Life After Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs
Life After Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs legend Tim Duncan seemed to be an everlasting competitor in the NBA. Memes have been created joking the five-time champion will be in the league until he’s 75 years old donning a full, white beard. Nobody expected Duncan to hang up his Adidas “Big Fundamental” signature kicks before his fellow championship-winning teammates of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili did. In a perfect world, the legendary trio would go all at once.
On July 11, 2016, Duncan made it official by writing a letter to the fans of the San Antonio Spurs, announcing the 2015-16 was his last, and thanking them for all they’ve done. Duncan finished the letter, “much love always, Tim.” What player would end a letter with just their first name? Tim Duncan, that’s who.
Tim Duncan played his heart out night-in-and-night-out leaving everything on the floor. He spent his entire 19-year career with the team that drafted him, and turned it into a winning franchise the moment he took the floor as a Spur. Duncan has never missed the playoffs in his entire career. Even out of his prime, Duncan had slight flashes of his younger self; he was still a defensive anchor and effective on the floor. Duncan admitted “I started not enjoying myself as much… when it’s not fun anymore, I’m done.” How will the San Antonio Spurs do without him?
The San Antonio Spurs will do just fine without their greatest son. Spurs long-time general manager R.C. Buford did everything in his power to revive the loss of Duncan corralling another all-time great big-man to the team in the summer of 2016. The acquisition of Pau Gasol from the Chicago Bulls via free-agency was a spectacular move by the franchise. Gasol, an unselfish player who has an impressive knack for passing the ball, will fit well in Gregg Popovich’s ball-moving system. Duncan and Gasol have similar career averages, similar playstyles, and are two-of-six players in NBA history to reach career marks of 19,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 blocks. Oh, did I mention they both know how to win? Gasol has two championship rings of his own.
San Antonio Spurs long-time general manager R.C. Buford emotionally said on a recent podcast with The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski,
“Tim [Duncan] changed the fate of our franchise… we’re all much better at what we do and who we are because of our time with Tim.”
Buford also elaborated on the fact Tim Duncan meant much more to the city of San Antonio than just being a basketball player.
While most of the members of the 2015-16 team–which finished second in the Western Conference with a 67-15 record—will return, the Spurs made some slight additions to the bench. After using a great deal of cash to haul in Pau Gasol, San Antonio brought back veteran guard Manu Ginobili for what may be his last season in the NBA on a one-year-deal, worth $14 million. San Antonio brought in 6’3” guard Ryan Arcidiacono to a two-year-deal worth the minimum. Arcidiacono was a key part of the Villanova Wildcats 2016 NCAA National Championship run. After losing fan favorite giant Boban Marjanovic to free-agency, San Antonio brought in 7’0” Dewayne Dedmon on a two-year-deal, worth $6 million. Dedmon is a big-man head coach Gregg Popovich will admire off the bench; he averaged 4.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 12.2 minutes per game in 2015-16 with the Orlando Magic. Latvian forward Davis Bertans is finally coming to the states on a two-year-deal worth the minimum with the Spurs. Bertans was the 42nd overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers, who traded his draft rights to San Antonio as part of the Kawhi Leonard for George Hill trade. Other acquisitions to the roster include 29th overall pick Dejounte Murray, Michigan State sharpshooter Bryn Forbes. These young players will be Gregg Popovich’s clay, forming their skills in the style of play he stresses.
Sure, it will be eerie looking at a San Antonio Spurs team without Tim Duncan, but all great things must come to an end. Duncan only knew winning basketball; it’s only a matter of time until San Antonio develops another player into a superstar who leads the team to success. No player will do it how Duncan did, though. No player will ever share the same charisma Duncan carried during his career.
Farewell and happy retirement, Tim