Apologies for the lengthy post.
It was the first of November in 1997 in San Antonio, TX. Mom got us tickets to the home opener for the San Antonio Spurs. I was a very excited 10 year old getting to go see my favorite player, "The Admiral," David Robinson, play. We also had come off a very horrible season. All five of starters in that season, including Robinson, Avery Johnson, and Sean Elliot, were out with injuries for most of the '96-'97 season. The morale was high though on this home opener. We had the number one pick in the draft, and picked up this kid from Wake Forest. He was 6'11, had good length, slim, and seemed quiet. I heard he was good though.
That was the understatement of a lifetime.
Tim Duncan. I cannot express enough to what this man means to me not only as fan, but as an athlete, and a man. Tim Duncan played all of his 19 seasons with San Antonio, leading them to 19 consecutive winning seasons, giving the Spurs a .710 wining percentage....that not just the greatest individual winning percentage in NBA history, but in any history of any sport! He became the third player in NBA history to hit 1,000 wins. He was Rookie of the Year. He appeared in 15 All Star Games. 2-time league MVP. 3-time Finals MVP. 5-time CHAMPION.
I could go on and on and on and on about his stats (like being first in post-season double-doubles and blocks), and all his other accolades, but his success was only a part of what was special about Tim Duncan. He is a man who leads his life and led his team with integrity. He was a team first, me-last basketball player in a league full of me-first players. He could have gone to Orlando in 2005 and play with T-Mac, but he decided to stay in San Antonio, and helped evolve the Spurs franchise into one of the greatest organizations in all of sports. He didn't ignore the new players, the rookies. He helped them realize their full potential. Don't believe me? Look how he mentored Kawhi Leonard, who is now a top five player in the league, easily. He dealt with everyday problems, including a divorce, but managed to keep that, like most things in his life, private. His selflessness made him the ultimate teammate, and that will be hard to replicate in this day and age of NBA basketball.
So I sit here reflecting to a man who I looked up to and admired most of my life. I was 10 years old in San Antonio when I first saw him play his first home game. I am now a 29 year old man.
To "The Big Fundamental." The Greatest Power Forward to ever play the game. A top ten all time NBA player ever. One hell of a man.
You will never be forgotten. You will certainly be missed.