For thousands if not millions of years natural disasters have occurred on planet Earth causing humans to adapt and adjust to at times it’s devastating aftermath. In September of 1989, Hurricane Hugo swept through the Caribbean causing over 10 billion dollars in damage and killing over 100 people in it’s wake. Hugo affected millions of lives but one of the most notable to have been affected by its devastation was Tim Duncan.
Duncan retired from the NBA this past Monday after 19 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs where he won 5 NBA Championships, 2 Most Valuable Player awards, 3 NBA Finals MVP awards and NBA Rookie of the Year award. Not a bad career. Duncan will undoubtedly be a first ballot Hall of Famer and is known by his peers and predecessors as the greatest power forward ever to play the game. But we may have never met Big Timmy had Hurricane Hugo not ravaged his native Virgin Islands.
Prior to Hugo rearing it’s head in September of 1989, Tim Duncan had aspirations to follow in the footsteps of his older sister Tricia who was a swimmer and had represented the Virgin Islands in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke in the 1988 Olympics. But after Hugo destroyed the only olympic size swimming pool on the island, Duncan’s swim team was forced to move their practices to the ocean. Just so has it that Duncan was afraid of sharks and decided that it was in his best interest to switch to another sport. Duncan would turn to his brother-in-law who had played basketball in college and proceeded to teach him the game. The rest is history.
Fast forward to 2016 and the impact that Tim Duncan has left on the game of basketball is astronomical. The humble Duncan brought integrity to the NBA when it needed it most. The NBA late 1990’s and early 2000’s was highlighted by players getting into melees on the court and misdemeanors off of it. Duncan spent four years at Wake Forest earning his degree psychology while at the time many players were jumping from the high school ranks to the NBA with hopes of cashing in. Duncan would eventually cash in in 1997 when he selected number overall in the NBA Draft and proceeded to with the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Duncan’s talents impacted the NBA game immediately and NBA veterans took notice. During the 1997 season following a game against the Houston Rockets, future Hall of Famer Charles Barkley was quoted saying “I have seen the future and he wears number 21”.
Duncan was given the nickname “The Big Fundamental” for his on court savvy which included a repertoire of hook shots, bank shots, bounce pass and blocks. Duncan played the right way as he kept his emotions in check on the court, credited his teammates for the team’s success, and was a pillar off the court in the community.
Duncan was an oasis of humility in a league that is predicated by narcissistic, ego driven players. Hopefully it’s sooner rather than later that American sports fans are blessed with an athlete who has the candor and virtue that Duncan possesses.