We all know how important Tim Duncan is to the San Antonio Spurs, David Robinson recently went so far as to say he’s had a ‘life-changing’ impact
Redirecting the fate of basketball franchises is largely a team effort but once in a while, we see the rare breed of individual who is able to steer the franchise in a new direction through their abilities. We’re seeing it now in how Giannis Antetokounmpo has elevated the Milwaukee Bucks, we’ve seen it before with Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas and LeBron James in Cleveland. Tim Duncan had that level of impact on the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs have had their share of star players but no one person can be credited with more of the franchise’s success than Duncan. His arrival in 1997 elevated the team to title contention and his presence kept them there for much of the next twenty years. His stellar on-court play and low-key demeanor helped sustain a culture and level of consistency that has become the gold-standard in professional basketball.
The impact that Duncan had is not lost on anyone. It’s why he’s considered one of the greatest players of all time, is as loved and respected as any star that you’ll find, and outside of the rare shot across the bow from a disgruntled ex-teammate, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone saying a bad word about him.
His former teammate, David Robinson, recently took his commendation of Duncan to another level, calling his impact on the franchise ‘life-changing’ in a recent interview with Ernie Johnson during a live stream on Twitter yesterday.
— NBA (@NBA) May 25, 2020
David Robinson calls Tim Duncan’s impact on San Antonio Spurs ‘life-changing’
Outside of their injury-plagued 1996-97 season, the San Antonio Spurs had enjoyed an impressive level of success prior to Duncan’s arrival. But Robinson said that soon after Duncan joined the team you could tell that he was different, and that he was going to take the Spurs to levels that they hadn’t been able to achieve before.
“When I first saw him play, I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, you’re incredible. This is gonna be a lot of fun.’ I didn’t think he was gonna be better than me, but I certainly thought he was gonna be really good….seeing Tim come in and knowing that I had real help, which would give us a real chance to win a championship, that was life-changing right there. I was very excited about it.”
‘Oh my goodness, you’re incredible’ is a fair reaction to seeing Duncan play at his prime. He helped Robinson capture the franchise’s first title in 1999 and the Twin Towers would nab another before Robinson retired after the team’s championship in 2003.
Duncan would go on to bring three more titles to the Alamo City before calling it quits in 2016. And while his playing days were behind him, he wasn’t done elevating the team just yet. He was a frequent practice attendee, mentored the young players on the team, and joined Gregg Popovich’s coaching staff prior to the ’19-20 season. He’s now on the shortlist of potential successors when Pop eventually does hang his clipboard up.
With the level of player empowerment and movement that we see today it’s conceivable that we may never see a player quite like Tim Duncan ever again. If that’s the case, San Antonio Spurs fans should count themselves lucky that we were so fortunate to have a player of his caliber on our team for so long.