Tim Duncan Retires as the
NBA’s Greatest Power Foward
Monday’s announcement from San Antonio that 40-year old Tim Duncan was retiring after a brilliant 19-year career with the San Antonio Spurs caused a stir throughout the sports world. The reaction to the under-stated Duncan’s departure, demonstrates what a force he was in the NBA and why he not only was the league’s greatest power forward, but may be one of its five greatest players of all-time.
In part one of this post (below), I outline Duncan’s accomplishments. In part two, I review how the league reacted to the news.
Only Started Playing Basketball at 13
Duncan was a swimmer who switched to basketball after Hurricane Hugo destroyed the only Olympic-sized pool on St. Croix.
- Duncan is one of three players to win the Wooden Award, NBA Rookie of the Year, NBA MVP, NBA Finals MVP and NBA All-Star Game MVP, joining Larry Bird and Michael Jordan.
- Joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only other players in NBA history to record at least 26,000 points, 15,000 rebounds and 3,000 blocks in his career.
- He is one of four players to rank in the top 15 in points, rebounds and blocks, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal.
- Since drafting Duncan, the Spurs won five championships and posted a 1,072-438 regular season record, giving the team a .710 winning percentage, which is the best 19-year stretch in NBA history and was the best in all of the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB over the last 19 years.
- Posted at least a .600 winning percentage in each of Duncan’s 19 seasons, a record for the most consecutive seasons with a .600 win percentage in the four major U.S. sports.
- Made playoffs every season.
- Won at least 50 games the last 17 seasons, the longest streak in league history.
- The Spurs have won 1,072 regular-season games since the start of the 1997-98 season, 155 more than the next closest team.
- The Spurs were in the conference Finals 9 times (1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014), the NBA Finals 6 times (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2014) and NBA Champs 5 times (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014).
- Duncan and Gregg Popovich have the most wins by a player-coach duo in NBA history (1,001)
- Along with teammates Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, Duncan is part of the NBA record for most wins by a trio in both the regular season (575) and postseason (126).
- One of just three players in NBA history, along with John Stockton and Kobe Bryant, to spend 19 seasons with one franchise.
- Duncan was NBA MVP in 2002 and 2003.
- NBA Finals MVP in 1999, 2003 and 2005. Duncan is joined by Jordan, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James as the only players to win the Finals MVP three times.
- 15-time NBA All-Star
- Duncan totaled 15 All-NBA Team selections (tied for most all-time)
- 15 NBA All-Defensive Team honors (most all-time)
- Won both honors in the same season 15 times, the most in league history.
- Only player ever to be selected to both the All-NBA and All-Defensive Teams in every one of his first 13 seasons.
- One of only four players to receive All-NBA First Team honors in each of his first eight seasons (1998–2005), along with Hall of Famers Bob Pettit (ten seasons), Larry Bird (nine seasons), and Oscar Robertson (nine seasons).
- Duncan was also named by the Association for Professional Basketball Research as one of “100 Greatest Professional Basketball Players of The 20th Century”, the youngest player on that list.
- Named one of the Next 10 Greatest Players on the tenth anniversary of the release of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team by the TNT broadcasting crew.
- Ranked 8th by Slam Magazine in their list of the Top 50 NBA players of All Time.
See Nate Silver’s statistical analysis for why Duncan is one of the top 5 players of all time. Farewell To Tim Duncan, The Greatest Two-Way Player In Modern NBA History:
The post-Jordan NBA era unofficially ended Monday, when San Antonio Spurs legend Tim Duncan announced his retirement after 19 seasons as a pro. Duncan was at the forefront of the league for the past two decades, winning five championships and a pair of MVPs as the best player of the generation that entered the league as MJ was on his way out. But for whatever reason — be it playing in small-market San Antonio, his relatively low-key public persona or all the things that go into a nickname like the Big Fundamental — Duncan’s greatness remains undersold in many quarters. So here are a couple of ways in which he made a case for being the best player in modern NBA history.
|Games||1,392||#7||Robert Parrish (1611)|
|Minutes||47,368||#10||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (57,446)|
|Playoff Games||251||#2||Derek Fisher (259)|
|Points||26,496||#14||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387)|
|Points Playoffs||5,172||#6||Michael Jordan (5,987)|
|Blocks||3,020||#5||Hakeem Olajuwon (3,830)|
|Rebounds||15,091||#6||Wilt Chamberlain (23,924)|
|Def. Rebounds||11,232||#3||Kevin Garnett (11,453)|
|Off. Rebounds||3,859||#10||Moses Malone (6,731)|
|Rebounds Playoffs||2,859||#3||Bill Russell (4,104)|
|Def. Rebounds Playoffs||2,081||#1|
|Off. Rebounds Playoffs||778||#2||Shaquille O’Neal (866)|
|Double Doubles Playoffs||164||#1|
|Value Over Replacement||89.31||#6||LeBron James (108.61)|
|VOR Playoffs||18.59||#3|| LeBron James
|Win Shares||206.38||#6||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (273.41)|
|Offensive WS||100.03||#21||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (178.92)|
|Defensive WS||106.34||#2||Bill Russell (133.64)|
|WS Playoffs||37.84||#3||LeBron James (41.58)|
|Off WS Playoffs||20.46||#7||LeBron James (27.67)|
|Def. WS Playoffs||17.38||#2||Bill Russell (21.76)|
|Wins||1,001||#3||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,074)|
|Wins Playoffs||157||#2||Derek Fisher (161)|
The Stats – Regular Season
The Stats – Playoffs