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Legendary NBA big man Tim Duncan retires after 19 seasons

By Ryan Wolstat, Toronto Sun

LAS VEGAS — We will never see another Tim Duncan.

Players anywhere close to his caliber don’t stick around for four years of college, like Duncan did at Wake Forest. They don’t play 19 dominant seasons and win championships in three different decades, or win three Finals MVP awards or five titles either.

And they definitely, if they are anywhere as close to as talented as Duncan, do it all as quietly and out of the spotlight as the San Antonio Spurs big man did for so many years.

Even the retirement announcement was typical Duncan. A press release and a media conference to come that he won’t attend.

Duncan, really, was the polar opposite to his contemporary, Kobe Bryant, who also retired after this past season. He eschewed drawing attention to himself, never forced the action on the court and was always a beloved teammate.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver called Duncan “one of the most dominant players in NBA history" in a statement, adding he had earned a place amongst the league’s all-time greats and was, “the ultimate teammate.”

Hard to argue that. Duncan certainly leaves as one of the best the NBA has ever seen and his steady presence and standard-setting on and off the court made the Spurs the league’s most enduring and successful franchise over the past two decades.

In fact, since Duncan was drafted in 1997, no team in any sport can match San Antonio’s .710 winning percentage.

“Even tho I knew it was coming, I’m still moved by the news. What a HUGE honor to have played with him for 14 seasons!” tweeted Manu Ginobili.

“Timmy D. Say it ain’t so!!! Greatest power forward ever!” added Dirk Nowitzki, one of the few remaining players that competed in the 1990s (led by Kevin Garnett).

It’s impossible to know where to start when looking at Duncan’s numbers. He collected the sixth-most win shares ever, could not be stopped on offence in his prime and was an elite defender even into his final season. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, stayed effective as long as Duncan did.

Thon Maker, who is entering the NBA out of high school was asked here Monday one thing he’d ask Duncan: “How he made it so long,” Maker said.

A lot of people are wondering just that and whether Duncan could have even returned for more. He still would have been good, but good, is not enough for a player of Duncan’s ilk and off he goes, into retirement.

Don’t expect to hear much from him.

TURNING HEADS

It’s still early, but a number of player have really made a mark so far in Vegas.

Second-year Suns guard Devin Booker has to be near the top of the list after averaging 26 points, 6.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds through two games. Booker also didn’t back down when opponents tried to get physical with him, jawing right back and going at everybody.

Rookie forward Marquesse Chriss also stood out for the Suns because of his athleticism. No. 4 pick Dragan Bender hasn’t looked good yet, but Phoenix is building a strong stable of young talent.

Wolves point guard Kris Dunn has been tremendous, other than his shooting, and his competitive drive, size and ability will take him far.

Maker had his worst game yet on Monday, but still had his moments and has surprised a lot of people with his adjustment so far.

Houston’s Sam Dekker has returned from a season lost to injury in style and Norman Powell had another good game for the Raptors on Monday.

Top pick Ben Simmons even hit a few jump shots while flashing his impressive all-around game on Sunday.

“He’s like a mini-LeBron,” gushed AP NCAA player of the year Denzel Valentine, after matching up with him.

GREEN ARRESTED

Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green was arrested on assault charges in Lansing, Mich., on Sunday.

Police told ESPN there were no injuries and a report alleged Green slapped a male. He was released on $200 bond.

The Warriors issued a statement about the incident, saying, “We are aware of news involving Draymond Green in Michigan over the weekend. At this point, we are collecting information and will have no further comment until we have a better understanding of the situation.”

HELLO, ARGENTINA

The Raptors made inroads into Argentina by employing and starting one of that country’s legends, Luis Scola, last season. It is highly unlikely that Scola will return next season, but the team will host Argentinean squad San Lorenzo de Almagro at the ACC on Oct. 14 for a pre-season contest nevertheless.

It will be the first game ever between an NBA club and one from that South American hoops hotbed.

San Lorenzo de Almagro is coming off of a championship season.

This will be Toronto’s ninth game hosting a non-North American team, with the most recent being Israel’s Maccabi Haifa in 2014.

AROUND THE RIM

Newly extended Houston Rockets star James Harden isn’t convinced Golden State’s superteam — headline by his good friend Kevin Durant — will work: “Obviously the Warriors are a really good team ... but there’s only one basketball. You’ve got to figure it out,” Harden said after agreeing to his extension … Saturday’s attendance of 16,208 was a new single-day record at NBA Summer League, crushing last year’s mark of 12,422 … Ex-Raptor James Johnson is getting a raise. His $4 million contract with Miami, signed Sunday is an improvement over the $2.5 million he earned with the Raptors, though he got two years with Toronto, just one with Miami.