1997 Draft Night
In the 1997 NBA draft, the San Antonio Spurs received the number one pick after experiencing a tough season due to injuries to key their key players, David Robinson and Sean Elliot. Although, there would be no such seasons from that point on as the Spurs chose Tim Duncan with the number one overall pick of the draft. The fit could not be any better with Robinson providing mentorship and coach Greg Popovich setting his big man up for success, per usual giving his great knowledge of the game.
It was a defining moment early on in the career of Duncan to be drafted by San Antonio because if he would have gone elsewhere who knows if the same level of success would stand true. Of course there was no doubting his talent after four years at Wake Forest University, but having a Hall of Fame center like Robinson to learn from and a coach like Popovich to give him the understanding of the game played a vital factor in forming the dominant player he became. There was no doubt that the Spurs were optimizing Duncan’s talent as he earned Rookie of the Year demonstrating what was to come.
First Championship (1999 NBA Finals)
Once entering the league, every player dreams of becoming NBA champion and the first one can be the sweetest of them all. In 1999 Tim Duncan got a taste of what it feels like to be champion for the first time in his career, in only his second year in the league. In a shortened 50 game league season – due to a lockout – the Spurs finished with a 37-13 record, which earned them the top seed in the Western Conference.
During the postseason, Duncan averaged 23.2 points and 11.5 rebounds to help the Spurs cruise into the NBA finals with one mere loss in the previous three rounds of the playoffs. The Spurs came up against the New York Knicks in the 1999 NBA finals and it went no differently for San Antonio as it had gone in the previous rounds. The San Antonio Spurs dominated and won the title in five short games. Duncan helped the franchise earn their first championship and was named the NBA Finals MVP after averaging 27.4 points, 14 rebounds and 2.2 blocks throughout the course of the five games.
First League MVP (2002)
In the 2001-2002 season Tim Duncan earned league MVP for the first time in his career. He averaged 25.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks during the season while shooting 50% from the field. The only disappointment in the season came in the playoffs as they were eliminated in the Western Conference semi-finals at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. But at a time when Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were in the midst of dominating the league with the Lakers, it was hard for any team to knock them off the top spot. Furthermore, Duncan went on to win the league MVP award once again the following season as a testament to his elite level of play. This was only the beginning of what Duncan would achieve in his great 19-year career in the NBA. Undoubtedly a hall of famer and one of the greatest players centers to play.