A presidential perspective on Tim Duncan’s fifth championship
The San Antonio Spurs’ fifth championship meant the most to Tim Duncan, he said so himself. The championship means the Spurs are now one ring behind the Chicago Bulls for third-most franchise titles in league history (the Miami Heat would’ve tied San Antonio for fourth had they completed the three-peat).
The win also put Duncan in a rare place historically.
Two stats were flying around pretty quickly once the Spurs won Sunday night. The 15 years between Duncan’s first title and most recent is second to only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (17 years). Duncan is also one of two players to ever win titles in three different decades, with John Salley being the other.
Taking that a step further, since the Ronald Reagan administration when title teams started routinely making White House visits, Duncan joins only Horace Grant and John Salley as the only players in NBA history to win a title during three different presidential administrations. Duncan was the only one of those three players to start on all of those title teams.
Winning a title during three different administrations is so rare, only seven players total from the NBA, MLB and NFL have accomplished this task. None are from the NFL, which speaks to that league’s parity and the shorter window players have.
In baseball, you would think the number would be higher given the fact that players–relief pitchers and designated hitters, specifically–can routinely have 15-year careers. Still, only four players, all from the same team (Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees), won championships during three different administrations.
We knew this title was special, we know how unique Tim Duncan’s career has been, but this list should show help us understand just how rare it is what Duncan and the Spurs have done. In addition to being one of three NBA players to win three titles during three Presidential tenures, Duncan is also the only one to do it with the same team. Grant played for the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers while Salley was with the Detroit Pistons, then Bulls and Lakers.
Just another example that this Duncan/Popovich run is one hell of a thing.