Athlete in Focus: Tim Duncan

Duncan Championships

Spurs’ Tim Duncan stands during the national anthem prior to the start of the Western Conference Playoffs First Round Game 1 against the Mavericks Saturday April 18, 2009 at the AT&T Center. Edward A. Ornelas/ZUMA Press/Newscom. License this image from Newscom.com: zumaamericaseight520238

In the NBA the ring is the thing and once you got one you want the second and third. As Tim Duncan’s career nears an end he is looking to bolster his hall-of-fame resume with a fifth championship ring with the Spurs. To add that fifth ring Duncan and the Spurs will have to go through LeBron James and the Heat, the team that kept it from them last year.

Growing up in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Duncan had no interest in basketball he instead had dreams of going to the Olympics as a swimmer. He excelled at swimming and was building to a spot on the 1992 US Swimming team until Hurricane Hugo destroyed the only Olympic pool on the island in 1989. Duncan tried to swim in the ocean but a fear of sharks forced him to give up swimming and pick up basketball.

Duncan played his first year of basketball in the 9th grade. He was very tall and athletic but it was an awkward transition for Duncan to make. By his senior year of high school Duncan had become a standout player averaging 25 points a game. His play got the attention of a number of universities before he decided to attend Wake Forest.

Duncan Slam Dunk

Virginia’s Chris Alexander (30) watches helplessly as Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan (21) slams the ball home during first half action of their game in the opening round of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro. Jim Stratford UPI Photo Service/Newscom. License this image from Newscom.com: upiphotos039219

At Wake Forest Duncan continued to excel and got the attention of NBA scouts who named him one of the most eligible NBA prospects going into his sophomore year. Unlike the majority of other NBA prospects Duncan said he would not leave school early and indeed played four years for the Demon Deacons. After four years of school, Duncan earned his degree in psychology fulfilling a promise he made to his mother who died of breast cancer when he was only 14.

1997 NBA Draft Day

NBA Commissioner David Stern congratulates Tim Duncan as the San Antonio Spurs selected the former Wake Forest center as the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft Wednesday night in Charlotte, North Carolina. Duncan, who averaged 20.8 points and led the nation in rebounding with 14.7 per game, became the first college senior to be chosen No. 1 overall since Larry Johnson in 1991. CHRISTOPHER A. RECORD KRT/Newscom. License this image from Newscom.com: krtphotos062400

In 1997 Duncan entered the draft and was selected first overall by the injury plagued Spurs. Duncan started his career playing alongside 1987 first overall pick David Robinson. The paring of Robinson and Duncan gave the Spurs the best frontcourt in the NBA. The pair got San Antonio back on the winning path and helped the team win their first NBA Championship in 1999. The pair then won a second championship together in 2003.

2003 Spurs Championship

San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan (L) holds the MVP trophy as teammate David Robinson holds the NBA Championship trophy after the Spurs defeated the New Jersey Nets, 88-77 during Game 6 of the NBA Finals June 15, 2003 in San Antonio, Texas. MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS/Newscom. License this image from Newscom.com: rtrlive502799

Following the retirement of Robinson, Duncan became the face of the Spurs franchise along with Tony Parker and Manu Ginóbili. The big three would go on to win two more championships and consistently finish near the top of the NBA. In what could be their last Championship push together they got off to a good start beating the Heat in the sweltering AT&T center when the AC went out. However as last year proved the Heat aren’t done until the final buzzer a fact the Duncan and the Spurs haven’t forgot.

For more photos of Tim Duncan check out Newscom.

Lakers Spurs Basketball

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) takes the ball past San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan, right, in the first half at Staples Center in Los Angeles. LORI SHEPLER/UPI/Newscom. License this image from Newscom.com: upiphotostwo232655

Duncan greets fans

San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan holds the NBA Championship Trophy as he greet fans upon the team’s arrival at the airport in San Antonio, Texas Friday June 15, 2007. The Spurs won their 4th NBA Championship by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers Thursday. Erich Schlegel/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom. License this image from Newscom.com: zumaamericassix260995

Duncan Drive

The Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green defends against the San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan (21) in the second quarter at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, on Friday, February 22, 2013. Dan Honda/MCT/Newscom. License this image from Newscom.com: krtphotoslive601493

Duncan introduction

Spurs’ Tim Duncan (center) is introduced prior to the game with the Grizzlies at the AT&T Center. Edward A. Ornelas/ZUMA Press/Newscom. License this image from Newscom.com: zumaamericastwo560122

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