One of the greatest all-around basketball players in NBA history announced his retirement on Monday after 19 years. Tim Duncan, was a five-time champion, two-time MVP, three-time Finals MVP and 15-time All-Star. Many took to twitter reacting to his retirement and paying respect to the man they nicknamed “The Big Fundamental”. Calling him “the greatest power forward to ever play the game”. We couldn’t agree more, so we wanted to do the same. To pay homage to the most decorated Caribbean player in the NBA. Here some things you should know about “Timmy D” and his beloved home of St. Croix.
- The St. Croix native didn’t even grow up with a basketball in his hand. Nope, young Timmy actually dreamed of being an Olympic swimmer, and he was pretty darn good. He holds the Virgin Islands record in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle and was a nationally ranked swimmer in the United States in the 400-meter freestyle, all by the age of thirteen.
- Hurricane Hugo kept Tim from pursuing his dream of being an Olympic swimmer. Hurricane Hugo hit St. Croix in 1989, destroying the only Olympic-sized pool on the island. With no place to practice, the team started training in the ocean, but Tim was deathly afraid of sharks that inhabited the waters around St. Croix.
- His parents have always been his biggest supporters. They were at every swim meet cheering him on, encouraging him to push even harder. His mother used to say to him, “Good, better, best. Never let it rest until your good is better, and your better is best”. Unfortunately, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and died one day before Tim turned 14. Now, he no longer had a pool to practice in and suddenly his desire to swim competitively, was gone. That’s when he turned to basketball.
- Tim wore #21 to honor his brother-in-law who taught him the game. After their mother died, his older sister, Cheryl and her husband Ricky, who played basketball in college, moved to the island to help out. Ricky taught Tim the finer points of the perimeter game. He encouraged the 6 foot tall Tim, to join the high school basketball team as a freshman. Over the next 3 years, Tim grew nine inches and became the best player on the island.
- Tim scrimmaged against NBA players and caught the attention of Wake Forest. A group of NBA players visited the island and arranged a pick-up game with the locals. Wake Forest Head Coach, Dave Odom, heard that Tim, at just 16, played Alonzo Mourning to a draw. Mourning had just been selected 2nd in the NBA draft. Coach Odom traveled to St. Croix to check Tim out for himself and ultimately offered him a spot on the Wake Forest team.
- The NBA came calling, but Tim kept his promise to his mother and graduated college. After his sophomore year, averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds, he could have easily gone into the NBA draft and would have been the number 1 overall pick in 1995, but he kept his promise to his mom and graduated with a degree in Psychology in 1997.
- He started the Tim Duncan Foundation in 2001. After being blessed in the NBA with a stellar career, he and former wife Amy, started the Tim Duncan Foundation. The foundation raises money for not-for-profit groups dealing with education, health awareness, cancer research, and youth sports in the Virgin Islands, North Carolina, and Texas. To date, they have raised over $650,000 to help support its mission.
- Duncan’s foundation has helped better children’s lives, especially those in his hometown on St. Croix. The foundation donated $25,000 to rebuild a wooden basketball court for Central High School, the first ever installed on the island. Tim hosts basketball clinics for kids on this very same court and his Caribbean Education Initiative has helped a children’s home in St. Croix, the swimming federation for the Virgin Islands, the boxing federation, as well as the Steel Orchestra at the St. Croix Educational Complex High School.
- If you see Tim Duncan on the island it’s most likely at Harvey’s Restaurant. It’s his favorite place to visit, not just for the island specialties like the stew conch and fish in Creole sauce, but also because it’s like home. The Proprietor and Chef, Sarah Harvey, helped raise Tim after his mother died. He has eaten many a meal in this restaurant and even waited tables for a short period of time. This is HIS place.
- St. Croix not only has native, Tim Duncan, but also some of the best beaches in the world. Beautiful white sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters with lush tropical hills as a backdrop…who wouldn’t want to be here? This is Tim’s home, a place he loves because of its relaxed beach atmosphere. It’s a place that’s personal and intimate to him, he knows everyone and everyone knows him. But he also loves it most of all because well as he’s said before…it’s fun.
What better advocate for this tranquil, tropical destination, rich in cultural diversity and filled with history. Promoting this island is something he takes very seriously. Tim is very proud to be Crucian, a people who work hard, study hard, and believe that education is the key to a successful future. Crucians want to be the best at what they can be and then keep pushing even harder. The very same thing his mother taught him growing up and ultimately the reason he became the most successful and influential NBA player of all time. During an interview in 2004 while visiting the Virgin Islands, he said this. “Every day is a dream for me, it’s a blessing every step of the way and that’s why I enjoy it so much.”