More evidence revealed on Thursday suggests that, had Doc Rivers made room on the Magic team plane for Tim Duncan’s family, the Magic would have had one of the NBA’s first free agency-assembled super teams.
During the Magic’s spending spree in the summer of 2000, Duncan, coming off his first championship and set to enter his fourth season in the league, was reportedly very close to signing with Orlando as a free agent. Looking back, Duncan himself has even admit that he was “real close” to leaving. Had he done so, and everything played out as it did, he would have joined Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady, giving the Magic a true “Big Three.”
In December, Duncan’s former Spurs teammate Bruce Bowen said that Doc Rivers’ refusal to let Duncan’s family ride on the team plane prevented Duncan from signing with the Magic.
Grant Hill all but confirmed the story on Thursday while appearing on ESPN’s “The Jump.”
I was there. I made my visit with Tim Duncan. I was at the dinner when someone in Tim’s entourage, I’ll just leave it that way, asked Doc, can significant others travel on the plane? And Doc said no...And afterward, my wife said, he should have just lied, he should have said yes.”
From #TheJump: @RealGrantHill33 & Tracy McGrady talk Orlando, and if you want to see T-Mac nearly cry, skip to the 1:55 mark when Grant said he was at the dinner where Doc Rivers diverted Tim Duncan from signing with the Magic as a free agent. https://t.co/J8ooeIcHp6— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) February 15, 2018
Also on the show with Hill was Tracy McGrady, who, jokingly or not, seemed nearly brought to tears after Hill told the story. Can’t blame the guy. Duncan went on to win four more titles with the Spurs, Hill played in only 200 games over seven seasons with Orlando due to injury, and McGrady never made it out of the first round of the playoffs.
“In this league you have that window of winning. And that was my window, our window of winning,” McGrady said on the show.
We’ll never know for sure if this was the true reason Duncan opted to stay in San Antonio. But this story likely won’t die anytime soon. Only a matter of time before someone asks Doc or the Magic’s team pilot about it.