Tim Duncan is ending one of the great careers in NBA history, retiring from the San Antonio Spurs after 19 seasons and five NBA championships.
The announcement was characteristically Duncan. Although it was not unexpected that he would walk away at the age of 40, the Spurs announced the news on their website Monday morning.
“Every time I walk around the house, once a month, I tell my wife, ‘Say thank you, Tim,’ ” Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said a few years ago (via the San Antonio Express). “Before you start handing out applause and credit to anyone in this organization for anything that’s been accomplished, remember it all starts and goes through Timmy.”
As with Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan/Kobe Bryant, Derek Jeter and Joe Torre, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, the combination of Popovich and Duncan was perfect. One is irascible, the other quiet. Both brought a steady hand and vision to the franchise.
Duncan, a two-time NBA MVP and three-time NBA Finals MVP who was a No. 1 overall pick out of Wake Forest, leaves a significant imprint on the game, even as his skills have diminished a little with age. With Duncan, the team went 1,072-438 in the regular season, for a .710 winning percentage that is the best over 19 years in NBA history. Over the last 19 years, that percentage is the best in the NFL, NHL and MLB, too. In the postseason, Duncan’s teams were 158-98, also a league record over that span.
Duncan leaves with his reputation for being sensible and dependable fully intact.
Duncan was the master of letting his game do the talking for him and, although the team has scheduled a press conference for him later in the week, it’s difficult to imagine that he’ll have a lot to say. It wouldn’t be his way.