Young Tim Duncan
Young Timmy. Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images.

Straight Outta Wake Forest, a crazy powerforward name Timmy D! 🎵

You got the joke right? Right?

The NBA’s objective nature naturally creates a unique discussion forum around various debatable points:

  • Who’s the greatest of all time?
  • Who’s the best: Guard, Forward, Center, etc?
  • Who’s the best defender of all time?
  • Which franchise had the greatest dynasty?
  • Would Wilt/ Shaq dominate in 2019? Would LeBron and Steph dominate in in the ’60s or ’90s?

If it’s debatable then there’s an NBA conversation about it, and Tim Duncan’s name belongs in a grip of different competitive conversations.

Tim Duncan shaking David Stern’s hand after being drafted. Photo credit: Craig Jones /Allsport

Exactly 22 years ago today Tim Duncan began his NBA journey. Back in ’97 Timmy was a safe bet to do great things down the road; but few would’ve guessed that The Big Fundamental would be transcendently good. In celebration of this generation changing draft pick by the Spurs lets take a look back at Timmy’s transition from NCAA star to NBA legend.

 

The Prologue

The basketball gods blessed us with Tim Duncan on April 25, 1976; and as Drake once said, “nothing was the same.” Island-born commonly share a deeper connection to water & the ocean than most and Timmy D was no different. In his youth, the Virgin Islands native swam competitively, you know, Michael Phelps type ‘ish; and he excelled! For those of you without a lot of swimming background – being tall is a massive advantage in the water; the longer the arm, the more water a swimmer can move per-stroke. Needless to say, Tim was tall at a young age (over 6-feet). Sadly, Duncan’s dreams of Olympic Gold in swimming were halted in the wake of Hurricane Hugo as the island’s only Olympic-length pool was destroyed. With lap swimming no longer an option, Tim’s brother-in-law introduced the young, giant, teenager to basketball.

The U.S. Virgin Islands

Lets pause for a second and acknowledge something… Tim Duncan never played organized basketball before age 14…

How wild is that?!? In his senior season of high school Duncan averaged 25ppg while still learning the game!

Think of how many YouTube and Instagram videos you’ve seen of 8-year olds hoopin’. So, with the assistance of basic math, we can confirm that Timmy D arrived at Wake Forest with only four years of basketball experience! And he still dominated the hell out of players with easily 10+ years of experience!!! Wow.

Tim Duncan on his home court in the Virgin Islands.

*Note: When Hurricane Irma hit the Virgin Islands in 2017 Tim raised over 2.8 million in donations for him home; that’s a real boss move.

 

College Heavyweight

When Tim Duncan stepped foot onto Wake Forest’s campus he was billed as a defensive specimen with budding offensive potential. All the tools were there – Timmy just needed to refine his scoring. Every season his talents grew and in his senior season he averaged a monstrous double-double (20.8 points and 14.7 assists) while blocking 3.3 shots per game. Duncan dominated the NCAA before declaring for the NBA Draft, like, thoroughly beat that ass. In four seasons the Demon Deacon star averaged:

  • 16.5 points
  • 12.3 rebounds
  • 3.8 blocks
  • 3.2 assists
Tim Duncan rebound
Tim Duncan grabbing a rebound at Wake Forest in the Nike Air Uptempo.

Team success for the Demon Deacons never reached elite status. The Dukes and North Carolinas of the ACC world prevented Timmy’s team for winning more than one ACC Title. None of that could be pinned onto Duncan though – Wake Forest’s talent outside of Duncan wasn’t competitive enough (except for Randolph Childress, that guy balled out throughout Tim’s Freshman and Sophomore seasons). Nothing stopped the outstanding power forward from piling up NCAA hardware; Timmy balled so hard…

  • x3 NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches, basically DPOY); 1995-97
  • x2 ACC Player of the Year; 1996-97
  • x2 All-American first-team; 1996-97
  • 1997 National College Player of the Year
  • Wooden Award Winer (basically MVP); 1997
Tim Duncan celebrating
Tim Duncan, “Hell yeah!” Photo by Bob Leverone.
Tim Duncan in college
Tim Duncan at Wake Forest in the Nike Air Max Uptempo.

The Birth of a Dynasty

Tim Duncan on Draft Night. Photo by Andy Hayt/NBAE via Getty Images.

Selecting Tim Duncan first overall in the 1997 NBA Draft was a no-brainer; no one thought for a second Keith Van Horn (the number two pick by Philly) would be a better pick. He immediately made an impact alongside Hall-Of-Famer center, David Robinson as the Spurs immediately improved from the season prior. It’s important to note that the Spurs weren’t a bad team in 1996 – they just lost Robinson due to injury and subsequently stunk it up (some would call it tanking, but this was before ‘tanking’ was really even a thing). San Antonio’s 20-62 record was so abysmal that it looks like a typo, it’s almost comical; the season before (in ’95) they sent 59-23! The dumpster fire that was the 1996 season allowed the Spurs to draft Timmy though, so one losing season for that opportunity was well worth it.

Rookie Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan’s Rookie Photo in the Nike Air Total Max Uptempo.

The Spurs completely flipped the script upon Duncan’s arrival as the team returned to prominence. It quickly became apparent that Duncan was going to be special in the NBA. En route to winning Rookie of the Year, Timmy averaged 21 ppg and 12 rpg alongside his mentor and teammate David Robinson. The Utah Jazz eventually defeated San Antonio in the Playoffs; but that Western Conference Finals loss only fueled Tim and the Spurs to further pursue greatness.

Timmy and The Admiral
Tim Duncan and David Robinson.

That’s it, end of story.

Nah, just playin’. We’ll end this story of the forward Straight Outta Wake Forest on a happier, crazier, note. Okay… here’s a wild situation for ya’ll. The Spur’s season after losing to the Jazz was shortened due to the NBA lockout. Because of said mentioned lockout the season’s schedule got all out of wack allowing for the NBA Finals to be played later than usual. So, two seasons after being drafted number one overall (June 25, 1999) Tim Duncan won his first NBA Championship against the New York Kicks… exactly two years after being drafted! How wild is that?!

The San Antonio Spurs, 1999 NBA Champions.

We hope you enjoyed this brief rundown of Tim Duncan’s journey into the league and early years as a Spur. Thanks for reading, we’ll leave you with these pictures of Timmy dressing like Timmy later in his career. 😃

Tim Duncan casual
Tim Duncan with the fit, BOI!
Tim Duncan pre-game
Can’t mess with the cell phone holster.
Tim Duncan's jersey hanging in the rafters
Tim Duncan’s retired jersey.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.