After an incredible 19 year NBA career, Tim Duncan has decided to retire. Duncan's retirement has seemed like it was coming for the past two or three seasons, but it is still a shock to see an all time great hang it up. Tim Duncan is the greatest power forward to ever play basketball, hands down. It's not even close. Some people will throw out Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Daryl Dawkins, Moses Malone, anyone big time hall of famer, but Duncan has surpassed them all, and it's not even close. Duncan was the consummate pro. He was THE pro's pro. Every player should strive to have a career like Duncan had. His longevity, his ability to play highly competitive basketball all the way to the end, being the greatest teammate, being humble, not having any crazy off the court issues, I mean, everything about his career was almost perfect. He was so durable and so reliable and just flat out awesome.
Duncan was the first pick in the 1997 draft. He went to the Spurs the year after they tanked out after David Robinson got hurt. Going into the 97 draft, Duncan was a can't miss player. The fact that he got to play with David Robinson his first two years in the NBA is a highly overlooked aspect of him getting accustomed to the NBA life with another humble pro. He and David Robinson were great teammates as well. Duncan's second year, they won the championship, giving David Robinson his much coveted title.
After winning rookie of the year in his first season, then the title his second season, Duncan really took off. That's not to say he wasn't great in his first two years, he was exceptional. But, after Robinson retired, Duncan took over as the team leader and thrived. He won four more titles as a player. He won the NBA finals MVP in three of his five titles. He was a 15 time all star. He was a regular on all NBA and all NBA defensive teams. He was a double double machine, averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds with regularity. Even as his career wore on, he adjusted to the new pace of the game. This also has a lot to do with the one coach he played his entire NBA career for, Gregg Poppovich. These two were as perfect for each other as Robinson and Duncan were the perfect teammates. How many players, in the entire history of the NBA, can say that they played for one team and one coach for a very, very long career. I'd venture to say that list is less than 5 players. And, I'd venture even further and say that Duncan is the best of all those players.
Getting back to adjusting to changing his style of play to the changes of play in the NBA, Duncan did it best. When he was first in the league, centers were the man on offense. The ball and the plays ran through them. Duncan excelled as a back to the basket center and was one of the better scorers in the low post of all time. Then, as a defender, he was a world class rim protector and a very capable rebounder. He stood at 6'10, but his arms were so long, it made him unguardable and dominant as a defender. Then, as the NBA has kind of evolved from centers being the focal point to this new "pace and space" and shooters being the first option and the "point forward" position being invented, Duncan still found a niche. He became a great passer. He developed a mid range jumper. He still protected the rim when guards would drive and he was one of the better rebounders still in the league. Even in the last couple of seasons, with his knees going and his legs not as strong or as fast and his jumping ability non existent, he was still a threat. He could still hit the mid range jumper. He still made hook shots. He still was a beast on put backs. He still played all NBA defense. He was still a very capable rebounder. He was still great.
I will miss watching Tim Duncan play basketball. There will be no other player like him, probably ever. He was such a great player on the court and he was very famous, but he carried himself with a humbleness and a humility that is unmatched. Like I said, there is no scandals that involve Tim Duncan. He was never boastful of arrogant on or off the court. He keeps to himself and is a very quiet, non assuming person. He never raised his voice and he rarely complained to officials. He never seemed to foul out of games or get kicked out of games. I said it before and I will say it again, he IS the pro that everyone should strive to be.
The time has come for Duncan to hang it up, but what a way to go and what a great, all time career. Tim Duncan is, and always will be, the greatest power forward of all time and he is a top five player of all time, no doubt about it. Enjoy your retirement.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast. He thinks you can be the greatest person of all time by supporting SeedSing. Follow Ty on twitter @tykulik.