Barkley saw the future of the NBA in Tim Duncan
Unfortunately, there's no game log available online, as the final result of their first NBA matchup remains unknown. However, I stumbled 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.”
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.
Jordan also respected Duncan early on in his career
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.