Grant Hill confirms airplane story that potentially hurt Orlando's chance to sign Tim Duncan
Magic made hard push to sign Duncan during summer of 2000
SAN ANTONIO – For years, there have been rumors about why Spurs icon and future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan did not sign with Orlando in free agency during the summer of 2000.
On Thursday, former NBA All-Star Grant Hill confirmed one of the most widely circulated rumors that included spouses not being allowed to travel with Magic players on the team plane.
Hill was a guest on ESPN’s "The Jump" and relived the moment the Magic potentially lost out on signing Duncan.
He was asked by host Rachel Nichols about the infamous dinner that may have played a factor in Duncan re-signing with San Antonio. Duncan was at the dinner with then-Orlando head coach, Doc Rivers.
"I was there. I made my visit with Tim Duncan and I was at the dinner when someone in Tim’s entourage, I’ll leave it that way, asked Doc, ‘Can significant others travel on the plane? And Doc said no,” Hill said.
Hill continued by saying the energy at the dinner table immediately dropped. Hill added, “My wife said, ‘He should have just lied’ and said yes.”
Orlando made a hard push that summer to sign Duncan away from San Antonio and there were real fears in the Alamo City that he would leave.
The Magic had already agreed to deals with Hill and another All-Star, Tracy McGrady.
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With Duncan, Orlando would have been a yearly championship contender, but Tim stuck with the Spurs.
The fateful dinner was most likely not the true reason Duncan did not sign with Orlando, just one of the most shared stories.
Duncan had formed a strong relationship with Gregg Popovich, the staff and a close bond with teammates that included David Robinson.
The Spurs had a plan in place to win more championships with Duncan as the cornerstone of the franchise.
But his decision did change the course of NBA history.
Hill and McGrady never won a championship while Duncan went on to win four more titles in San Antonio.
Duncan remained with the Spurs for the rest of his 19-year career and became one of the most decorated NBA players of all time.
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