Skip to main content

“Tim dominated David, who I thought was a pretty good defender" — rookie Tim Duncan schooled David Robinson in San Antonio Spurs practice

Pop had to change his training camp lineups to protect David Robinson.
San Antonio Spurs icons Tim Duncan and David Robinson

Tim Duncan and David Robinson

As we all know, when entering the Association Tim Duncan was as NBA-ready as a player can be. In his rookie season with the San Antonio Spurs, a 21-year-old Timmy logged MVP-like numbers, averaging 21.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game. Duncan won the well-deserved Rookie of the Year award, and what’s even worth noting, he did in an era when versatile stretch fours and dominant centers dominated the league.

Despite the tough match-ups, Duncan made his duels with guys like Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett, Patrick Ewing, and Shaquille O’Neal look easy. Many believed it was because of Timmy’s sheer talent, but apparently, practice also played a huge role in it.

Duncan used to school David Robinson

According to former Spurs point guard Avery Johnson, Duncan was a freak of nature, to say the least. Johnson said in Duncan’s first matchup against David Robinson during a team practice in the team’s training camp in 1997, the young Timmy schooled the Admiral, leaving everybody in awe of what they were witnessing.

The matches were so one-sided that Johnson said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich ended up putting Duncan and Robinson on the same team during five-on-five scrimmages. And that became a staple in that particular training camp.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

We really couldn’t believe what we were seeing,” Avery Johnson said via The Ringer. “Tim dominated David, who I thought was a pretty good defender [he chuckled]. It got to the point where Pop [Popovich] had David spend the rest of training camp on Tim’s team.

Duncan had been known for his remarkable bank shot his entire career. While some thought Timmy honed his bank game as he progressed in the league, Johnson said the truth is Duncan already had that shot in his bag when he arrived in San Antonio.

He was doing so [dominating Robinson] with bank shots,” Johnson revealed. “It takes an enormous amount of skills and touch and confidence to consistently take and make that shot…He was such a quiet assassin, but that shot was such an arrogant in-your-face statement. And he banked it on everybody. No one was exempt.

Duncan and Robinson clashed again in post-retirement

Duncan and Robinson’s head-to-head matches did not end in the Spurs practice sessions. Some may not know, but the pair also took on each other again after retiring. However, it was no longer playing hoops. Instead, it was in kickboxing, the sport “The Twin Towers” fell in love with in post-NBA retirement.

[Duncan] would be a legit competitor. For sure,” Duncan and Robinson’s kickboxing coach Jason Echols said. “He has a desire to learn and compete. He has the heart for it. He most definitely would be a competitor…Tim would be a competitor. David would learn to become one. They are both competitive guys and not used to losing.

Regardless of how many times Duncan and Robinson clash in any sport, their competitive juices don’t let them take things too personally. If anything, they strengthen their bond and relationship as former teammates and Spurs legends. 

Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd explains why he isn’t too concerned with the Dallas Mavericks' slow start to the season

Kidd believes that the Mavs are figuring things out slowly but surely, and ensured fans that they won't be winning any awards for the first 20 games of the season

Charles Barkley & Erik Spoelstra

Charles Barkley believes it's time for the Miami Heat to break the team up and start over

Barkley pondered whether or not it was time for the Heat to start from scratch amid their 11-14 run in the first 25 games of the season

Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley and New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson

“It looked like me and Shaq had a baby” — when Chuck had Shaq dying laughing with his Zion comment

One year later, Zion proved he's put in the work and is leading the New Orleans Pelicans to the playoffs.

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant and Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas

"It was intelligent trash talking, when you played him you’re playing a mental war" — Gilbert Arenas shares his experience trash-talking Kobe Bryant

Former Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas outlines what it was like to receive trash-talking from Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

Former NBA player Stephen Jackson

"They gave me a check for $25,000 cash, I blew it all in one day" — Stephen Jackson reveals he blew his first NBA paycheck

Former three-point specialist Stephen Jackson reveals how he and Mike Bibby spent his first NBA pay check in a few hours.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and New Orleans Hornets guard Devin Brown

“I think we can pay you a little bit more than that” — When Gregg Popovich saved Devin Brown from an overnight stocker job

Thanks to Gregg Popovich's training camp invite, Devin Brown was able to live his NBA dream.

Dennis Rodman

"How was the nightlife with Dennis Rodman?" — questions that Chicago Bulls big man Luc Longley absolutely hated

Even those outside Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman were annoyed with repetitive questions.