Slimmer Duncan Still Pulls The Weight

 

SAN ANTONIO — Of course, Tim Duncan has changed since he entered the NBA 16 years ago.

Older and wiser.

Lighter and faster.

Let’s not say better for a 14-time All-Star with two MVP awards and four championships on his resume, but certainly very effective as he leads the Spurs into The Finals and a quest for a fifth title.

Yes, leads. For while this spring has been a long overdue coming-out party for point guard Tony Parker as perhaps the game’s best point guard, what the Spurs have achieved and how far they’ve climbed wouldn’t have been possible without the transformation of Duncan’s body and his game.

Coach Gregg Popovich calls him the Spurs “psychological foundation,” the one who makes everything possible.

But the fact Duncan can continue doing that at the advanced basketball age of 37 is what has raised eyebrows and dropped jaws. It is not like Duncan simply showed up in the fourth quarter of the clinching Game 6 in the conference semifinals against Golden State and made the plays that made the difference or he came out of nowhere to pull the Spurs’ wagon in overtime of the critical Game 2 win over Memphis in the Western Conference finals.

Playing 30.1 minutes per game in the regular season, most in three years, Duncan averaged 17.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots per game, numbers that were good enough to get him voted onto the All-NBA first team. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 39 in 1986 has been an older selection to the first team and the gap from 1998 to 2013 matches the 15-year span of excellence.

Through the first three rounds of the playoffs, Duncan has averaged 17.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks while playing 34.4 minutes.

If the Spurs go on to defeat the Heat in The Finals, Duncan will have won championships in three different decades, an unprecedented feat.

“Timmy amazes me with his discipline on and off the court,” Popovich said. “A lot of people would like to be able to play a sport at that elite level for so many years, but what they don’t realize is the full commitment that it takes. It’s not about just playing games and working in every practice. It’s being mindful of everything that you put into your body. It’s being dedicated to doing all of the necessary things in the offseason so that you can show up perform during the season.”

As the years seemed to take a toll on the Spurs, there were changes that needed to be made. The team had been swept out of the playoffs by Phoenix in 2010, upset as the No. 1 seed by Memphis in the first round of 2011 and then built a 2-0 lead on Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals in 2012 and then was steamrolled by four straight losses.

While the team was making a strategic and stylistic change from a pound-it-inside, low-post offense of his early career to a step-on-the-gas transition attack fueled by Parker, Duncan knew that one of the biggest changes would have to come to himself.

Contrary to an image that has been wrongheadedly perpetuated by those who can’t look deeper than his emotionless expressions on the court, it was his passion for the game, his fiery, intense competitive nature that drove Duncan to remake his body.

“Anybody who doesn’t credit him that way is probably an idiot,” Popovich said.

Duncan spent the past two off-seasons dropping 25 pounds from his previous playing weight of 255 to 260 pounds and now looks positively lean, a loose collection of muscles and tendons.

“The last couple of years, my game has declined and changed,” he said. “I wasn’t ready to let it go. I wanted to play as well as I can, as long as I can.”

While the Spurs have steadily made their offensive shift toward Parker as centerpiece, they have always had Duncan as the main mast of their ship that keeps them sailing forward even while he did an extreme makeover of his body.

“That’s his passion for the game and that passion is part of what makes him such a great leader,” said forward Matt Bonner, who has been Duncan’s teammates since the 2006-07 season. “He sets a great example for everybody. He’s always putting in the work before practice, after practice, in the training room.

“He’s the utmost professional, has that drive, that passion. Considering everything he’s accomplished and considering the credibility he has in everyone else’s eyes in the game, you see that in him and it only makes you want to emulate it.”

On top of all the other challenges that come from aging, Duncan has performed at a steady, elite level all through a season when he knew his marriage was coming apart. It was revealed 10 days ago that his wife Amy has filed for divorce. Yet through it all, the intensely private man never gave even an inclination in public of his pain or his problems. Duncan merely went about delivering the kind of steady, solid performance that the Spurs have perennially expected, always needed to chase those championships and now he’s got them back on the doorstep for the first time since 2007.

