Spurs retire Tim Duncan's No. 21 jersey in emotional ceremony (w/video)

Duncan becomes 8th Spurs player to have number retired

(AP Photo/Darren Abate)

SAN ANTONIO – It was exciting, emotional and retrospective. It was fundamentally put, an incredible evening for the jersey retirement ceremony of the greatest Spurs player of all time, Tim Duncan.

Duncan was honored by former teammates and coaches on the AT&T Center court. He was there with his children, girlfriend and nieces.

Tony Parker was the first teammate to speak. He told several stories about why Tim was so special. Emphasizing what a great teammate Duncan was and how humble he was.

Parker let the capacity crowd in on one particular story about Tim's communication skills. Parker talked about when Tim wanted to the ball.

"He's only teammate that never asked me or talked to me to get the ball, he just looks at me," Parker said.  

Manu Ginobili also had a chance to speak, agreeing with Tony on what a great teammate Duncan was and how he was also there with a hug or a pat on the head.

Manu pointed to his bald head when he mentioned, "so many pats on the head, you know what happened up there," Ginobili said.

He also told a moving story about how Duncan was there to lift him up after he had a rough playoff game on the road.

Ginobili didn't want to talk to anybody, but Tim kept calling his room and finally Manu answered. The two ended up going to dinner and Manu has able to bounce back the next game.

Ginobili also took the time to just say "thank you" to Tim.

Duncan's college head coach at Wake Forest, Dave Odom, was also in attendance and spoke a few words.

Odom discussed Duncan's first game at Wake Forest and his development as a player and person. Odom was introduced by Gregg Popovich, who credited Odom for bringing Duncan to the states.

Then it was time for Popovich, who had more stories, but left the crowd with a final thought about Duncan.

"I can honestly say to Mr. and Mrs. Duncan, who have passed, that man right there (looking at Tim) is exactly the same person now as he was when he walked through the door," Popovich said.

After Popovich spoke, there was a moving video tribute narrated by Duncan on his journey, talking about the opportunity to play the game he loves and to experience the biggest joy of all in his life, his kids

Duncan then took the microphone, thanking the fans, the coaches and his teammates.

He had to pause several times to gather his thoughts and his emotions especially when he talked about his two children.

For those who have been around Tim, it was no surprise how he ended the speech.

"I won a lot of bets tonight. I didn't  wear jeans. I wore a sports coat. I didn't wear a tie and a spoke for more than thirty seconds," Duncan said. He ended with a, "thank you" to the fans.

The climatic portion of the night was the unveiling of Duncan's No. 21 Spurs jersey.

The unveiling of the jersey from the rafters brought about thunderous applause from the crowd and a huge smile from Duncan.

About the Authors:

David Sears, a native San Antonian, has been at KSAT for more than 20 years.

RJ Marquez has been at KSAT since 2010. He's covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area, and is the lead reporter for KSAT Explains. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms. You can see RJ regularly on KSAT Explains and Good Morning San Antonio. He also writes a weekly Spurs newsletter.