By Alejandro Danois
©2016, The Shadow League
He Elevated an Entire Sport With His Skills and Consistent Excellence
One of the greatest players in the illustrious history of our beautiful game, Tim Duncan – a five-time champion, two-time MVP, three-time Finals MVP and 15-time All-Star – announced this week that he’s retiring.
If there’s one word that comes to mind that could encapsulate who he was, and what he accomplished, it would be consistency. He elevated a franchise to a level of consistent excellence that is the Gold Standard in modern day sports. His San Antonio Spurs teams, with the exception of the ’99 lockout season, won at least 50 games every year of his career. Just let that sink in for a second.
I could never have a serious conversation with someone who said that Tim Duncan was boring. Basketball’s true aficionado’s will enlighten you on how breathtaking his game really was.
As an NBA rookie, Duncan grabbed 22 boards in his first game against Dennis Rodman. After hitting Charles Barkley up with his arsenal of simple but effective low-post moves and array of pump fakes, spins, up-and-unders and mid-range bank shots, along with some tough rebounding and defense, Sir Charles was moved to say, “I have seen the future and he wears number 21.”
But to start there would be the wrong place to begin.
In order to fully appreciate the essence of Timothy Theodore Duncan, we must go back to the beginning, before the five NBA titles, before the brilliant 19-year pro career, even before his inauspicious debut at Wake Forest.
Because if it weren’t for a destructive tropical storm in 1989, the legend might never have flourished, and the name Tim Duncan might have remained hidden under a cloak of obscurity forever. The wrath of Hurricane Hugo had one positive outcome, it flung Duncan into the welcoming arms of basketball.
Prior to that, he was a 13-year-old competitive swimmer dripping with Olympic potential in the 50-meter, 100-meter and 400-meter freestyle events. His sister Tricia was a world class athlete in her own right, who swam the 100-and 200-meter backstroke at the 1988 Olympic Games.
“Timmy was even better than me,” Tricia told Sports Illustrated’s Tim Crothers in 1994. “There is no doubt in my mind that he would have gone to the 1992 Olympics and held his own against the world.”
His mother, Ione, was his biggest fan, often sitting poolside, holding a stopwatch and offering encouragement. A nurse/midwife who provided prenatal and postpartum care to expectant mothers, Ione re-arranged her work schedule so she could support her children’s activities, often working the 11p.m.-7a.m. shift.
She’d instilled in her offspring the mantra that would come to define Timmy’s internal drive.
“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better, and your better is best,” were the Duncan family words to live by. And she extracted a promise from all of her children, that they would all finish their college degree requirements.
For full story… TheShadowLeague.com
This story originally appeared on TheShadowLeague.com, a site dedicated to journalistically sound sports coverage with a cultural perspective that insightfully informs sports fans worldwide.