“It’s been a long time, and I know what the struggle is,” Duncan said. “I know the luck you have to have, the health you have to have, the team you have to have, all that stuff that has to go into it to make it back here.

“I honestly didn’t know what to expect about these years. My game has changed, and my role is different on this team. It’s kind of reverted a little bit over the last however many games, and I’m being called on a little more.

“I love playing and I’m going to miss it when I’m gone. So I’m enjoying every minute. I know my time is running short here. Every minute I’m on the court — practice, whatever it might be — I’m enjoying being here.”

88 Comments

  1. Joel says:

    So, some think that the Spurs are the best team in the West? Does anyone honestly believe they would be in the finals if Westbrook had not gone down? Heat in 6 and I am being kind to an old man that is still called by a child’s name – “Timmy”. GO HEAT!

    • dias33 says:

      @ joel.
      the fact that you judge people by their name really shows your lack of maturity or brains.
      i guess all the greats with “kids” name like MJ or “MAGIC” johnson are lousy too right?

    • 34yr fan says:

      Yes………….. because the okies got lucky to beat the Spurs just to be fodder to Another jump shootin’ team…..

  2. Miami Heat Fan says:

    so many bandwagon fans here, and they’re running out of team to jump with. poor Spurs Team, they will carry all the bad lucks of bandwagons/heat haters fan.

    • 34yr fan says:

      they are disliked for a reason….”the decision”…..remember that farce….don’t you miamiheatfan ??

  3. tim duncan says:

    don’t worry, we got this

  4. Explorer says:

    Let us just wait , watch and see the result. Play hard ball.

  5. Aussie Spurs says:

    Dont know why everyone says Spurs are old, average age of the Spurs is 28… average age of the Heat is 32… where are people getting there info?

  6. J says:

    great article
    play till he is 49 ha ha ha ha lol :-D
    a true legend
    heat in 7!!!!!

  7. Mike says:

    Tim Duncan is slow, and he is old. But so is an Oil Tanker… try stopping it.

  8. FeeLaZone says:

    HEAT have less danger in parker than Duncan. Duncan is the only factor to match HEAT since the PF of HEAT is shorter than Duncan. On the other area, SPURS no way to defeat HEAT. HEAT have also lot of shooters like spurs, and there’s no way leonard can hold LBJ. I know u witness what happen in game & of MIA vs INDIANA. LBJ lead HEAT to defeat the INDIANA through there weakness.

    Go Heat, Go Spo. Sweep the Spurs! LBJ, time to revenge what happen in 2007.

    • 34yr fan says:

      That’s right, Miami beat the Indiana Pacers just like they did last year(in 6 games) ….and Miami was sooooo good in doing it that it took all 7 games to beat the Eastern Conferences’ 3rd best team by record. This matchup is NOT against some ‘other’ team……It is the Western Conference champs with a 12-2 playoff record with TWO sweeps against elevated competition ….. facing a team that has struggled against good defensive teams has a 12-4 record (playoff) and the only sweep was against an 8th seeded team with a losing reg season record ! No matter what…….it should be fun to watch !! Good Luck to both teams and may the best team win without ANY excuses………Only 2 things can make this series anything but Great…..bad injuries and bad officiating…..and I am really hoping that neither will happen to either team !!

  9. lol says:

    come on give Indy a credit.

  10. Rhedz says:

    Heat will win the finals….no doubt….key players?

    * birdman, haslem must put a good defense on duncan, splitter and a slashing parker and at the same time staying out of foul trouble. Offensive rebounds is their second task in hand.

    * battier, allen and miller needs to connect on their 3s, and also.
    * battier needs to bring out his good defensive skill
    * wade needs to get his game together.
    * chalmers and cole facilitating and rotating the ball.
    * lewis must step up on 3s and rebounding aswell
    * joel anthony needs some bench production and good rebounding.
    * lebronq steping up his game two more knoth on both ends of the floor and at the same time staying out of foul trouble.

