It's not really much of a stretch to say he's in the running for the greatest of all time in his position, and it would be hard to argue against him- over 19 years, after all, how many other people can say they:
- Led their team to 5 NBA Championships
- Winning the NBA MVP award twice and the Finals MVP award three times
- Making the All-Star Game and All-NBA teams 15 times
- NEVER missing the playoffs
- Making 14 All-Defensive teams
- Rookie of the Year in 1997-98 and All-Star Game MVP in 1999-00
- 7th All-Time in games played (1392)
- 10th all-time in minutes played (47,368)
- 6th All-time in rebounds (15,091)
- 5th all-time in blocks (3020)
- 14th All-Time in points scored (26,496) This is even more impressive as defense was his specialty
- With Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, holds the NBA record for most wins scored by a trio of players.
- According to NBC Sports, since he joined the team the Spurs have won 71% of the games they have played- which is the highest percentage of wins in ball sports since 1997 when he entered the NBA.
There is no question that he is a first ballot hall of famer, and his #21 will be going up in the rafters in San Antonio in short order- probably the upcoming 2016-17 NBA season.
While he was never flashy, never made a big deal about anything, never caused trouble, (In all the years I've been watching him play I can count the time he even argued a call on one hand!) he quietly did what he did and he did it very, very well. If it wasn't for a strange twist of fate, we may never have had the pleasure of seeing him play; his dream was to be an Olympic swimmer, like his older sister, but the only Olympic sized pool in his native US Virgin Islands was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo in 1989. He chose basketball over the shark-infest ocean and that set him on a course toward the NBA and the rest, as they say, is history.
I have a lot of Tim Duncan cards in my collection. The Trading Card Database shows 522 although that's somewhat padded as it also includes team cards, cards shared with other people and college cards, none of which I count towards the total of what I have in my collection. (but my stats are long gone, working on recreating them but it'll be years before I get them back. I digress) He ranks #9 in my NBA collection as per the Database. For a while, in the late 1990s and early-mid 2000s, he was being included in just about every insert and there are many cards of him to choose from; many of them ended up in my collection. Interesting side fact: According to the Database, he ranks 6th all-time in basketball cards produced, as well.
Although I have some rarities of him, my favorite is probably this one, card #40 in the 2003-04 Bowman Signature set. It may not be an action shot, but this card is Tim Duncan. Even though this celebration was from beating my Nets for the NBA Championship, how can you not love this card?
One of my favorite memories is of when I got his first Starting Lineup figure. I was unable to find it at retail, but my local card shop had it available, but it was pricey- at least to me. I think it cost $25 dollars. I don't remember for sure but I remember that we put it on layaway. I remember the anticipation of finally getting it, and the fact that it doesn't really look too much like him didn't detract from that at all.
Thank you for 19 years of excellence.