Duncan wins MVP award again

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 5, 2003

SAN ANTONIO - Tim Duncan edged Kevin Garnett to win the NBA MVP award for the second straight season Sunday.

The 7-foot San Antonio Spurs forward claimed 60 of the 119 first-place votes for 962 points. Garnett, who plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, got 43 first-place votes and 871 points.

''I think I was pretty solid, as I was last year,'' said Duncan, a sixth-year pro. ''I think our team did a lot better.''

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He averaged 23.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.92 blocked shots, leading the Spurs to a 60-22 record, tied with the Dallas Mavericks for the best in the league.

Duncan is the eighth player to win the MVP award in consecutive seasons, the last being Michael Jordan in 1991-92. The record is three straight, accomplished by Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell.

''I never would have imagined to be anywhere close to that list,'' Duncan said. ''It's definitely an honor.''

Last season, he averaged a career-high 25.5 points and 12.7 rebounds and edged New Jersey Nets point guard Jason Kidd for the MVP award by 57 votes.

Garnett, the MVP of this season's All-Star game, averaged 23 points, 13.4 rebounds and six assists. His Timberwolves finished third in the Midwest Division - behind San Antonio and Dallas - and lost to the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.

Kobe Bryant of the Lakers finished third in the MVP voting with eight first-place votes and 496 points, followed by league-leading scorer Tracy McGrady, Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, Dirk Nowitzki and Ben Wallace.

During the regular season, Duncan ranked seventh in the league in both scoring and field-goal percentage, and third in both rebounding and blocked shots.

Despite a less-than-stellar supporting cast, he has the Spurs in position to challenge for another NBA championship. He helped San Antonio win the 1999 title in just his second season.

''He's not one of the flashier guys, he's not one of the guys everybody talks about all the time,'' teammate David Robinson said Sunday. ''But when you watch his game, you just can't deny that he's the most effective player on the court.''