When Tim Duncan announced to the world on July 11 that he would not return for a 20th season with the Spurs, one of the most compelling questions for Spurs fans, beyond the obvious – “What will they do without him?” – focused on when the team would honor the great power forward by retiring his No. 21 jersey.
On Wednesday morning, the Spurs ended the suspense.
The tipoff for the game, to be televised by Fox Sports Southwest, is scheduled for 6 p.m. The game and ceremony also are to be streamed live on FOX Sports GO.
Duncan’s jersey will join those of seven other players whose jersey have been retired, including four of his former teammates: David Robinson (50), Avery Johnson (6), Sean Elliott (32), and Bruce Bowen (12). The other retired numbers are those of George Gervin (44), James Silas (13), and Johnny Moore (00).
Gervin and Robinson have been inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and Duncan is considered a certainty for Hall of Fame enshrinement once he is eligible in 2021. Hall of Fame eligibility rules require players to wait five years after retirement before they can be considered for enshrinement.
The first overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, Duncan played 19 seasons with the Spurs, leading them to six NBA Finals, five of which produced NBA championship titles. The Spurs compiled a 1,072-438 regular-season record during his 19 seasons, a .710 winning percentage that is the best 19-year stretch in NBA history. He led the Spurs to the playoffs in each of his 19 seasons and became the only player in league history to start and win a title in three different decades. The Spurs won at least 50 games in his last 17 seasons, the longest streak in league history, and posted a win percentage of at least .600 in each of his 19 seasons, an all-time record for most consecutive .600 win percentages in the four major U.S. sports.
In his final season, Duncan became the third player in league history to reach 1,000 career wins and the only player to reach 1,000 wins with one team. He helped the Spurs attain a franchise-best 67-15 record and also became just the second player in NBA history to record at least 26,000 points, 15,000 rebounds and 3,000 blocks in his career, joining all-time NBA scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Duncan was selected to 15 All-NBA Teams, tied for most all-time; and 15 NBA All-Defensive Teams, most all-time. He was the 1998 Rookie of the Year, was named NBA MVP twice (2002, 2003), and NBA Finals MVP three times (1999, 2003, and 2005).
A 15-time All-Star, Duncan appeared in a total of 1,392 games and averaged 19.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.17 blocks in an average of 34.0 minutes. He shot 50.6% (10,285-20,334) from the floor and 69.6% (5,896-8,468) from the free throw line.
A graduate of Wake Forest University, where he was NCAA Player of the Year in 1996-97, Duncan is the Spurs all-time NBA leader in total points (26,496), rebounds (15,091), blocked shots (3,020), minutes (47,368), and games played (1,392), as well as third in assists (4,225). In NBA history, Duncan is fifth all-time in double-doubles (841) and blocks, sixth in rebounding, and 14th in scoring.
As the only player in NBA history to play over 9,000 career minutes in the playoffs, Duncan ranks first all-time in postseason double-doubles (164) and blocks (568), third in rebounds (2,859), and sixth in points (5,172). During his career, Duncan appeared in 251 postseason games (second all-time) and averaged 20.6 points, 11.4 rebound, and 3.0 assists in 37.3 minutes.
The Spurs have a limited number of multi-game ticket plan options that include tickets to the Dec. 18 game that are available by calling 210-444-5050. Tickets can also be purchased through Ticketmaster’s verified resale marketplace, NBATickets.com.
The online aftermarket for tickets to the Dec. 18 game went wild after the club announced that the jersey retirement ceremony would take place afterwards. Within minutes after the press release was issued, the price for upper balcony tickets for the game went from $44 to $265 on StubHub.com, a popular aftermarket ticket site. By early afternoon, some courtside seats were going for more than $5,000 on Stub Hub.
In all likelihood, there are a lot of Spurs fans willing to pay nearly any price to see Duncan’s jersey raised to the rafters.