Rikki Grooms continues her Legacy Friday series with San Antonio's Tim Duncan. The series has already covered the careers of Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady, and it will continue every other Friday through the entire 2010-11 season.
Quite possibly the NBA’s quietest player and poster child for near perfect fundamentals, Tim Duncan has been a superstar since he first stepped into the NBA in 1997, winning the Rookie of the Year award that year. Duncan wasted little time winning his first title and Finals MVP in 1999 on his way to winning two more Finals MVPs, four NBA titles, and two regular season MVP’s. Duncan has been voted to the All-Rookie team, 12 All-Star teams, 13 All-NBA teams, 13 All-Defensive teams, and is one of four players to be voted to the All-NBA First team in his first eight seasons alongside Bob Pettit, Larry Bird, and Oscar Robertson. For a man that did not play organized basketball until the ninth grade, I would say he’s done pretty well for himself.
Duncan was one of the few basketball players to play four years in college and then go on to be successful in the NBA during a time when the trend was to spend as little time in college as possible. In his four years at Wake Forrest, Duncan won just about every award college basketball had to offer, plus his all around game allowed him to become the first player in NCAA history to reach 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 400 blocked shots, and 200 assists. This was just a small picture of what was to come. Duncan was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs with the first pick of the 1997 draft; teaming him with another quiet, fundamental big man in David Robinson. In his first season, Duncan averaged 21.1 ppg, 11.9 rpg, 2.7 apg, and 2.5 bpg.
In his second season, the lockout shortened 1998-1999 season, Duncan and the Spurs won the front end of back-to-back NBA titles. With Robinson retiring after the 2002-2003 season, Duncan became the undisputed leader of the Spurs. He led them to two more titles, winning his latest in 2007. As his body has aged, his chances of winning another championship are slipping away. His numbers have declined along with the Spurs’ chances to make one more deep run into the playoffs. Duncan has averaged 21.1 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 3.2 apg, and 2.3 bpg over his career and is a 50% FG shooter with his best year coming during the 2000-2001 season. That season Duncan averaged 25.5 ppg, 12.7 rpb, 3.7 apg, and 2.5 bpg. The one place Duncan has consistently struggled is at the free throw line, averaging just 69%.
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Duncan is a future Hall-of-Famer but has not been the typical NBA superstar, as he has remained out of trouble and out of the limelight while constantly winning. Clearly, he is the anti-superstar when compared to the rest of his NBA brethren. He goes out and does his job, game in and game out. With a few years left on his aging body, does Duncan have enough left for one more run at the title?