The Single Craziest Almost-Signed Free Agency Story in the NBA

Tim Duncan almost signed with the Orlando Magic in 2000!

Yup, you heard that right. It sounds unbelievable. Tim Duncan, a member of the San Antonio Spurs for all of his career, a man who won five championships with the Spurs, almost left them for the Orlando Magic. However, one ridiculous thing prevented that from happening. The question is: what?

Well, that’s what we’re talking about today. So let’s brake it down from the beginning. Why did Tim Duncan want to leave the Spurs in the first place?

Tim Duncan was the #1 pick in the 1997 NBA draft, and was chosen by the San Antonio Spurs. Now for those that don’t know who Tim Duncan is, let me give you a quick summary. He spent four years at Wake Forest, and in the NBA was a 5-time NBA champion, 3-time Finals MVP, 2-time NBA MVP, 15-time NBA All-Star, and a 10-time member of the All NBA first team, as well as the greatest power forward to ever play the game.

When Tim Duncan was drafted, Greg Poppivich was the head coach of the Spurs, and they had an aging star in David Robinson. It’s an understatement to say Tim Duncan made an impact the moment he came into the league, winning the Rookie of the Year award, and two years later winning an NBA Championship in 1999.

All seemed well in San Antonio, as Duncan had just won a championship. But unfortunately, the San Antonio Spurs only had one young star at the time, and that was Tim Duncan. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli hadn’t come yet, and the year after winning the championship, the Spurs lost in the first round.

This led to Tim Duncan deciding to explore free agency options after his rookie contract, and he himself said he came really close to leaving. When asked how close, he said, “Real Close.” Tim Duncan would have been making a super team with the Orlando Magic, with Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady.

In fact, Tim Duncan was so close to leaving that Greg Poppovich was mentally preparing himself, and basically just assuming that he was gone so he would be prepared when he did leave. “It was a nerve wracking time,” Poppovich said in an interview. “It was hell. You get so close to a player and you don’t want to see him leave. I never let myself believe he was going to stay. I was just getting myself prepared, for sanity reasons. It was no fun.” And Greg Poppovich was nearly right. Only one mistake by Doc Rivers kept Tim Duncan from signing.

Grant Hill and his wife went to a dinner with Tim Duncan, Tim’s entourage, a couple of other players and his own wife. During that dinner, someone from Tim Duncan’s entourage asked if significant others were allowed to fly on the plane with the players. And Doc Rivers, the head coach of the Orlando Magic in 2000, said no. Apparently, the table then when silent, and Grant Hill’s wife said to him what everyone in the entourage was thinking: he should have lied. Or, Doc Rivers should have changed the rule for him. Heck, if it could land Tim Duncan, they should have given him his own plane! Because significant others were not allowed to fly on the plane, Tim Duncan stayed in San Antonio, and won them four more championships. And Doc Rivers was fired in 2003 when his team got off to a 1-10 start.

Orlando Magic fans, I am so sorry I had to put you through this, but the truth must be told. Let me know in the comments below if you think Doc Rivers’ mistake makes him a worse coach then Jim Boylen, and as always, have an awesome day!


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