Tim Duncan is undoubtedly one of the finest NBA legends. Interestingly, basketball was not his first love, but he eventually became an incredible talent. Duncan’s venture in sports started with swimming, but his fear of sharks led him to a $242 million basketball career.
Growing up in the U.S. Virgin Islands, he was surrounded by water, which influenced his interest in swimming when he was only five years old. He even wanted to represent the Virgin Islands at the Olympics, although his records have been lost to history.
“I was having fun with it, and I was really good at it at the time,” he said in a video. “I used to swim anywhere from 5,000 meters to 8,000 meters a day, six days a week. I expected at some point to be in the Olympics representing the Virgin Islands.”
However, his swimming career was put on hold due to Hurricane Hugo, which caused damage in the Caribbean, destroying the local Olympic-sized swimming pool. The lack of a pool led him to move his swims to the ocean. But he had one fear — sharks. This eventually led him to abandon his swimming career to pursue basketball.
No sooner did Duncan decide to pursue a career in basketball than he lost his mother to breast cancer. His mother’s wish was for him to finish college, and in pursuit of a college degree, he found solace on the court, according to Sportscasting.
He became a rising star at the age of 16 after outplaying Alonzo Morning. He left a mark at Wake Forest despite not winning a national title. He averaged 16.4 points and 12.3 rebounds during his four collegiate seasons and eventually took home the 1997 John Wooden Award as Men’s Player of the Year and earned a psychology degree, Sportscasting said. After college, the San Antonio Spurs drafted Duncan first overall in the 1997 NBA Draft and he ultimately became one of the best in the league.
He spent 19 years with the Spurs, helped the Spurs win five titles, earned more than $242 million, and will officially enter the Basketball Hall of Fame. Nicknamed “The Big Fundamental”, Duncan was one of four players to be named NBA Finals MVP at least three times. He also became one of only three players to win at least 1,000 games in his career. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Robert Parrish are the other two.