Before Tim Duncan entered the league in 1997, the San Antonio Spurs never won an NBA title. He was the consensus number one pick at the time and many believed he was the missing piece of the puzzle to the Spurs’ championship hopes. Boy, they were right!
Since Duncan came to San Antonio, the Spurs have won four NBA championships and needless to say, he was the driving force behind those four titles. But what was more impressive about those title runs is how San Antonio were never assembled in such a way which translated into instant success.
Instead of trading for star players or spending a lot of money to put together an All Star cast, the frugal Spurs did it through the draft. They built around Duncan year-after-year and become title contenders year-in and year-out.
The Spurs won their first-ever NBA crown in 1999 as David Robinson and Duncan formed an imposing front-line that was dubbed as the “Twin Towers.” That same year, Duncan won his first Finals MVP.
After three years of empty trips to the Finals, they recaptured the title in 2003, with some help from a young French point guard Tony Parker. Duncan was again named the Finals MVP and is already the centerpiece of the Spurs franchise. This gave Robinson the proper send off he deserves, he left the game on top as an NBA champion once again.
In 2005, Duncan embraced some changes, although he remained the anchor of the team’s defensive and offensive schemes, he allowed players around him to evolve and develop within the Spurs’ system. Most notably Manu Ginobili and Parker. Together they formed a trio that is now known as the “Big Three”. With Duncan manning the middle and he and Ginobili making clutch shots in the playoffs and in the Finals, the Spurs won their third title.
After being ousted by the Dallas Mavericks in 2006, they reach the NBA Finals again in 2007 beating the Phoenix Suns on their own running game during the 2007 Western Conference Finals and then swept the LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers, four games to none. This time, Parker was the star of the Finals while Duncan was happy and contented to get his fourth NBA title.
Last year, the Spurs tried their hardest to surround Duncan with more talent to try to win another NBA crown but it failed.
Now in his 14th season, Duncan is having a career-low in minutes, points and rebounds and yet the Spurs have the best record in NBA at 15-3.
What stands out is how Duncan is taking a backseat but still doing his best to help the team win. Case in point, the recent comeback win against the New Orleans Hornets and his triple-double performance in a rout against the Golden State Warriors.
From 1999-2007, Duncan has won with different front-court partners. From Robinson to Rasho Nesterovic to Fabricio Oberto and different supporting cast from Sean Elliot to Stephen Jackson to Bruce Bowen to Matt Bonner. The lists goes on and on.
The bottomline is Duncan was able to win with different players, with different personalities , with different playing styles. Ever the chameleon, Duncan will try one more to win it all this season.