- Heat vs. Spurs: Finals Hub
MIAMI – His hair is more closely shorn now and, if he did let it grow, probably would show some gray. He’s actually leaner than he was way back when, thanks to an offseason diet-and-workout tweak to benefit his knees and his general odometer.
So yeah, Tim Duncan is older now even if his game, so grounded in fundamentals, seems relatively unchanged. Duncan’s perspective has grown up with him – the first time he participated in The Finals, in 1999, he was a 23-year-old kid, two years removed from college, and for all he knew, the San Antonio Spurs would keep showing up and winning titles through his career.
Actually, they kind of did for a while – Duncan got back in 2003, 2005 and 2007, by which time his status as a future Hall of Famer was secure. But it’s been six years since he and his team last stepped onto this stage. And the fellow who routinely brushes off talk of his legacy admitted that, y’know, it does feel good to be back.
“It’s felt like a long time,” Duncan told reporters after the Spurs’ practice Friday morning at AmericanAirlines Arena. “Yeah, I definitely appreciate being back out here, to see The Finals banners all around and to see the patch on the jersey and all those little things. The last couple of days it’s really been sinking in.
“I really do appreciate it more now, having been gone so long.”
How long? If San Antonio manages to wrest the 2013 championship away from Miami – it got started with its Game 1 victory Thursday – Duncan would become only the second player in NBA history to win rings in three different decades (John Salley is the other).
And as Fox Sports Florida’s Chris Tomasson also noted, Duncan would wind up with 14 years between his first and his most recent title. That would tie him for third place on the NBA’s all-time list with Sam Cassell. Robert Parish spaced 16 seasons between his first and his final ring, while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the mark for biggest championship spread at 17 (1971 with Milwaukee, 1988 with the Lakers).