It’s the end of a remarkable era for San Antonio and for the NBA, as Tim Duncan retired Monday.
Duncan, 40, considered the greatest power forward of all time, spent 19 seasons with the Spurs and led them to five NBA championships. A no-doubt first-ballot Hall of Famer, the 6-11 Duncan amassed more than 26,000 points, 15,000 rebounds and 3,000 blocks.
A three-time NBA Finals MVP, Duncan averaged 19.0 points, 10.8 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in 1,392 games. He ranks fifth in NBA history in double-doubles and blocks, sixth in rebounds and 14th in scoring.
The Spurs went 1,072-438 in the regular season with Duncan, one of three players in NBA history to win at least 1,000 games (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Robert Parish are the others).
“Even tho I knew it was coming, I’m still moved by the news,” teammate Manu Ginobili tweeted. “What a HUGE honor to have played with him for 14 seasons! #ThankYouTD.”
Duncan, the first pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, left the NBA in a way befitting how he carried himself on the court. He never wanted the spotlight or the attention. There will be no farewell tour for one of the great players in basketball history.
The Spurs announced Duncan’s retirement in a news release that didn’t include a statement from the 15-time All-Star and two-time NBA MVP.
LeBron James, who was 1-2 against Duncan’s Spurs in the NBA Finals, tweeted: “Timmy D you know how I feel about you, what you did for me and for the entire NBA. Thank you for an amazing career! #BestPFEver #Legend.”
“Wow! What an end to an EXTRAORDINARY career!!!” tweeted Duncan’s former teammate, Avery Johnson. “Great Teammate! Friend! #champion Leader! #TD #BigFundamental @spurs.”
Kobe Bryant, who retired after the 2015-16 season and went through all the pomp and circumstance of a farewell tour, tweeted, “Congrats TD #19yrs #GoSpursGo.”
“Say it ain’t so!!!” tweeted Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki, who went head-to-head against Duncan 90 times. “Greatest power forward ever!”
Dwyane Wade, who signed with the Chicago Bulls last week after 13 seasons with the Miami Heat, also tweeted about Duncan.
“Timmie D! Congrats on an Unbelievable career! Thanks for inspiring us all with just your PLAY! #GreatestPowerforwardtoeverplaythisgame.’’
Duncan proved to be the perfect star for a franchise that was all about team. He spent all 19 NBA seasons playing for one team and one coach, Gregg Popovich, who will hold a news conference Tuesday to address Duncan’s retirement.
Led by Duncan, the Spurs won at least 50 games for 17 straight seasons, the longest streak in NBA history.
Duncan, who was mentored by Hall of Fame center David Robinson, always did whatever Popovich and the Spurs needed him to do. An egoless star, he went from being the franchise player to handing the keys of the team over to Tony Parker and Ginobili and continued to play efficient basketball.
Spurs guard Danny Green cherished playing with and learning from Duncan.
“It meant the world to me,” the North Babylon native told News 12 Long Island. “He is obviously an idol of mine, someone I admired since I was in middle school, since I’ve been playing basketball. Never thought I’d play in the NBA, but to share a locker room with that guy, it’s unbelievable. Kind of surreal.
“I played five good seasons with him. He was great. I just wish he was young enough that he could play five more seasons. He was a great teammate, even a better person off the court, and always encouraged us and looked out for us.”
Duncan averaged career lows of 8.6 points and 7.3 rebounds this past season and struggled in the playoffs, averaging 5.9 points and 4.8 rebounds. But he played well in the previous two postseasons, averaging 16.3 points and 9.2 rebounds during the Spurs’ run to the NBA title in 2014.
“Tim Duncan is one of the most dominant players in NBA history,” commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “His devotion to excellence and mastery of the game led to five NBA championships, two regular-season MVP awards and a place among the all-time greats, while his understated selflessness made him the ultimate teammate.
“For two decades, Tim represented the Spurs, the city of San Antonio and the league with passion and class. All of us in the NBA family thank him for his profound impact on the game.”
Tim Duncan’s Hall of Fame-caliber career was never about the numbers, but he put up some huge ones nevertheless:
All-NBA first-team selections
Regular-season wins (third all-time)
Regular-season points (14th all-time)
Regular-season rebounds (sixth all-time)
Regular-season blocked shots (fifth all-time)
Double-doubles (points-rebounds, fifth all-time)