Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Spurs Retire Duncan’s Jersey

Dec 18, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; Former San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan
Dec 18, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; Former San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan /

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons received an indirect honor when the San Antonio Spurs retired the jersey of alum Tim Duncan.

For the longest time, Wake Forest Demon Deacons alum and star Tim Duncan was a staple of the NBA. He wasn’t flashy but he simply got the job done and by the time his nineteen years in the NBA were up, Duncan had collected five NBA titles and set a standard at his position. Ironically the power forward position has evolved away from Duncan’s style in recent years.

Last night, Duncan was able to add an additional honor to his resume. His jersey was retired. The number 21 Duncan jersey now hangs in the rafters in San Antonio. This would be only the beginning of the post-career honors for Duncan. He will most certainly end up in the Naismith Hall of Fame when the waiting period is over.

Duncan has a good a claim as any to be the best player of his generation. It is just defining the generation that gets kind of interesting. Normally he is thought off with Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Allen Iverson, Dirk Nowitzki, and Vince Carter. This group and a handful of others dominated the court in the late nineties and early oughts. They partially fought off the next generation as they held off a LeBron James takeover of the league until his second Miami Heat season.

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Would you rather have Duncan or Bryant? With both retired, I would have to take Duncan. He was the more complete player and able to play within a team concept. Blocked shots, passing, and defense were all things that Duncan lent to the teams that he quietly led.

Duncan was also so consistent. He was All-NBA his first eight seasons in the league. He won a title before the Lakers Dynasty. He won a title after the Super Heat had won their two. There are three more titles between the two. He also sacrificed his earning potential to prolong the Spurs’ window at the end of his career. With the arrival of LaMarcus Aldridge and the development of Kawhi Leonard, that window has extended beyond his own career.