11. Timmy says goodbye on his own terms
Although the year may have closed out with a more traditional ceremony to mark the retirement of his jersey, Tim Duncan‘s actual decision to retire was just as unexpected as we’d always expected it to be.
Famed for his stoic, business-like demeanor, even the most casual of NBA fans could have predicted Duncan’s eventual retirement coming as a bolt out of the blue with no farewell tours, lengthy statements or emotional goodbyes, and so it proved to be.
Duncan’s final game came in a series-closing 14-point defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. With the Spurs trailing by 26 entering the fourth quarter, Duncan was instrumental in one last rally as San Antonio threatened to get back within single digits and make it a nervy finish for their hosts. It wasn’t to be, though.
And so, how does it end for one of the game’s all-time greats and almost certainly the best player to ever play the power forward position? Just like it did in every other game. Duncan exchanged congratulations and pleasantries with his opponents before striding off the court in his own familiar gait.
A brief wave to the reverent Oklahoma City fans may have been a giveaway, but until it was official there was little point in second-guessing the mind of Tim Duncan. He had always been one to do his own thing, and in retiring, things were no different.