Each and every year in the NBA, we could count on a few things. One of those things was the Spurs always being around. Sure, they got a year older, but they were always going to be around. And during all those runs over the years, there was one constant there: Tim Duncan. The talented power forward was always there, present and accounted for. But going forward, he will not be there anymore. There was speculation that Duncan may retire after the Spurs lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the playoffs. And as the offseason dragged on, the answer eventually came to us. The game he walked off the court against the Thunder was indeed his last. And as they go forward with things in San Antonio, they now have to fill the void that Duncan leaves. Of course, as he got older, his presence on the court was not as big as it used to be. But there is no doubt that he will be missed no matter what he did on the court towards the end. And his lasting effect will still be felt in the game for years to come.
From when he first entered the league, Tim Duncan had his footwork down. The Big Fundamental, as he was appropriately nicknamed, looked like he was dancing on the basketball court while he pivoted and maneuvered his way around opposing defenses. Add to his footwork the usage of his right and left hands and his patented jump shot he kissed off the backboard and he was a handful from the jump. If you look around the NBA, you don’t see many guys with footwork and the basic skills that he has as a post player. In fact, most big guys can jump but that is about it. If any big man is out there right now, they may want to think about hiring Tim Duncan as their offseason coach. His play may have been as boring as watching paint dry, but it was as deadly as a venomous snake. And he used that footwork and touch to score over 26,000 points in the NBA over his time.
But the scoring was not the only thing that made Tim Duncan who he was. Despite being arguably the best player of his generation, Duncan was as unassuming as a 6’11” big man could be. He was assertive enough to make big plays when his team needed it. But he was also smart enough to know when his team had someone with the hot hand. That is one mark of a great player checking his ego at the door. Duncan not only checked his ego at the door when it came to demanding the basketball but also when Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. When Popovich felt Duncan messed up on an assignment, he let him have it. Any other player would yell back in regards to this manner. But Duncan took it all in and in stride. He knew that he had to take the coaching if he wanted to make it. And for a guy that is a superstar, albeit quiet, he allowed the coach to coach him. In today’s NBA, this is quite rare for any star player to do.
All in all, Tim Duncan had a great career. He won five championships (first player to win three championships in three different decades), two MVP trophies and was a three-time NBA Finals MVP. Along with all those accolades, he is the Spurs all-time leading scorer as he exits the game. But two things that he will be remembered for are his footwork and his humility. He was even so humble as to accept a bench role at times over his career. All Tim cared about was helping his team in any way possible. Tim Duncan will be missed, but he went out on his terms, as quietly as possible. And while folks are hailing Kobe and his career, there needs to be some time taken out for Tim Duncan and all that he accomplished. The Big Fundamental had a great career and now the greatest power forward of all-time is officially retired.
The General Mike Patton is an up-and-coming writer from Nashville, TN who brings a fresh and non-biased opinion about sports. From his radio experience in Nashville to his time as a sports writer for Free’s World, the website for radio personality and former cohost of BET’s 106 and Park Free (www.freesworld.com), The General is definitely one you want to get to know in the sports world. You can catch his work on SPORTSAWAKENING.COM. Mike grew up rooting for the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bulls and Chicago Cubs, and remains a passionate sports fan who expresses intelligent opinions.
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