Tim Duncan will be named today as the NBA’s most valuable player, becoming the first player since Michael Jordan in 1991 and ’92 to win the award in consecutive seasons. Neither Duncan nor the league would confirm that fact Saturday, but the deal is done, according to published reports.
The San Antonio Spurs had no comment, not wishing to spoil ABC’s exclusive made-for-TV announcement during the network’s telecast of Game 7 of the Dallas Maverick-Portland Trail Blazer first-round series today.
The Spurs play host to the Lakers in Games 1 and 2 of their second-round series Monday and Wednesday. Duncan had 15 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists -- his fourth career triple-double -- during the Spurs’ opening series-clinching victory Thursday over the Phoenix Suns.
A San Antonio official said Duncan was unavailable to speak to reporters after the Spurs’ workout Saturday afternoon. Coach Gregg Popovich, who was named last week as the league’s coach of the year, also declined to comment.
It didn’t stop several of his teammates from praising Duncan, who led the Spurs to the league’s best record at 60-22 and averaged 23.3 points on 51.3% shooting with career bests of 12.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.9 blocks in 81 games.
Duncan faced strong competition from Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal of the Lakers, Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers and Tracy McGrady of the Orlando Magic. The Spurs said their starting power forward was a clear winner, however.
This is to be center David Robinson’s 14th and final NBA season, and he sounded honored Saturday to have played six of those seasons with Duncan, with the pair winning a league championship together in 1999.
“Tim’s been phenomenal for us,” said Robinson, who will retire at season’s end. “He’s maybe the smartest player in the league. He takes whatever you give him. You play him on the drive and he’ll hit the jumper on you. You play the jumper and he’ll drive on you. [Winning the MVP award twice] means you’re at the top of your game for a very long stretch. It’s indisputable. Tim’s had a great year. He’s got some great players playing against him. Kevin Garnett had a great year. Kobe had a great year. Tracy McGrady had an unbelievable year. Wow.”
Or as forward Bruce Bowen put it, “That’s a beautiful thing. It says a lot because it wasn’t like they just gave it to him. He put in the work. He deserves it.”
A sweet bank shot from the perimeter and a sound all-around game took Duncan from the Virgin Islands to Wake Forest to the NBA’s Spurs and now to a place no player has stood since Jordan in 1991 and ’92.
“I’m so happy for him,” guard Stephen Jackson said of Duncan. “We wouldn’t be where we are without him. He’s the very definition of an MVP. He comes out every night and plays with the same energy.”