Charles Barkley predicted big things for Tim Duncan after their first NBA matchup
"I didn’t know he had that type of game"

Charles Barkley predicted big things for Tim Duncan after their first NBA matchup

The first time Charles Barkley faced Tim Duncan was in one of the ’97/’98 preseason games when the Houston Rockets went up against the Spurs.

Unfortunately, there’s no game log available online, as the final result of their first NBA matchup remains unknown. However, I managed to stumble upon a quote by Barkley that says more than enough about his first time playing a 21-year-old rookie Duncan.

“I’ve seen the future and he wears No. 21. I didn’t know he had that type of game. He was much better than I expected.”

Charles Barkley

It took only one game for Barkley to realize Duncan was a unique talent, and all he did after is prove Chuck was right. The same can be said about Patrick Ewing, who also faced Duncan in a ’97 preseason contest. Fortunately for us, a game recap is available for this one.

The Spurs beat New York 97-90, moving to 2-0 in the preseason behind Duncan’s 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists against Big Pat. Rookie big man also hit a left-handed hook in the lane with 47.8 seconds, ending the Knicks’ comeback attempt. It’s safe to say 35-year-old Ewing was impressed.

Michael Jordan is another one who didn’t take long to recognize Duncan’s all-time great potential. Here’s what he said about the Spurs’ power forward during one of his camps after Timmy’s rookie campaign in the NBA.

There are a lot of guys who take some time adjusting to the NBA level of play. Duncan wasn’t one of those guys. Joining the league at 21 sure helped him, maturity-wise at least. But the skill was always there, and Barkley, Jordan, and Ewing recognized it right away.

An all-time great NBA resume proves they were right.