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“He’d only score 25 but it would feel like 40” — Foes and teammates reflect on Tim Duncan's signature bank shot

Lon Babby, Duncan’s former agent, explained how the shot perfectly defined the Big Fundamental’s persona.
San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan’s bank shot yielded him and the San Antonio Spurs five titles. It was the most unstoppable move during its heyday - a big reason for his nickname "the Big Fundamental." Several of Duncan’s foes and teammates shared their encounters with the Big Fundamental and the legendary bank shot.

Popovich integration

Before he donned the Spurs jersey, Michael Finley had a lot of battles against Duncan and crew. Initially, Finley thought Duncan took the bank shot because that was what the defense was giving him. When he joined the Spurs in 2005, Finley discovered the truth about Duncan’s vaunted signature shot.

And then I came to San Antonio and the first time I saw him working on it, I figured it was just a one-day thing. But, no, he worked on that shot as much as any. Different angles, different post moves, off the dribble. When we did shooting drills as a team, Pop always implemented the bank shots as one of the spots where everybody had to shoot from,” Finley said, per The Ringer.

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The fact that Gregg Popovich made his players practice the shot proves that everyone — especially those who want to be great — should have it in their bag. It also shows that it’s a shot anybody can make. According to Lon Babby, Duncan’s former agent, the shot perfectly defined the power forward’s persona.

A fundamentally sound shot, one that not many people are interested in, one that’s not glamorous. It reflected so beautifully Tim’s demeanor and personality and respect for the game,” Babby said.

Pau Gasol’s experience

Pau Gasol was one of those who had to guard Duncan’s bank shot. And like any other diligent student, the Spaniard thought of ways to counter it. To his chagrin, Duncan had a counter to those who tried to counter his bank shot.

And if you try to take it away,” Gasol said, “he would rip it through the middle, where he was lethal, either with the right-handed drive or the hook shot over the left shoulder. So you’d kind of be hoping he’d go left, but you couldn’t open up too much because then he could also finish strong that way. So it was a variety of options, and he was surrounded by other Hall of Famers and was a willing passer.

Brian Scalabrine, popularly known as the White Mamba, had an interesting insight into Duncan’s playstyle. Duncan and the Spurs were sneaky in how they snagged victories. A fastbreak opportunity punctuated by a dunk would cut off all momentum in most games. But when one faced Duncan and the Spurs, his vaunted bank shot was the one that cut all hopes and dreams.

It wasn’t like Shaq, where he’d put 40 on you and give you nightmares,” said Brian Scalabrine, a former New Jersey Nets reserve who fell to Duncan and the Spurs in the 2003 Finals. “It was different. He’d only score 25 but it would feel like 40. Anytime you’d go on a run, Pop would call for the ball to go to Tim in the post and they’d always get a bucket. It was just impossible to build any momentum against them.

These testimonies prove Duncan’s bank shot is one of the greatest signature moves of all time. It should be mentioned in the same sentence as Michael Jordan’s fadeaway, Magic Johnson’s no-look pass, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook, and Luka Doncic’s step back.

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