If they ever revise the list of the wonders of the ancient world, Tim Duncan should be there next to the Pyramids, the Statue of Zeus, the Hanging Gardens, the Colossus, the Alexandria Lighthouse, Temple of Artemis and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
Well, maybe he’s not that ancient. There’s a slightly more modern list which includes spots like Stonehenge, the Colosseum, the Great Wall of China and others. You get the point. Duncan stands out, big time.
A player who is 39 years old (celebrated on April 25) shouldn’t be dominating playoff games like this. He shouldn’t be playing 39 minutes, and averaging 36.4 in this series. He shouldn’t be scoring 43 points in two games with just one day of rest between them. But it turns out Duncan isn’t about should or shouldn’t.
He’s after 17 years of playing NBA basketball, plus four years in college, something that doesn’t happen anymore to guys who get picked number one overall. He’s from a different age and era, surviving through maybe two or three different generational changes in the NBA. Duncan is still here, and not just playing a few minutes off the bench to pick up a ring. He’s not just here to provide leadership and experience in the locker room while wearing a suit during the actual game.
Duncan is out there battling guys like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. This is someone with 1331 regular season games behind him. With 239 more appearances in the postseason. And he still has that hunger, that drive, that some players don’t have it in them to begin with. Obviously, it comes in package that includes talent, intelligence and the outside help of an excellent supporting system with a legendary head coach.
But Duncan keeps on pushing for another championship ring. He was always great and special, but the decline, a natural, obvious, expected one, stopped at some point. Since then he’s been the epitome of the ‘aging like fine wine’ cliché, playing against guys that didn’t even know what basketball is while he was the number one college player in the country. He’s not just playing with them. He’s kicking their a$$es.