“It was probably a lot closer of a decision than people even think or even know,” Said Tim Duncan on the time he almost signed with the Orlando Magic.
Flashback to 2000, when a "BIG 3" near Disney almost happened that would have changed the past decade and half of NBA basketball. Instant 20 & 10 NBA champion Tim Duncan was becoming a free agent after three great seasons in San Antonio and every team but the Lakers & Wolves were salivating and willing to give up their franchise players for him.
The Trailblazers -- overflowing with big men like Rasheed Wallace & Jermaine O'Neal -- was one of the teams rumored to have a shot at landing Duncan in a sign-and-trade if the Spurs absolutely had to make one. But the biggest threat to land Duncan was the Orlando Magic, with $18 million in cap space, the signings of Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill and drafting of future Rookie of the Year Mike Miller. With Tim Duncan in the middle, the Magic probably would have been instant NBA Finals material.
Luckily for San Antonio, Duncan decided not to leave Coach Pop and inked a 4-year, $45.9 million deal to become a Spur for life. So what was the deal breaker for Duncan coming to Orlando? According to Grant Hill, Magic Coach Doc Rivers told Duncan that family members aren't allowed on flights to games.
When asked how many rings a Magic team with Duncan would have won, McGrady in 2010 replied, “Enough to where I would have been satisfied with my career.”
As for the Spurs, bringing back the GOAT power forward was the best decision the franchise ever made outside of tanking the season before drafting Duncan, who actually was considering staying in college longer to get a Masters degree. They ended up winning four more Championships and came very close to one in 2013 with T-Mac on the roster. That season ended in Game 7 of the Finals and McGrady's Hall-of-Fame worthy NBA career ended a month later, when he announced his retirement.
Watch the following video to hear Grant Hill talk about how Doc Rivers screwed up a meeting with Duncan.