters is being the best at the basics. That would describe Tim Duncan’s career.
Duncan’s athletic career didn’t begin with basketball. As a child, he dreamed of being an Olympic swimmer. Aside from this, there was also some tragedy in Duncan’s childhood. His mother died of breast cancer one day before his 14th birthday.
It wasn’t until 9th grade that Duncan would play basketball and that would be lifechanging for him. As a senior in high school he averaged 25 points per game and attracted the attention of Wake Forest University. That is where Duncan would end up playing college basketball.
Duncan got to play right away which wasn’t as common as it is today. The big man became known for his simple style of play down in the post.
In his sophomore season, Duncan was one of the hottest NBA prospects in college basketball. Still he didn’t leave until his senior year. He ended his college career winning the ACC Player of the Year award twice. His number 21 was eventually retired by Wake Forest.
Duncan was selected with the first pick in the 1997 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs. He would join the Spurs who already had legend David Robertson on the roster. Duncan and Robertson would become known as the “Twin Towers” due to their great defense.
Even though Duncan was so talented, some critics called his game boring because his game was so simple but effective. That’s how he had earned the nickname “The Big Fundamental.” Duncan had a quality rookie season he averaged 21.1 points and 11.9 rebounds a game while earning his first All-Star nomination and won Rookie of the Year. He would go on to appear in 15 total All-Star games in his career.
It wasn’t long before Duncan won his first NBA Championship. Duncan won his first championship in the 1998-’99 season. Not long after that, one of his best seasons came in just his fifth year, where he averaged 25.5 points and 12.7 rebounds per game in the 2001-’02 season.
A major turning point for Duncan’s career was when David Robertson retired. Duncan was expected to be a leader down low. He continued to be a leader on the scoreboard but Robertson even admitted that it would take some time for Duncan to be a leader in the locker room. In his first season without Robertson, Duncan averaged 22.3 points and 12.4 rebounds a game.
It wasn’t long before Duncan would be winning another championship. In 2005 he won the third championship of his career. This was also rather special because Duncan won his third NBA Finals MVP award. He joined Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, as the only players to do so.
From 2007-’13 Duncan and the Spurs struggled in the playoffs, but Duncan’s career didn’t end on a bad note. In 2014 Duncan won his fifth NBA Championship. The Spurs dominated and Duncan became the oldest player to have a 20-20 game. This title made Duncan the only player besides John Salley to win a title in three different decades.
Post playing career
Duncan’s career ended in 2016 when he announced his retirement in July. That same year his number was retired by the San Antonio Spurs and he would join Gregg Popovich’s coaching staff. Duncan averaged 20.6 points and 11.4 rebounds a game in his career. He is the model of consistency.
Duncan made his debut as a head coach in 2020 when he was the acting head coach while Popovich missed the game due to personal reasons.