Duncan closed the book on one of the league's greatest careers, compiling a quiet 56,738 minutes — including an NBA-record 9,370 in the playoffs — over 1,643 games that, when viewed collectively, spoke louder than any other power forward in history.and more »
View photo.Tim Duncan looks off into the distance. (Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)Â In case you were sleeping under that rock the San Antonio Spurs have long been pounding all morning, Tim Duncan retired from the sport of basketball after 19 seasonsÂ andÂ five NBA titles. Duncan closed the book on one of the leagueâ€™s greatest careers, compilingÂ a quiet 56,738 minutes â€” including an NBA-record 9,370 in the playoffs â€” over 1,643 games that, when viewed collectively, spoke louder than any other power forward in history. So, the mission to whittle a careerâ€™s worth of 26,496 points, 15,091 rebounds, 4,225 assists and 3,020 blocks down to eightÂ games was not an easy one. But we did it anyway. So, without further ado, Tim Duncanâ€™s eightÂ most memorable NBA games â€¦ [Follow Dunks Donâ€™t Lie on Tumblr:Â The best slams from all of basketball] June 25, 1999: San Antonio Spurs 78, New York Knicks 77 In just his second NBA season, Duncan cappedÂ the run to San Antonioâ€™s first championship with 31 points and nine rebounds over 46 minutes of a clinching Game 5 victory in Madison Square Garden. He also anchored the defensive effort that came to define aÂ Spurs teamÂ that slowedÂ games to a grind. These were not David Robinsonâ€™s Spurs. These were Tim Duncanâ€™s Spurs, and he had the Finals MVP trophy to prove it after a series in which he averaged 27.4 points, 14 boards, 2.4 assists and 2.2 blocks. â€œI think itâ€™s going to be very hard for me to explain to you guys how great this feels and how important it was not only to win it, but to win it for people that have worked so hard like Dave and [Avery Johnson]Â and Sean [Elliott],â€ Duncan told Yahoo Sports Editor-in-Chief Johnny Ludden, then the Spurs beat reporter for the San Antonio Express-News. â€œPeople that have been right there, right on the brink of winning it and havenâ€™t been able to get over that edge. â€œI feel so happy for them. Itâ€™s just an incredible feeling.â€ Dec. 26, 2001: Dallas Mavericks 126, San Antonio Spurs 123 (OT) In a career defined more by fundamentals than points, Duncan proved he could score with anyone, dropping a career-high 53 points on 28 shots (19-28 FG, 15-15 FT) to go along with 11 rebounds, four assists and three blocks opposite fellow legend Dirk Nowitzki on the day after Christmas in 2001. Duncanâ€™s Spurs became synonymous with winning, so itâ€™s strange to featureÂ a game they lost in overtime â€” albeit one he played 50 wildly impactful minutesÂ â€” as one of his greatest ever played,Â but this oneÂ wasÂ a classic as much for hisÂ career-high scoring total as it was for his postgame quote: â€œI wish Iâ€™d have missed all my shots the way this turned out.â€ May 15, 2003: San Antonio Spurs 110, Los Angeles Lakers 82 In the years after the Spurs won their first title, theÂ Lakers won three consecutive titles with Shaquille Oâ€™Neal and Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, and it appeared they were destined for several more.Â So, Duncan simply elevated his game to the nextÂ level, disposing of L.A. in the 2003 Western Conference semifinals with a 37-point, 16-rebound performance duringÂ a Game 6 blowout at the Staples Center. His effort overshadowed Shaqâ€™s 30 and 10 nightÂ and affirmed Duncanâ€™s second straight MVP honor. â€œWeâ€™ve been put down by these guys the last couple of years,â€Â Duncan told reporters afterwards. â€œMore than ending their reign, that felt a lot better â€”Â ending their season and going on.â€ June 15, 2003:Â San Antonio Spurs 88, New Jersey Nets 77 The 2003 NBA Finals were the height of â€œthe Spurs are boringâ€ discussion. After eliminating the Lakers and Mavericks outÂ West, they played theÂ equally dull East champion Nets in a series that saw scores mired in the 80s. But Duncanâ€™s output in a clinching Game 6 win proved methodical can be cool, too. In 46 minutes, he nearly recorded a quadruple-double, collecting game highs of 21 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists and a then-finals-record eight blocks. The Spurs scoredÂ 34 field goals in the game, and he either scored or assisted 19 of them. He also blocked eight of New Jerseyâ€™s 87 shots. It was a singular effort few could ever even dream of â€” a line nobody has logged in Basketball Reference archives that go back to 1983-84 â€” and he did itÂ in the deciding game of the NBA Finals. â€œIâ€™m sure he had absolutely no clue what his stats were, what was going on statistically,â€ Spurs coach Gregg Popovich saidÂ in the gameâ€™s aftermath. â€œHe just knows whatâ€™s going on in the game and what needs to be done.