Tim Duncan played each of his 19 NBA seasons in San Antonio, but it appears the future Hall of Famer strongly considered leaving the Spurs early in his career.
During Tuesday’s Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns game, Clippers color analyst and former NBA forward Bruce Bowen revealed that Duncan, with whom he played eight seasons in San Antonio, was all set to join the Orlando Magic as a free agent in 2000 to play alongside All-Stars Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill.
While front office executives, coaches and players typically do whatever it takes to coax a marquee free agent to join their respective team, Doc Rivers apparently didn’t do the best job in pitching Duncan. Rivers, who coached the Magic at the time, apparently wasn’t willing to bend his team rules for the star forward.
“One thing Gregg Popovich didn’t do is screw it up with Tim Duncan,” Bowen said, as transcribed by ForTheWin. “I remember when Tim was a free agent and he was thinking about going to Orlando when Doc was there … when Tim went out to meet with Orlando, he asked this question: Can family come on the flights to some games. And from what I understand, Doc said, ‘no’ and that’s where he lost Tim Duncan.”
It turned out to be a great decision by Duncan. After re-signing with the Spurs in 2000, he went on to become the face of the franchise for the next decade-plus, winning four championships, three Finals MVPs and two MVP Awards. The Magic, on the other hand, never made it past the first round of the playoffs during Rivers’ tenure as coach.
Duncan often has been called “The Big Fundamental,” and he certainly made a fundamentally sound decision to stay in San Antonio for the duration of his legendary career.
Thumbnail photo via Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports Images