    Good ball movement, good and balance rotation from the starting line up and bench is a must, good defense and rebounding is the main key. No forced shots…avoding technical fouls would really help this team.

    Heat on 6 …

    • 34yr fan says:

      they can’t/won’t even do the first point on your list let alone ALL of them ….are you dreaming or just hoping??

    • 34yr fan says:

      …..Lewis ?? Anthony?? they’re not even on the court much!!

  11. 3ptdagger says:

    There are just too many X factors to be able to call this series. I do expect it to go at least 6, if not 7 games. The biggest X factor will be how hard Lebron plays not to fall to the Spurs in the Finals again, but the Spurs have a better overall team. Of course, how well Wade and Ginobli play through injuries will be critical to both teams. The long layoff may have hurt the younger Spurs some while being able to stay in Miami helps the Heat. With the 2-3-2 format, we could see the Spurs steal one in Miami (very likely) and then have a chance to end it at home, like Miami did last year and Detroit did in 2004. I can’t really see that happening, San Antonio may have the advantage in overtime games. Miami will be more prepared being here for the 3rd year in a row, while San An hasn’t been here since ’07, although this is their fifth time since ’99. Plus, it’s another odd numbered year, which favors them through unexplainable odd numbered years forces. I think I need to go to bed now. It should be a great series.

  12. Jochen-Celt says:

    That will be the true competition…. i love series MIA-BOS, LAL-BOS, NYK-BOS, and now MIA-SAS… I bet for SAS will win in 6 games… it`s because we all the Celtics fans hates LeBron the flopper and his comrades…. The enemy of my enemy is my friend…. Go Spurs

  13. Duke says:

    Win or lose… the Spurs have been the best team for the last 15 years. Their numbers prove it.

    • SpursVsHEAT says:

      People forget the HEAT beat them twice this year AND one time without Lebron or Wade.

      Also, spurs are champions…REGULAR season champions for the last 15 years. None of those “Numbers” mean anything if you dont get the ring.

      • Loki says:

        You just contradicted yourself. You went on to mention two games that were extremely watered down on both team’s parts. These being regular season you used them to make a point against the spurs chances against the Heat.

        Then you went on to call Spurs regular season champions but than want to say that doesn’t count.

        So regular season only makes a case for a teams success if it’s the team you want to win yes?

        Ps – only regular season champions for the last 15 years? Someone clearly forgets there were 4 NBA FINALS championships within that time period.

      • 34yr fan says:

        how many Finals sweeps can you recall????

  14. spguide says:

    In my point of view , it will be an amazing series. The biggest advantage of the Spurs is Popovich.
    Spoelstra is lucky to have Lebron in his team , otherwise he is an average coach , while Pop is one of the best coaches of all time .
    Lebron should have a serious help from Wade , Bosh and every one else ,otherwise they are done.
    At the power forward and point guard positions the Spurs are wayyyyyy better , which is a nice match , and by the Heat side , they have the best player of the game nowadays.
    Really hope the Spurs get this ring , for i dont like neither Lebron , and Miami , and much more the Miami bandwagon fans

  15. NBAfan says:

    As much as Duncan is a great player, at 37 years he’s way too old to last even 6 games, forget about 7.
    Besides Parker, the other boys are inexperienced, raw and immature — they will succumb to the crippling pressures of this NBA Finals Series, especially with King James and da HEAT firing aggressively on all cylinders.
    It’s not surprising that Miami are the favorite to win this in 6. They could even win this in 5, but then they want to be with the home crowd for the ultimate South Beach party, for isn’t that why LBJ left Cleveland !!!!

