26 Years Ago Today, Tim Duncan Crowned His Historic Rookie Season


In the late 1990s, the San Antonio Spurs were on the cusp of greatness. Their fortunes changed dramatically when they selected Tim Duncan as the first overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. Little did they know that this unassuming power forward would transform their franchise and become one of the greatest players in basketball history.

With Duncan (and a healthy David Robinson), the Spurs finished the 1997-98 regular season with a remarkable record of 56-26. This represented a 36-win improvement over their lackluster performance in the previous season, in which Robinson was injured for a long time, which made the Spurs winning the lottery possible in the fist place. The synergy between Duncan and Robinson was evident, creating a formidable frontcourt duo that opponents struggled to contain.

Duncan’s rookie statistics were nothing short of astonishing. In 82 games, he averaged: 21.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.5 blocks per game, while shooting 55% from the field.

His impact extended beyond the box score. Duncan’s basketball IQ, defensive prowess, and unselfish play elevated the entire team. He was a force on both ends of the court, altering shots, grabbing boards, and executing precise post moves.

Duncan’s stellar performance earned him a well-deserved spot in the 1998 NBA All-Star Game. It was a testament to his immediate impact and the respect he garnered from fellow players and fans alike.

Then, 26 years ago today, on April 27, 1998, the NBA officially recognized Tim Duncan’s brilliance by naming him the Rookie of the Year. His dominance was unprecedented. Not only did he win the award, but he also became the first rookie since Larry Bird in 1980 to be selected to the All-NBA First Team.



Tim Duncan’s rookie season set the stage for a legendary career. His fundamental skills, work ethic, and humility endeared him to fans worldwide. Over the years, he would lead the Spurs to five NBA championships, earning the nickname “The Big Fundamental.

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