Among NBA fans, Tim Duncan’s last four seasons can be described in these three phases.
Start of regular season: “Duncan is too old to get it done this season.”
Middle of regular season: “Oh look, Duncan is having a good season, wonder if he’ll keep it up.”
End of the season: “Duncan looked good this year, but he’ll be too old next year.”
It’s been the same process for the past four seasons. And yet, once again, we got duped into believing that this is the year that Duncan finally hits the wall.
And once more, it looks like has held off Father Time for another year.
Last night, against the Oklahoma City Thunder, 36-year-old’s game was on full display. He froze Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka with a variety of quick and decisive post moves, scoring 20 points. He showed some mobility showing on Thunder pick and rolls. And he used his smarts and his length to be a last line of defense to the rim, blocking three shots.
But Duncan’s time is running out, he signed on for what will likely be his final contract in the NBA. Age has caught up to the superstar, but he is still one of the better bigmen in the league today.
But very few people notice.
His quiet intensity is often hidden behind his even keel demeanor. No, he doesn’t pound his chest nor does he make scowling faces at his opponents and this has caused many fans to label him “boring” and “uncharismatic”.
It is such a shame that Duncan is one of the most taken-for-granted superstars to ever play in the league. He is the greatest power forward to ever play the game, yet very few people watch him. His team-first approach is what we all desire out of all of our superstars, yet Duncan’s selflessness is often overlooked.
We ask that superstars possess generosity, good character combined with polished skills on the court. But when that package came into the league in the form of Duncan, we pushed him away.
Indeed, it is a vicious cycle that will continue to feast upon the basketball world. We will continue to wonder why there aren’t as many selfless stars while ignoring a player of Duncan’s persona.
At least until he finally succumbs to Father Time.