    • Mike says:

      I don’t respect the opinion of anyone who uses “da” instead of “the”

    • reality check says:

      very naive… pop will manage duncans minutes like he has all season and get the most out of him. This is Duncans last chance to be a winner, and you think he’s just going to stand by and let james & co dominate? spurs will double lebron like they did in 2007 so wade and bosh will have to step up. i dont know how you can be so confident they way those guys have been playing. i’m not saying spurs have this in the bag, if anything they ARE the underdogs – but thats just how they like it ;)

    • 34yr fan says:

      you don’t know squat

  16. rcandcess says:

    I think this game will be more of a battle of the coaches. Pop and Spo are right now the best tacticians as far as adjustments are concerned. When the game goes the distance, it will ultimately be decided on the court on the drawing board. And if that’s the case, Pop’s experience has an edge over Spo. But I really believe this is a toss-up between the two teams (unless otherwise the Spurs have eventually ran out of steam). I think this series will go 7 for the Spurs

  17. Patty says:

    TIM DUNCAN WILL SHOW THE MIAMI HEAT WHO IS A CHAMPION.

  18. salman says:

    go spurs go

  19. salman says:

    every heat fan is a bandwagon

  20. Nash fan says:

    will the SPURS repeat the sweep of LeBron?

  21. djles73 says:

    everybody is right and wrong at the same time.we will be wiser after the finals.
    If this and if that blah blah blah….One thing about the Bucks though.Their record was poor coz like 10 games b4 season ended they were locked to 8th pos,on the other hand LAL,Mavs,Rockets even GSW had to push for either simply PO or positions.Check out their regular season games against OKC,GSW,HOU,LAL,DAL,LAC all split.only lost 2-0 to SAS,DEN and 2 very close games to MEM…
    By the way,anyone noticed that Manu is not the same player he used to be?He averages what?like 10ppg.He won’t be a factor Timmy is a better match-up for CB and Parker will be worn down by Super mario ,Cole and of course the King.
    Anyone remembers this same SAS going down to OKC that was beaten 4-1 by the Heat in the finals.and this team only got better w additon of Allen and the Birdman.How do u Spurs fans actually see your team winning 4 games???

    • realist2013 says:

      Hopefully Miami approaches the Spurs wulith your same blind devotion.

      • Mike says:

        Tony Parker is in a completely different sphere of existence than Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers. Tony Parker would win a 2 on 1 game against Chalmers and Cole.

    • Loki says:

      The fact that you just referred to Chalmers as a guy stupid enough to save the same stupid princess who’s been getting kidnapped for the last 25+ years by the same guy (she clearly likes it) makes it hard to take anything else you just said seriously. Really, Chalmers wear Parker down? Tiago splitter has a better chance of shutting down Lebron

    • 34yr fan says:

      super mario…..lol…..lol game boy speaks!!

  22. Renay says:

    That everyone is calling the Spurs old is fine with me. But the avarage age for the starting line-ups: Heat 30.2, Spurs 27.8. Just sayin’. I couldn’t be bothered to look at the benches, I guess the addition of T-Mac put it up a bit. But it might be close.

    • Damian says:

      Isn’t it more like 29.4 for Heat, and 28.4 for Spurs? But agreed, they aren’t really that old at all, except for Duncan who doesn’t show it. But again to be fair, the fact that Leonard is 21 brings it down a fair bit for the Spurs.

      • Aram says:

        hahaha.. you don’t look at that way! if Duncan is 37 and he plays with an 18 yr old then thats 24 yr old average. You’re just looking at the wrong side of the road man!

      • 34yr fan says:

        for the starters

  23. realist2013 says:

    The spurs are Beasts and have been forever. Theyve not had a bad season in memory nor have they lost a finals. They wont be intimidated and all these die hard fans need to be real. The heat arent going to just dog out the spurs like most of the eastern conference. Lebron and Co’s true test vs arguably one of the best consistant teams in the history of the game that has little to no weaknesses. I’ll enjoy this series. Spurs all the way over sportscenter seekers

  24. dean says:

    San Antonio is taking this series in 6 games.

    Spurs fan before Duncan was even drafted.

