Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tim Duncan Tribute

We knew it was coming. We knew it would be soon...yet when the news broke on July 11th that Tim Duncan had retired, I was still saddened by the news. Duncan came into the NBA in 1997, and while the Spurs have never been my favorite team- he has personally never left my Top 10 Favorite players list (although I've never actually committed that list to paper or blog post- he'd be in there for sure.)

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. 
It's safe to say, with no disrespect to David Robinson (another favorite of mine) and George Gervin, Duncan is the best player in Spurs history and arguably in the top 10 of all time.

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?
The best and rarest card of him in my collection though, is this one.
It's hard to see in the scan, but it is indeed his autograph, from 2004-05 Luxury Box. Not only that, but it's the Tier Reserved parallel and is SN to 75. Add in the silver alternate jersey, and this card is a winner. I pulled this one, from my box of the set when it was new. He rarely signs autographs, so I was thrilled to get this one. It's the only time he appears in my autograph collection.

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.
Since I posted a base card, an autograph and a figure, how about a relic?
This comes from 2014-15 National Treasures, a set that is too expensive for me to purchase outright. I got this card as a single from one of the Facebook groups, and is the only card I have from the set. The text that appears black is really silver foil.

Thank you for 19 years of excellence.


  1. Really great post. It won't be the same without him now. :(

  2. I thought this summed him up pretty well. He is either that nice or the most passive aggressive trash talker ever....http://uproxx.com/dimemag/tim-duncan-story-etan-thomas/

    1. I am pretty sure he really IS that nice!

  3. I think it's safe to say that there will never be another player like him (or even close). Thank goodness he started playing so late, as he was able to avoid growing up playing any AAU ball, since they would have stripped him of all his natural abilities (especially on the defensive side) and we probably wouldn't be talking about his HOF career now.

    1. I'm not sure if they have AAU ball in the USVI, but I've heard nothing good about it at all. I stick pretty much to the pros.

  4. I love that Duncan card as well. Well said. One of the all-time greats and I'm so glad to have been able to watch his career. It has truly been fun.