After 19 of fundamental play, Tim Duncan ended his spectacular career the only way he knows: quietly and without a press-conference. In fact, Gregg Popovich was asked to hold a press conference for Tim, without Duncan. Duncan will go down as one of the top 10 players in the history of the game, and some can argue he is a top 5 player. His final stats: 56,738 minutes played, 9,370 playoff minutes (an NBA record), 1,643 #Games, 26,496 points, 15,091 rebounds, 4,225 assists, and 3,020 blocks. Timmy had quite the few memorable games, but we want to look at some of the best of the best.
No.5 Spurs vs. Mavericks, 26 December 2001
This is the only game on the list that ended with a Spurs loss. So, why is the game on the list? Because this is the game Duncan had his career high in points. Never known as a scorer, Tim dropped 53 on the Mavericks, shooting 19 of 28 from the floor. In addition, he had 11 rebounds and dished four assists. He did commit six turnovers, but this is all about his ability to score from the field, and from the free-throw line where he was perfect 15 from 15.
People will always overlook his ability to score, mostly because his signature bank shot is not flashy. But aside from Kareem’s sky hook and MJ’s turnaround jumper, would you take any other shot at the end of the game?
The Spurs lost in overtime, and after the game Duncan said he wish he’d missed all the shots because of the way the game turned out.
Game 7 Finals vs. New York Knicks, 1999
Not many players can say that they won a title in the second year in the league and end up with the Finals MVP trophy. But Duncan never missed the playoffs in his career, and in his second season, he led the Spurs to the elusive trophy.
Game 7 of the Finals was an absolute slugfest, with the end result Spurs 78: Knicks 77. At the time, the Spurs had David Robinson on their roster, but it was clear Timmy is the best player on the Spurs, and the one to build around. Duncan scored 31 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and anchored the defense for the Spurs in the decisive game. For the series, he had averages of 27.4 points, 14 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 2.4 assists.
Game 1, Finals vs. New Jersey Nets, 2003
Everyone remembers Duncan’s Game 6 performance of the 2003 Finals. But Game 1 was even better. The Spurs won the opener 101:89, and it was all Duncan. Faced playing against two great defensive centers in Dikembe Mutombo and Jason Collins, the Big Fundamental opened the series with 32 points, 20 rebounds, six assists, seven blocks and three steals.
The game was tied at halftime, and then Duncan took over, scoring 24 of his 32 points in the second half. He was two steals away from the elusive five-by-five, a feat nobody has achieved in the Finals.
Game 1, First Round vs. Phoenix Suns, 2008
After winning the title in 2007 with Tony Parker as the MVP, many believed the Spurs are done and Tim Duncan should retire. And he played eight more seasons. In the first round against the Spurs, Duncan delivered one of his greatest playoff performances, capping it with a three pointer to rip the Suns hearts out.
In a game that went to double overtime, Duncan finished with 40 points, 15 rebounds, 3 blocks and 5 assists on 16-of-24 shooting. And he was one for one on three pointers.
Finals Game 7 vs. Detroit Pistons, 2005
After the game, Robert Horry said that the Spurs go as far as Tim takes them, and that premise was true until his last season in the NBA. Duncan has always been the engine behind the Spurs success. The 2005 Finals was one of the worst, a slugfest with teams scoring 80 points at max. The score at the end of Game 7 was Spurs 81: Pistons 74.
Featuring two defensive forces, the 2005 Finals were tiring to watch. In Game 7, playing against the full defensive force of the Pistons, Duncan managed to score 25 points (game high), to go along with 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks.
IMG source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8b/Tim_duncan_vs_wizards_2009_cropped.jpg