Tim Duncan: Re-Living His Legacy with the San Antonio Spurs

By Michael Rehome

The year was 1997. The place was Charlotte, North Carolina. The event was the NBA Draft, a place in which college players look to see if their dreams would come reality.

Tim Duncan, a skinny kid from Wake Forest University who was projected to be selected No. 1, was about to see his life change, and in turn, the future of the San Antonio Spurs.

For any history buffs, you probably remember that during the 1996-97 season San Antonio had the third-worst record in the league because the team lost stars David Robinson and Sean Elliott earlier on in the season.

Fortune favored the Spurs, who turned the top pick into Duncan.

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At 21 years old, he started each of the Spurs 82 games, averaged just under 40 minutes a game and shot over 54.9 percent. Everyone in the organization knew something special was bound to happen. With a Hall of Famer in Robinson as well as Elliott, Avery Johnson and Bruce Bowen playing alongside Duncan, there were many outlets for him to learn from.

Duncan and Robinson were the catalysts of the team. In the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, Duncan helped lead the Spurs over the New York Knicks and to the franchise’s first-ever championship. Duncan also achieved a personal accolade, as he was unanimously selected the Rookie of the Year.

Since then, the roster has changed dramatically. Johnson, Bowen, Elliott and Robinson each retired from the game. Yet Duncan’s leadership was the key to the future success as younger players made their way into the league, including some international players who Duncan—just like Robinson—would be the teammate everyone looked up to for guidance.

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Since then, Duncan has led the Spurs to four more championships, five Western Conference crowns and 10 division titles. Duncan is also a three-time NBA Finals MVP, has a pair of NBA Most Valuable Player awards, 15 All-Star appearances and eight NBA All-Defensive First Team honors.

Now 39 years old, Duncan is heading into another grueling campaign, but he’s continued to find the drive to compete, which epitomizes what kind of player he’s been over the last 18 years.

His time as a Spurs is drawing to an end, many fans fear. Let’s not think that far just yet, since Duncan still has a lot remaining in his tank. There are more accolades to achieve, and the most important one is the race for NBA title No. 6.

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