After winning his first NBA championship in his fourth season with the San Antonio Spurs, Tim Duncan entered free agency in 2000. As we can imagine, there was a sweepstake for one of the most promising big men in the league. It’s safe to say a number of teams showed interest in Duncan, but it was the Orlando Magic that came close to sealing the deal.
What the f**k happened?
For sure, some of you may have already heard the story but for those who haven’t, let’s just put it this way. Then Magic head coach Doc Rivers made one of the biggest mistakes of his career.
Rumor had it, through former Spurs bruiser Bruce Bowen, that everything was set, and “The Big Fundamental” was set to become a Magic player. It all fell apart when Rivers refused to let Duncan’s family join the plane trips with him during games. Apparently, that was a deal-breaker for Timmy, and everything fell apart.
Grant Hill was there
While the rumor came from an actual Spur, some were indeed still not convinced. To add further legitimacy to the story, Grant Hill, who was playing for the Magic at the time, followed suit and confirmed Bowen’s statement.
“Not only have I heard that, I was there,” Hill told his ESPN’s “The Jump” co-hosts, including Paul Pierce, in 2018. “I made my visit with Tim Duncan. I was at the dinner when someone in Tim’s entourage, I’ll just leave it that way, asked Doc, can significant others travel on the plane? And Doc said no... And afterward, my wife said, ‘He should have just lied. He should have said yes.’”
Doc learned his lesson
On the other hand, Pierce, who played for Rivers in Boston, lifted the lid on what had been the effect of the Duncan-plane story to his former coach afterward.
“When Doc got to Boston, he allowed family to be on the plane,” Pierce revealed. “He didn’t want to make that mistake again!”
If we are to believe everything we have heard about Duncan’s botched move to the Magic, we can break down our conclusions into two major components.
First, Rivers did not only blow Game 7s in the playoffs, but he also blew what could’ve been the best signing in the history of the Magic franchise.
Second, the past two decades would’ve been entirely different as the Spurs may not have won four more NBA titles, and maybe, just maybe, Hill and Tracy McGrady would’ve won a championship alongside Duncan in Orlando.