We all knew it was coming at some point, we just did not know when it would be. Tim Duncan has officially retired from NBA basketball. It is a tough day for NBA fans, and especially Spurs fans. Tim Duncan has been the face of the Spurs franchise ever since he entered the league in 1997. 19 seasons, 5 NBA titles, and 2 MVP awards later, Duncan will go down as one of the greatest players in NBA history.
Tim Duncan provided a veteran leadership over his final few seasons that helped instill some will to win in the players around him, especially in Kawhi Leonard. Leonard came into the league in 2011 and made an impact very early in his career thanks to Duncan’s leadership.
Leonard, learning the ways under Duncan, earned himself his first NBA ring as well as the Finals MVP in 2014. Leonard came into the league as a sort of unknown. He quickly learned how to become a consistent scorer and even better defender, but because of how humble he is, you wouldn’t know it. His humble ways made him one of Duncan’s favorite players to teach and mentor because of how well they could relate.
With how good Duncan has been in his career, he has not been one to be in the spotlight, or be boastful. Most players who are two-time MVP’s and five-time NBA champions have that kind of swagger present at all times. Tim Duncan was different. Duncan kept his humble and quiet ways throughout his career and it made a perfect match when Leonard was selected by the Spurs.
With Duncan now gone, Leonard has the responsibility of calling the Spurs his team. I say that this is his team and not LaMarcus Aldridge’s because of what Leonard has gone through with the Spurs — already playing in two Finals, compared to Aldridge who has not played in one yet, becomes a big factor in leadership. Leonard knows what it’s like to be there, on the big stage. After finishing second in the 2016 MVP voting, Leonard has every reason to say that this is his team. He will still have the veteran leadership around him with the addition of Pau Gasol and still having Tony Parker on the team. It will make the transition that much easier for him. The Spurs will be perfectly fine without Duncan, but it will be interesting to see how Leonard takes the reigns of this team. He can now create a little fire under his belt with him now being the undisputed number one guy.