VIDEO: Tim Duncan delivers the dagger to the Hawks
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Years from now, when folks are cruising through the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and stumble upon Tim Duncan‘s name, I hope they realize exactly what a unique NBA creature he was.
San Antonio’s rock throughout the Spurs’ run as one of the best franchises in all of sports, Duncan’s skill set separated him from the pack of the greatest power forwards and big men who came before, during and probably after his playing days.
You saw him last night, at 37 and into his 17th season of his glorious grind, running off of a screen with the game on the line against the Hawks as Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer, who spent 19 years with the Spurs, knew exactly what was coming. There he was knocking down a shot that players of his ilk (Karl Malone, Kevin McHale, Charles Barkley, etc.) would have struggled to make, had anyone even thought of running a play like that for them at a similar late stage of their Hall of Fame careers.
There is a reason, even with Duncan shooting a career-worst 44 percent this season, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t hesitate to draw up a game-winning play for the most fundamentally sound big man ever. There’s a reason he opts for Duncan over the likes of All Stars (and fellow future Hall of Famers) Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in these instances that require a sure thing.
Only in the Land of Duncan does this happen. He made history, of course, Monday night, becoming the oldest player to record a 20-point, 20-rebound game since the league began recording rebounds. And yet he’ll be overshadowed this morning by flashier highlights from games around the league (that Indiana-Portland game was a showcase of young up-and-coming talent and teams).
Thank your lucky stars that all of today’s technology will allow us to enjoy Duncan’s brilliance for years to come, long after has left the stage and his exploits have faded from the memory of not only his generation, but those that follow.
He is just now cranking up his production this season. He got off to a slow start — it’s allowable for a player with his long list of accomplishments — but is averaging a much more Duncan-like 16.6 points (on 56 percent shooting) and 10.2 rebounds over his past five games.
“I feel a lot healthier now,” Duncan told reporters after the win over the Hawks. “For a while there, I was dealing with some stuff, but now my body is feeling good and I’m starting to get my legs underneath me.”
When healthy, he is still capable of dominating the competition.
Duncan showed us during the Spurs’ run to The Finals last year that he still had plenty left in his tank. His reign as the league’s true big man monarch has not ended … not officially.
VIDEO: Tim Duncan talks about his shot to beat the Hawks