For Magic fans, the story of how close Tim Duncan came to signing with Orlando in 2000 is an old and irritating one.
But some new details of his decision to ultimately remain in San Antonio rather than joining Orlando emerged on Thursday courtesy of Duncan's former teammate Bruce Bowen. Bowen, who played for the Spurs from 2001 to 2009 and is now a color analyst for the Los Angeles Clippers, said on Tuesday's broadcast on FOX Sports West that Duncan to Orlando was allegedly a done deal until he was told by Doc Rivers that his family could not fly on the team plane.
When Tim went out to meet with Orlando, he asked this question: Can family come on the flights to some games? And from what I understand, Doc said no, and that’s where he lost Tim Duncan.
Here is the full video of Bowen’s comments....
Bruce Bowen's story about the Magic losing out on Tim Duncan in free agency because Doc would not let family on the team plane (h/t @Wells_P) pic.twitter.com/t66Fj0mbfV— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) December 21, 2017
If that's true, it's disappointing that a seemingly harmless request cost the Magic a potential dynasty. I understand not wanting to give preferential treatment to stars, but for a once-in-a-generation player, the rules can be tweaked to make it work. Hell, if Duncan, a lock for the Hall of Fame and perhaps the greatest power forward of all time, asked for a private jet, the Magic should have asked what make and model he wanted and painted a Tim Duncan logo on the exterior.
Nevertheless, no one truly knows what the butterfly effect would have been had Duncan joined Orlando. At the time, the Magic's top two targets during their off-season spending spree were Duncan and Grant Hill. Had Duncan signed with Orlando as Hill did, who knows if the Magic still end up signing Tracy McGrady, who was essentially a contingency plan if Duncan stayed in San Antonio. Perhaps Orlando, saddled with Hill’s injured ankle and contract, fails to build around Duncan the way they did with McGrady.
Again, no idea if this story is legit. Not sure if a detail of that nature would be a deal-breaker or not. Still, would love to hear Doc's side of the story.