LOS ANGELES: Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs talisman who retired on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) after 19 seasons and five NBA titles, thanked fans and teammates on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) in a letter posted on the Spurs website.
Duncan, 40, hadn’t spoken publicly since the Spurs announced he was retiring. He spent his entire career with San Antonio, who made him the number one overall selection in the 1997 NBA draft.
“If asked to write a script for my career 19 years ago, there is no way I would’ve been able to dream up this journey,” wrote Duncan, who led the Spurs to titles in 1999, 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2014.
“I stand here at the end of this ride and look back in awe of what I’ve experienced. The wins and losses will be remembered, but what I’ll remember most are the people: The fans inside the arena and out, the staff and coaches who pushed me and held me together, the teammates (and even opponents) who will be lifelong friends, sharing my ups and downs with family and close friends, and, most importantly, the snapshots of my kids growing up and levering in watching Dad work.
“Thank you to the city of San Antonio for the love and the support over these years. Thank you to the fans all over the world.”
Duncan, a native of the Virgin Islands, was a three-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player and a two-time regular season MVP.
Duncan, together with Tony Parker and Manu Ignobility, formed one of the most successful trios in NBA history. They hold the league record for regular season wins (575) and post-season wins (126).
Although he opted to go out without fanfare — just as he played — Duncan did speak Wednesday with an interviewer from Vi Vid Streaming radio of the Virgin Islands, opening up on his thoughts about retirement.
“I started not enjoying myself as much. It wasn’t fun as much,” Duncan said of the decision. “When it’s not fun anymore, I’m done.”
Asked about where he ranks among the game’s greats, Duncan said: “I don’t care where you rank me, but I know I’m in the conversation.”
Duncan was praised this week by longtime coach Gregg Popovich for a work ethic that made him the first to show up at practice and the last to leave.
Now that those demands are over, Duncan said, he doesn’t know just how his life will unfold, although he expects it to include more time with his family.
“There is no script for the first time in 20-something years,” Duncan said.