Timothy Theodore Duncan was born on April 25,1976, in St. Croix, one of four children of William Duncan, a construction worker, and Iona Duncan, a midwife. His parents instilled in him a love of both sports and education; he excelled in academics at the local school.
When Duncan reached St. Dunstan Episcopal High School in St. Croix, he played under the guidance of coach Cuthbert George and became a formidable player leading the St. Dunstan's team to win the local championship in 1992. The victory was attributed to Duncan single-handedly because in 1991 the team had lost every single game they had played.
Duncan graduated from St. Dunstan High School in 1993 as one of the top five students in ltis class. His skill at basketball had made him an ideal prospect for American college coaches visiting St. Croix in search of new talent and he accepted a sports scholarship at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where he majored in psychology.
At Salem-Winston, Duncan played with the Demon Deacons and became one of the best and most disciplined students both in basketball and in his major. Many sports commentators have said that his study of psychology while at Wake Forest was instrumental in the development of his basketball strategy and technique. By the time Duncan reached the end of his sophomore year, he had become one of the team's star players. During his senior year he was named NCAA Player of the Year.
Despite the constant pressures to accept tempting offers from professional basketball teams, Duncan decided to complete his degree. Before his mother died of breast cancer, he had promised her that he was going to pursue an education. By staying and getting the degree he honored this promise. When he graduated in 1997, he had scored 1,500 baskets (2,117 points), caught 1,000 rebounds, blocked 400 shots, and helped with 200 assists (Kernan 2000). He had also received both the Naismith and Wooden awards. He was seen as a strategic and psychological player who often outsmarted his opponents in the court. With such a record it was no surprise that Demean became the number-one pick for the 1997 NBA's basketball draft. He was selected by the San Antonio Spurs in Texas with a three-year contract worth almost $10 million.
Since his arrival at San Antonio's "Alamodome" in 1997, Duncan has been a major asset to the team. He understood the concept of teamwork and used his skills to complement other members of his team. He was always open to the suggestions of head coach Gregg Popovich and developed a good reputation for observing his teammates and listening to advice. He joined forces with the legendary player David Robinson to integrate their playing strategies and skills. The duo of seven-foot players became known as the "Texas Towers" because of the force and strength they brought to the game. Duncan, playing center, perfected his bank shot and led the Spurs to 56 victories during the first season. He averaged 21.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.51 blocks per game (Kernan 2000). For his performance, he was named the NBA's Rookie of the Year.
The 1998-1999 season provided Duncan with unique opportunities and challenges. Because of a strike in the NBA, the season was shortened and the team had to play 50 games in a period of 91 days. They reached the playoffs with a 31-5 win-lose record and positioned themselves for the finals. Their last five games against the New York Knicks kept basketball fans transfixed while watching some of the best basketball in history. Duncan, by then nicknamed "Slam Duncan," proved that his methodical approach to the game and his successful teaming with Robinson was the key to the team's victory. After winning the first two games at their home stadium, the Spurs moved to the Knicks' playing grounds at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks recognized that if they wanted to win the series, they needed to be able to block Duncan. The strategy to keep Duncan from scoring seemed effective as the Knicks won the third game against the Spurs. Fortunately, the Spurs recognized this strategy and teamed Robinson and Duncan to win the fourth and fifth games, thus winning their team's first NBA championship in 26 years. For his accomplishments during the 1998-1999 series Duncan was named Most Valuable Player of the NBA.
On June 23, 2014, Duncan exercised his $10.3 million player option for the 2014–15 season. On November 14, 2014, Duncan scored his 25,000th point in the first half of the Spurs' 93–80 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, becoming the 19th player in NBA history to reach the milestone. On February 19, 2015, he passed Alex English to move into 16th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list with 30 points against the Los Angeles Clippers. On March 4, he recorded six rebounds against the Sacramento Kings, breaking his tie with Nate Thurmond for ninth in career rebounding. Two days later, he recorded three blocks against the Denver Nuggets to surpass Patrick Ewing for sixth overall in career blocks. On April 12, he played his 1,330th career game against the Phoenix Suns, which passed Moses Malone for 11th all-time. He also scored 22 points and passed Kevin Garnett to move into 14th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. The Spurs finished sixth in the Western Conference after 82 games and faced the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. Their quest for back-to-back championships was ended May 2 as they lost to the Clippers in seven games. Duncan was later named to the All-Defensive second team on May 20 for the seventh time in his career.
As youngsters, the Duncan children were encouraged to compete in swimming. Duncan's youngest sister, Tricia, represented the U.S. Virgin Islands in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. By the time Duncan was an adolescent, he was rated among the top freestyle 400-meter swimmers in the United States. Unfortunately, when hurricane Hugo devastated St. Croix in 1989, it destroyed the only Olympic-size pool available for Duncan's practice. Because his dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer were thwarted, he played football and finally basketball. Duncan had difficulty changing from the solitary sport of swimming to basketball, a sport that necessitated team effort. He didn't play with a team until he reached the ninth grade. He developed an analytic approach that focused on outsmarting and confusing the competition.
Duncan has been seen as an atypical basketball player. He dislikes the media attention and prefers video games to partying. He has not engaged in major media campaigns or sponsorships. His focus is in playing the best game possible.
: During the 1999-2000 season, Duncan suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for most games. Despite receiving substantially larger offers to play with the Orlando Magic, he renewed a three-year contract with the Spurs and will be paid $32.6 million during the length of the contract.