  25. dean says:

    @Sanjay Memphis would utterly destroy Miami with Randolph and Marc Gasol. Not to mention, Prince and Allen would plague the **** out of LeBron or Wade. Bosh would be nonexistent with Gasol/Z-Bo. Memphis is a very good perimeter defending team. Miami’s 3-pointers would be shut down. Don’t ever say SAS had the easier way through the Finals. Miami is in the easier conference going past the Bucks(lol) 11th if they were in the West, injury-plagued Chicago without Rose, Hinrich, Deng, and an injured Noah, and Indiana which is a turnover machine. Miami would have much more troubles with GSW and MEM if they played them.

  26. Javier says:

    Tim Duncan know what to do, Parker no body can stop his game, and the best player in basketball fundamental, Manu. Pop know the rest. Spur Go ahead and deliver the game that only you can do.

  27. Ben Makowski says:

    Duncan’s not showing his age because he’s had old man game ever since he entered the league.

    • paks says:

      nice! best one so far Ben!

    • Loki says:

      Yes because putting up numbers modern day PFs dream of at the start of his career And taking over for an aging David Robinson and still managing to keep his team relevant post-Robinson is an old man’s game. If you mean old as in wise yeah you’re right, but if you mean old as in useless 37 year old playing 5mins off the bench you clearly know nothing about basketball.

    • 34yr fan says:

      hey benpacs…..childish !!

  28. theholyspectator says:

    lets see if these old geizers can upset the world and win one last title together, this is it for em…but just like everyone is sayin ..miami in 6 or 7.

    • Michael says:

      Miami has some old fellas, too. Ray Allen is 37 and is playing significant minutes. And for most of the playoffs Wade has played like he’s 47. Leonard, Green, and Splitter are starters for the Spurs and they all have young legs. And Parker at 31 is still one of the quickest cats in the league, so who cares how old he is?

    • 34yr fan says:

      You mean Miami….with an average age of 31.1yrs???

  29. Murica says:

    Tim Duncan is one of the greatest PF/C of alltime. He has been to Finals in three consecutive decades (only person ever) and is a consistent allstar. GO DUNCAN, GO SPURS!!!!!

  30. A.J. says:

    Odd that nobody mentions the elephant in the room. As in the possibility of HGH. Or does the media that follows the NBA live in their own little fantasy lands.

  31. Chase says:

    @ sanjay. So you think the Bucks, a Rose-less Bull’s decimated by injuries and the Pacers is a harder route to the finals? I hope you’re the only one. The Western Conf. teams have better overall records for a reason. You Miami bandwagon-ers seem to be utterly unaware.

    • blegkebojigonokif says:

      Miami heat bandwagon-ers are different species, they don’t understand basic concepts in life and are confused about everything that doesn’t concern LeBron James post Big Three formation.

      • FettaFetta says:

        @blegkebojigonokif Thats probably the truest thing I’ve ever heard! My day has been made.

  32. Louie says:

    My cousin asked me earlier these playoffs why I like the spurs so much. I don’t live in their market area but do travel to SA 2 or 3 times a year and try to catch a game as much as possible.
    It is their style and way of doing things. Even before Timmy when they had David Robinson. they have always been and this is the best way I can describe the SPURS

    “Consistently Great at what they do…”

    Win these Finals or not (they certainly have a great shot!) they would have proven to be a great dynasty.

    PS- Timmy Duncan is the only player in NBA history to appear in the Finals 3 consecutive decades…

    Greatest PF of all time??? if you have to ask that question you are clueless…..

    Go SPURS Go!!!!

  33. sanjay says:

    lebron has to! we have not seen best of heat yet. On the contrary spurs had way too easy route to finals. They face washed up lakers, inexperienced jump shooting warriors, and flat footed, just paint game grizzlies!
    Miami must come to impose their will here!

    • Al says:

      That staement is somewhat true, but look at what miami faced. The 8th seeded bucks, which is the equivalent of comeing last in the west, The Bulls, with no Rose, Sick Deng, and injured Kirk. The only competion they faced was the Pacers who where awesome defensively, but turn over prone and offensively impotent. Maybye you should just stick to jerking off over those sweet Dwade and LBJ alleyoops….

