SAN ANTONIO — Legendary Tim Duncan, the only Spur to play on all five of the franchise's five championship teams, has been selected as the eighth-best player in NBA history by a panel of ESPN experts.
With the NBA at a standstill because of the coronavirus pandemic, ESPN picked the NBA's top 74 players to coincide with the league's 74th anniversary on June 6. The experts voted on "thousands" of matchups and took into consideration total career value and peak performance, ESPN said.
Duncan, who played 19 seasons with San Antonio before retiring in 2016, has been selected for enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with the Class of 2020.
Duncan finished ahead of two former Los Angeles Lakers rivals, the late Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, on the ESPN list of NBA greats. Bryant was ranked No. 9 and O'Neal was 10th.
Six other Spurs – No. 24 David Robinson, No. 25 Kawhi Leonard, No. 47 George Gervin, No. 58 Manu Ginobili, No. 70 Tony Parker and No. 74 Artis Gilmore – made the list. Robinson, Gervin and Gilmore are in the Hall of Fame.
Boston Celtics icon Larry Bird, a three-time league MVP in the mid-1980s, finished just ahead of Duncan at No. 7 on ESPN's list.
Michael Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles in the 1990s, is No. 1 and LeBron James finished No. 2. James, who plays for the Lakers, is the only active player to crack the Top 10.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell and Magic Johnson finished third through fifth, respectively, on the list. The late Wilt Chamberlain was the other player in the Top 10, finishing No. 6.
Nicknamed "The Big Fundamental" by O'Neal, Duncan endeared himself to basketball purists with the beautiful simplicity of his game. While other players soared and rattled the rim with thunderous dunks, Duncan consistently wore down opponents with the subtleties of his game.
Duncan, 43, was selected by the Spurs with the No. 1 overall pick of the 1997 NBA Draft. Lauded for his consistency on both ends of the court, Duncan was a two-time league MVP and three-time Finals MVP.
Duncan is the Silver and Black’s all-time leader in points (26,496), rebounds (15,091), blocks (3,020), minutes (47,368) and games (1,392). In league history, he’s fifth in double-doubles (841) and blocks, sixth in rebounding and 14th in scoring.
The most celebrated player in Spurs history, Duncan was a 15-time All-NBA selection, tied for most all time with Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James, and a 15-time All-Star. Duncan also made the All-Defensive Team a record 15 times. He averaged 19.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.1 blocks and 34.0 minutes in the regular season during his career.
Duncan played in 251 playoff games, No. 2 all time, and averaged 20.6 points, 11.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 37.3 minutes.
That Duncan is entering the hall of fame with Bryant and Garnett is fitting, considering their careers paralleled. The trio combined for 11 NBA championships, 48 All-Star selections and 86,210 regular-season points.
Given its star power and production, the Class of 2020 is arguably the best in the long history of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The group also includes
"This is the end of the journey here," Duncan said after his selection. "It was an incredible career that I enjoyed so much. To call it a dream come true doesn't even do it any justice. I never dreamt that I'd be at this point."
Duncan's voice cracked with emotion as he continued.
"I played the game, enjoyed the game, loved what I did," Duncan said. "To be here now (with) the guys I'm going to be put in the hall of fame with is an amazing class."
The nine-member Class of 2020 also includes four-time National Coach of the Year Eddie Sutton, two-time NBA championship coach Rudy Tomjanovich, 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings, three-time NCAA National Championship Coach Kim Mulkey and five-time Division II National Coach of the Year Barbara Stevens.
Longtime FIBA executive Patrick Baumann also will be inducted.
The Hall's enshrinement ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 29 in Springfield, Mass., but could be moved to a later date because of the coronavirus pandemic.