Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Mike Woodson wants J.R. Smith to be a pro. Your choice for the ultimate pro?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Tim Duncan. Next to him, the Rock of Gibraltar is J.R. Smith in full shot-jacking, shoe-untying, drama-queen mode. San Antonio’s now, Springfield’s soon enough, Duncan was 37 when he was 21, forever an adult on the playground.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Tim Duncan. ‘Nuff said.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Because I’m around him all the time and have now for years, my pick is Dirk Nowitzki. Total pro. Gives 100 percent every game. Plays through everything. And unlike just about every other athlete in any sport, he stands up in front of his locker after every single game no matter the circumstance and tells it like it is. No one is more genuine. Perhaps the most honest athlete, sometimes to a fault, of any athlete in pro sports.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: A lot of teams have at least one, so a single selection would be tough. And I won’t try naming all of them without going down every roster. But Shane Battier is that ultimate glue guy, smart and mature and always prepared. That’s a pro. Guys like Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin combine a special level of play with carrying themselves like pros. There are many others.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: It has to be Tim Duncan. He’s anchored the league’s best franchise on both ends of the floor and in the locker room for 17 years now. As he’s gotten older, he’s worked harder to stay in shape, so that there’s been little drop-off in his numbers. And his leadership, his willingness to be coached, has been the biggest difference between him and other superstars around the league. That’s been a key to the Spurs’ ability to, every year, bring in new role players that fall in line and seem to fit perfectly.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: For all of the lives he’s enriched, careers he’s made, work he’s done on and off the court and the general excellence that has marked his entire career, Tim Duncan is, in my eyes, the greatest pro of all-time in any team sport. Seriously, he’ll never get the proper credit for doing it and doing the way he’s done it his entire career. But I’m not sure if I’ve digested the question properly. With Duncan as the standard, there are plenty of guys who embody the spirit of the question in some ways but not all. There is one other player, someone I feel is a bit underrated in this regard, that needs to be on the short list. Shawn Marion of the Dallas Mavericks doesn’t get the credit for being a guy that shows up year after mind-numbing consistent year and takes it to, as Mike Lowery said in “Bad Boys“, “takes it to the max, every day.” He’s had an exceptional career however you define it. He’s been at this longer than some of his current competition has been playing organized ball and while he’s never been a superstar, he has been an All-Star and a champion. Few players have stepped up to challenges, particularly defensively, the way he has over the course of his career. He was the unsung hero of the Mavericks’ championship run in the 2011 Finals (ask LeBron James) and has piled up career numbers and accomplishments along the way that might surprise you. His name is never mentioned when we’re talking about the ultimate, all-around, never-lets-you-down pros. But it should be, right near the very top.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com All Ball blog: Tim Duncan is so consistently and stridently consistent that I have joked for years that he may or may not actually be a robot. The fact that I have been able to make the same joke — regardless of the level of humor involved — for nearly a decade speaks volumes to Duncan’s constancy. Duncan may be a superstar, but it’s purely because of his production, almost in spite of his personality. Duncan has a great sense of humor hidden deep inside (check this out), but nothing is more important than process and preparation. I’ll take Duncan over anyone else any day.
XiBing Yang, NBA China: KG is that kind of person. Twelve years in Minnesota, 20+10+5 for numerous seasons — we’ve seen him do it all. He never complains, and gets himself ready for every night. He’s an old-school player. I have no doubt about the (now) old saying that every coach wants Kevin Garnett on the team. You can’t find another player who made all of his teammates and coaches love him so much, while making his opponents hate him the same way.
Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA Greece: In my mind the word “pro” goes hand-by-hand with one name, that of Ray Allen. He is the finest expression of professionalism. He works hard, takes care of his body, adapts to any kind of role, plays for the team and provides a perfect example for every young athlete. I’ve never seen him argue with a coach. He’s just always played at the highest level of intensity and concentration. It’s like watching a Bruce Lee film: he seems both calm and intense at the same time. And just remember that I haven’t even taken under consideration how good of basketball player he really is.
Adriano Albuquerque, NBA Brasil: First off, let me take this opportunity to remember Cheri Oteri‘s classic line on SNL and say everybody needs to SIMMER DOWN NOW! about J.R. The guy tries to mess around with some guys and untie their shoes and everybody loses their minds! It’s basketball, it’s all fun and games. It’s OK to let the guys play a little. Jarrett Jack threw Dorrell Wright‘s shoe to the stands last season and nobody made a fuss about it. Now, about that ultimate pro, I would go with Shane Battier. He is always regarded as one of those glue guys, he follows the blueprint set by his coaches, great leader, doesn’t complain about minutes, doesn’t ask for trades, knows his role … Has to be him, in my opinion.