Tim Duncan, drafted in 1997 by the San Antonio Spurs, won his 954th game last night against the New York Knicks, adding 16 points and 10 rebounds. He passed John Stockton of the Utah Jazz for the top spot on the list of NBA players with wins with the same team, leaving Stockton and former Jazz great Karl Malone in the top 3.
The likelihood of any other player coming close to Duncan’s record of success with a single team is unlikely. Free agency and the lure of big contracts for young players routinely move promising stars from team to team and few find such a workable formula like the one in San Antonio.
The small-market Spurs have found a formula that works under head coach Gregg Popovich. The Spurs develop talent and draft players wisely under a system that has been wildly successful and kept one of the best “Big 3” trios in major professional sports intact for a collective 541 victories thus far (Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker).
Duncan has been one of the most consistently underrated players in the league, despite making 15 all-star teams, winning the league’s Most Valuable Player award twice, and leading the Spurs to five NBA titles. With Duncan’s solid play and contributions so far this season, averaging over 11 points and 8 rebounds a game, it looks like a 1,000 wins with the Spurs is a possibility.