NBA: San Antonio's Tim Duncan makes a quiet exit

Tim Duncan's (centre) retirement will break up the San Antonio Spurs' Hall of Fame trio of him, Tony Parker (left) and Manu Ginobili, seen here with the Larry O'Brien trophy after the Spurs defeated the Miami Heat to clinch their last NBA championshi
Tim Duncan's (centre) retirement will break up the San Antonio Spurs' Hall of Fame trio of him, Tony Parker (left) and Manu Ginobili, seen here with the Larry O'Brien trophy after the Spurs defeated the Miami Heat to clinch their last NBA championship two years ago.PHOTO: REUTERS

San Antonio power forward ends glittering 19-year career in a manner true to his nature

WASHINGTON • There could not have been a more fitting time for the news of Tim Duncan's retirement to begin to leak out than in the aftermath of Kevin Durant's announcement to switch teams on the morning of July 4.

That it was followed up by a press statement on Monday confirming the San Antonio Spurs forward's 19-year National basketball Association (NBA) career had come to an end - one that was eight paragraphs long and contained no quotes - was even more fitting.

No news conference. No public rally. No celebration of a historic and unrivalled career. And that is exactly how Duncan wants it to be.

The 40-year-old was never going to have the Kobe Bryant retirement tour.

His nickname, after all, is "The Big Fundamental". His signature shot was a mid-range jumper that he banked in with a ruthless efficiency.

He was more than happy to let his game do the talking, and it easily picked up the slack.

A TRUE TEAM PLAYER

Tim's understated selflessness made him the ultimate team-mate.

'' ADAM SILVER, NBA commissioner, praising "one of the most dominant players in NBA history".

Duncan may not have got the attention, or chased after it, in the way Bryant or most other NBA stars have throughout their careers.

But he was unquestionably the best player of his generation - the NBA's bridge from Michael Jordan to LeBron James - and one of the game's 10 best players ever.

  • DUNCAN'S ACHIEVEMENTS

  • 5
    NBA titles

  • 3
    NBA Finals Most Valuable Player

  • 2
    Regular season Most Valuable Player

  • 15
    All-Star appearances All-NBA selections All-defensive team selections

Where he fits inside that group is up for debate, but he will be one of the first picks for starting power forward on any all-time team.

The list of accomplishments is vast: five championships, two regular season Most Valuable Power awards, three NBA Finals MVP awards, 15 All-Star Game appearances, 15 all-NBA selections, 15 all-defensive team selections.

He was the foundation of the remarkable run of success and 1,072-438 regular-season record over the past 19 years for the Spurs, one of the great stretches of play by a franchise in modern sports history.

"Tim Duncan is one of the most dominant players in NBA history," the league's commissioner Adam Silver said. "Tim's understated selflessness made him the ultimate team-mate.

"For two decades Tim represented the Spurs, the city of San Antonio and the league with passion and class."

The 0.710 winning percentage the Spurs have posted since drafting Duncan as the No. 1 overall pick in 1997 is the best of any team in the four major American professional sports leagues.

His presence was what allowed San Antonio's coach Gregg Popovich - now considered one of the greatest coaches of all time - to coach the team the way he wanted.

That is because Popovich was able to treat Duncan the same as the 15th man on the roster. Together, they accounted for the most wins ever by a player-coach duo at 1,001.

And Duncan paired with Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker to form the most enduring trio of Hall of Fame stars of his generation. They hold the league record for regular season wins (575) and post-season wins (126).

But perhaps the most impressive thing about Duncan's remarkable career was his consistency.

He averaged 19 points and 10.8 rebounds per game during his career. But last season's campaign was disrupted by a knee injury and he played in only 61 games.

Few players have ever been able to boast the kind of across-the-board accomplishments Duncan has, remaining a player capable of controlling a game from the moment he came into the league.

"Even tho I knew it was coming, I'm still moved by the news. What a HUGE honor to have played with him for 14 seasons! #ThankYouTD," Ginobili said on Twitter. Parker said: "Greatest Power Forward Ever! It was an honor to play with you !! #spursfamily."

WASHINGTON POST, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2016, with the headline 'Duncan makes a quiet exit'. Print Edition | Subscribe