Over the course of his 17 year career, Tim Duncan’s contemporaries have ranged from Kevin Garnett, David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Robert Parish, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The 38-year-old — nicknamed The Big Fundamental by Shaq back when Bill Clinton was still in the White House — is on track to be the best player since Michael Jordan, and after spending his entire career in San Antonio, as well as being one of only two players to win NBA titles in three different decades (the other being John Salley) and the only one to win a title with the same team 15 years apart. He is almost certainly the best power forward to play the game, even if he spent a large portion of his career as the de facto center.
This is a long way of saying that, had Duncan retired at the end of an absolutely dominant 2014, no one would have blinked an eye. Nothing puts a cap on a career quite like bookending it with championships, and regardless of how much of a bummer its going to be when Timmy D finally hangs it up — he’s up there with Kobe and Shaq as far as superstars that defined an era – you couldn’t begrudge him the opportunity to go out on top. But, of course, he didn’t. Duncan opted in to the last year on his contract, signing on for an 18th NBA season and $10.3 million.
Each member of San Antonio’s core group, which includes Duncan as well as Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, will be back for the upcoming NBA season to defend their title. The band’s staying together, in other words, and the rest of the league is on notice.