â€ June 23, 2005:Â San Antonio Spurs 81, Detroit Pistons 74 If you werenâ€™t bored by the Spurs already, this NBA Finals seriesÂ didnâ€™t help matters. The Pistons were another defensive force coming off the 2014 title and pushing San Antonio to a Game 7 in 2005. It wasnâ€™t pretty, but Duncan amassed game highs of 25 points and 11 rebounds, as a dynasty was born. In 42 minutes of a slugfest, Duncan addedÂ three assists and a pair of blocks. He scored a dozen of his 25 points in the third quarter, and his shot clock-beating jumperÂ in the final minutes was a dagger. The performance was enough to earn his third Finals MVP honor, matchingÂ his Larry Oâ€™Brien trophies. â€œWe only go as far as Tim takes us,â€ Spurs teammate Robert Horry told Yahooâ€™sÂ own Johnny Ludden, still holding it down at the Express-News then. â€œAnd today he took us to the top.â€ April 15, 2007: Dallas Mavericks 91, San Antonio Spurs 86 â€œWhy does this guy keep bringing up every time the Mavs beat the Spurs?â€ you ask. Well, perhaps you remember this game more for the time longtime NBA ref Joey Crawford ejected Duncan for laughing. Thatâ€™s right. Laughing. HeÂ could not stop chuckling on the end of San Antonioâ€™s bench at the officialâ€™s performance, and Crawford grew so enraged that he allegedly asked Duncan, â€œDo you want to fight?â€ It was as bizarre as it sounds, with an official challenging one of the gameâ€™s likable players to a duel. Crawford earned a season-long suspension and Duncan drew a $25,000 fine before leading the Spurs to their fourth title. Crawford, who also retired after this season, later expressed regret to ESPN. â€œI would just say to him, if we got down to it, the nitty gritty, we are sitting there having a couple of beers, I would say, â€˜Hey, I made a mistake,'â€ he said.Â â€œBut you know what, in reality, I canâ€™t go anywhere without somebody asking me about Tim Duncan. He is known for his great stellar career. I donâ€™t know what I am known for. I guess itâ€™s throwing out Tim Duncan.â€ April 19, 2008: San Antonio Spurs 117, Phoenix Suns 115 (2OT) The Spurs-Suns rivalry of the late 2000s was an awfully fun one, pitting the seven-seconds-or-less theory in Phoenix opposite a traditionally plodding San Antonio squad, and Game 1 of their first-round series in 2008 was the apex. The SunsÂ threw everything theyÂ had at Duncan, including an aging Shaq and an emerging Amarâ€™e Stoudemire, butÂ The Big Fundamental countered every punch. He finished with 40 points, 15 boards, five assists and three blocks, but it was aÂ 3-pointer â€” his only one that season â€” that tied the game at 104 in the final seconds of overtime and forced a second OT. In typical Duncan fashion, his response afterward was asÂ delightfully uninspiring as youâ€™d imagine. â€œI got a wide-open shot. Wound it up. Threw it up there and hoped for the best.â€ June 5, 2014: San Antonio Spurs 110, Miami Heat 95 MiamiÂ had ended San Antonioâ€™sÂ 2013 season in devastating fashion, with Ray Allenâ€™s Game 6 winner and the first win-or-go-home loss of Duncanâ€™s career in Game 7. It was redemption time in 2014. With Duncan now 38 years old and running out of chances to win one for the thumb, he set the tone for a surprisingly lopsided series with a vintage performance against the Heat, in the heat, as it were. This was the night the air conditioning malfunctioned at AT&T Center, forcing LeBron James out of Game 1 with leg cramps. All the while, an aging Duncan was turning back the clock, scoring 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds and three assists, foreshadowing that fifth ring. â€œIt was definitely a factor,â€ Duncan said in Duncanian fashion.Â â€œI think all of us were dehydrated. It was a significant test. We played through it and found a way to win.â€ That last quote has everything. Tim Duncan faced adversity, rose above and won. Thatâ€™s all there is. He played 1,643 games and won 70 percent of them. These were just eight of them, so surelyÂ there were more gems in the mix.Â And I bet you can probably come up with one that belongs on this list. â€“ â€“ â€“ â€“ â€“ â€“ â€“ Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Donâ€™t Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter!
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