The Spurs fell hard after their Western Conference Semifinals loss to the Utah Jazz.
Their franchise player, David Robinson, played only six games that season due to back injuries. Sean Elliot also spent much of the season injured. The Spurs' leading scorer that season was 37-YEAR OLD Dominique Wilkins. Let that sink in for a moment.
The lost season for San Antonio came to a merciful end, as it finished with a 20-62 record.
The injuries turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it led to the drafting of Duncan with the No. 1 overall pick. He joined a group of veterans on their way to their first ever championship. The Spurs have never looked back since then—the organization won a total of four championships.
The Big Fundamental brought a winning tradition to a franchise that appeared destined to drown in mediocrity.
On the court, Duncan often outsmarts his opponents with his combination of excellent footwork and fundamentally sound offensive game. His quiet intensity is often hidden behind his even keel demeanor. No, he doesn’t pound his chest nor does he make scowling faces at his opponents, and this has caused many fans to label him “boring."
Trust me—if you have had the chance to listen to Duncan on the sidelines, you would know he is just as competitive as any other player in the league.
It is such a shame that Duncan is one of the most taken-for-granted superstars to ever play in the league. He is the greatest power forward to ever play the game, yet very few people watch him. His team-first approach is what we all desire out of all of our superstars, yet Duncan’s selflessness is often overlooked.
We ask that superstars possess generosity and good character, combined with polished skills on the court. But when that package came into the league in the form of Duncan, we pushed him away. Indeed, it is a vicious cycle that will continue to feast upon the basketball world. We will continue to wonder why there aren’t as many selfless stars while ignoring a player of Duncan’s persona.
The league will never see a once in a generation player as egoless as this 15-year veteran out of Wake Forest.