Nor has there been any mention yet of his retirement, or shown any legitimate signs that retirement is really imminent, either. Ironically, you’d think I write something about Chipper Jones, my favorite player on my favorite team, in my favorite sport, who actually has declared that 2012 is his last year and that he’s retiring when it’s over, over writing about Tim Duncan. The world works in strange ways sometimes.
But this Deadspin story about how Tim Duncan sat out of a game due to “being old,” makes me realize that the end has to be near for Tim Duncan, who is without question, one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history, and one of the few that I actually still like. Maybe one reason why I actually feel inspired and melancholy about the notion of Tim Duncan retiring is because unlike Chipper Jones, I’ve actually been witness to pretty much his entire career.
I didn’t know who Chipper Jones was in 1990, when he was the number one pick in the draft. To be honest, I really didn’t follow baseball back then either. At the time, I grew up loving basketball way more. While Chipper Jones and the Braves were winning the 1995 World Series, I was hearing about this Wake Forest sophomore named Tim Duncan decimating the ACC, who would very easily be the number one pick in the NBA draft if he declared eligibility. Even back then, I knew that players who graduated college always ended up as the more mature, polished products in their NBA careers.
Tim Duncan stayed in school for his junior and senior years, with the same things being said in between those formative years; he’d be number one pick, and that he’s clearly stupid for staying in school, risking injury, and not taking up the millions that an NBA lifestyle would grant him. Naturally, after graduation, he was still the easy number one pick, and the San Antonio Spurs picked him up. Naturally, being the mature and polished college graduate, he wasted no time in asserting himself into the pros, winning the Rookie of the Year and making his first All-Star appearance in his first year.
In 1999, two years after his arrival in the pros, Tim Duncan led the Spurs to the franchise’s first-ever NBA title. Throughout his career that’s still not over yet, he would lead the Spurs to more titles; in 2003, 2005 as well as 2007. Believe it or not, four NBA championships (in four Finals appearances) is the fourth best cumulative total in NBA history, and all have come on Tim Duncan’s watch.
Aside from the fact that Tim Duncan stayed in school, what I like the most about Tim Duncan is pretty much what most basketball fans say they hate about him – Tim Duncan is boring. Which is very true, from a bling and glitz standpoint, because Tim Duncan doesn’t do a lick of anything fancy. He just goes out and puts up 20+ points, grabs 10+ rebounds, and blocks two shots or more a night. No helicopter dunks, no boom-shaka-laka throw downs, just fundamental basketball, through and through.
His trademark move is my favorite trademark move ever – the bank shot. For some reason, street ballers and thugs really hate bank shots. People are so enamored by swishes and barely-net moving field goals, that they fail to remember that a shot that ricocheted off of the backboard counts the same. Tim Duncan perfected the art of using the backboard that it’s clearly dumbfounding (see video evidence) to those who have gone by the wayside and believe that they’re above using the backboard. Tim Duncan used it better than anyone else in the history of basketball, and when he ultimately does retire, it’s safe to assume that the art of the bank probably goes with him.
One of the YouTube commenters in the video shown above said it the best about Tim Duncan – You can’t spell boring without RING. Or in Duncan’s case, ringS, because motherfucker has four. A fifth one, preferably over the Heat, also preferably during a strike-shortened season would be some sort of a poetic perfect finish to what’s easily a hall of fame career.