    • Anthony says:

      Oh and Miami faced elite competition in their journey to the Finals? Let’s see, an extremely easy team in the Bucks, who anyone in the playoffs would dismantle, a SEVERELY injury plagued team in Chicago (who had only like 6 players who were healthy enough to play) and an Indiana pacers team that was just a turnover machine and no efficient offense whatsoever.

      Yeah ok, Miami totally had elite competition every round.

  34. Ren says:

    Heat can only win if there’s going to be a game 7. Anything less than a game 7, I think the Spurs will be holding the trophy. I hope and I believe the team who plays the best team basketball will win, and that will be the Spurs.

    I just hope that there will be no injuries to both sides during the finals, and no dumb suspensions by the league.

  35. Hunter says:

    Does anybody remember the numbers Garnett, Notwitski, Malone, and Duncan put up ten years ago and how nobody at the PF position put up those numbers anymore.

  36. Hunter says:

    Who is the center on the Spurs most of the game? Duncan being the best PF in the league is just a testimony in how basketball is played these days. I believe that David Lee has better numbers .Durant, James. and Anthony all play half of their time as PF. Bosh and Garnett who had been PF all their careers play center now.

  37. ,vnmh says:

    LETS ALL JOIN THE SPURS BANDWAGON NOW THAT indy lost to MIAmi……

  38. Antonio says:

    Your my idol timmy.. go for the 5th ring

  39. GERARD says:

    Being Healthy is also the part of the game and will to win. So PARKER did it all he is the BEST POINT GUARD right now, other players like you have mentioned are too FLASHY and SHOW-OFF on and off the court. But PARKER is DISCIPLINED. Just ask the COACHES what they expect from a PLAYER,

  40. Whacker says:

    Let’s Do it!! SPURS!!

  41. Hall of Fame says:

    Lebron will dominate the Spurs. Heat in 5!

  42. tool says:

    Respect! drive for 5 TD!

  43. Nick_E23 says:

    Parker is not the league’s best point guard… He’s pretty damn good it’s just that is a very competitive position. If every star point guard had been healthy this playoff, I think the match-ups would have been much different. A healthy Rondo, Rose and Westbrook change their teams significantly. Parker is just the best point guard who stayed healthy. Speaking of point guards, I can’t wait for Kyrie and Damian to make the playoffs; that should be fun to watch!

    • Michael says:

      Let’s agree that this season, Parker was the most impressive point guard. I think he deserved a First Team selection. He got it done on both ends of the floor and has led his team back to the Finals.

      Parker already has three rings, and one Finals MVP–against LeBron’s Cavs, let’s not forget. Rondo is the only other elite point guard with even one ring.

  44. desi fan says:

    A true legend.

    You can hate the way he plays, but even the haters gotta respect this guy…

    • biik says:

      Everyone respects him. Someday, haters will respect lbj too

      • Lakers' fanboy says:

        LOL no way.

      • DEAL WITH YOURSELF says:

        Respect is earned. And earned in a hard fought way, no short cuts.

      • Don't ever CLICK MY NAME!!!! You Have been warned says:

        I know what it is to be the object of people’s hate. When I came out the only people that stood beside me was my mom and boyfriend. Now I ca say that you can live your life not paying attention to the “hate” of the ignorant. LeBron has done nothing but good things for his team mates and his hometown. If Cleveland really wanted him, they would have fought for him, not throw a bunch of scrubs to give the impression of building a team around him. Miami will win this, just because they can click that button and play at a level that no other team can, including San Antonio.

  45. adrixe says:

    Arguably the best PF of all time!! Lets go SPURS! Maybe sweep the heat like you did with lebron’s cavs!

  46. Loki says:

    Play hard Duncan, lead your team and bring home that Fifth ring! It won’t be a cake walk but I have faith in the San Antonio Spurs organization and have for years. Give em hell boys!