On Sunday, Tim Duncan continued to haunt the city of Boston, just as he has done from the day in 1997 when the ping-pong ball avoided the leagues’ worst team, the Celtics, and landed for San Antonio. Duncan was drafted first overall that season and since then, the Spurs have won 5 NBA championships and Boston, just one.
Yesterday, Duncan defeated the Celtics, both new and old, with a 95-87 win at the Boston Garden. Not only did his Spurs win the game, but Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili passed Hall of Famers Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish as the winningest three teammates in league history, with their 541st victory.
Together they have won five championships in 14 seasons and combined have 23 all-star appearances, Two seasons ago they defeated the LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh version of the ‘Big Three’ in the NBA Finals, and yesterday defeated the original ‘Big Three.’ There is no doubt now who truly owns claim to that title now, the winningest group in league records.
Duncan, like Bird, is the figurehead of the ‘Big Three.’ The ageless veteran has dominated the league for 18 seasons. He is a 3-time NBA Finals MVP, a 2-time league MVP, 15-time all-star and a 10-time All-NBA first team member. When his career is eventually over, he will gone down in the history books as one of the most successful athletes in professional sports.
In Boston, fans are use to the history of the Celtics being much greater than the present, and the banners from decades ago are constant reminders of all the great players who have gone through the franchise. Had the ping-pong ball fallen their way in 1997, perhaps there would be another handful of championships, rather than just one. Instead, the Spurs were fortunate in that draft and since have tallied a record of 1,005-424, which ironically is just second behind the New England Patriots in greatest winning percentage over that time of all the professional sports franchises.
In the first game that Duncan started as a rookie against the Celtics, he put up 23 points and 15 rebounds in 38 minute of a 101-87 victory. Since then the Spurs have defeated Boston in 27 of 34 their meetings, including the first 17 of Duncan’s career.
Duncan, Ginobili and Parker have defeated Celtics’ All-Stars such as Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Dee Brown, Antoine Walker, and Rajon Rondo, and now they have taken down Bird, McHale, and Parish.
They didn’t just do it against the Celtics, but they did it in Boston, they city where veteran fans still reminisce about those1980s championships and all of the great moments associated with those trios. Duncan has had a storybook career, and it is fitting that this were to happen in Boston.
It was inevitable that these three were going to get their 541st win this season, but doing so in the city where Bird, McHale and Parish are legends, just added salt into the Duncan wound for Boston.
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