Top NBA Players: #29 Tim Duncan

Mar. 27, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan takes a shot during game against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. The Spurs defeated the Suns 107-100. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Tim Duncan
Resume: 15.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 28.2 minutes, 49% FG, and 70% FT… Team record in games played: 45-13 (5-3 without)… Playoffs: 17.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 50% FG, 71% FT, 10-4 record

If you’ve been following along with this countdown for the last twenty days, you’ve probably noticed an ongoing theme. I put a lot of stock in guys that you could “go to war with”. Basically, that is the essence of this list. Maybe he isn’t the biggest or fastest guy on the floor, and maybe he isn’t even the most individually talented player out there. You just know that in a game where yours and his lives were both on the line, you want him going to war for you.

Tim Duncan has been going to war in the NBA since I was a Kindergartener. That was 15 long years ago. Since he came into the league in 1997, Tim Duncan has been the epitome of what a basketball player should be. He’s quietly taken care of business like no other power forward ever has. Nine 1st Team All-NBA nods, four NBA Titles, three Finals MVP’s (should be four), 2 regular season MVP’s and a partridge in a pear tree. That’s a pretty impressive resume right there. Don’t forget to consider that Duncan is one of the best defensive players, teammates, locker room guys and big game players in NBA history. In the big scheme of things, Tim Duncan is VASTLY underrated.

Trust me, I know quite well how good Tim Duncan was and is. For whatever reason, I never liked Tim Duncan growing up. Maybe it’s because my mom was a Utah Jazz fan and every Western Conference contender was a hated rival back in the day. Even more recently, it could have something to do with the congregation of Lakers fans that make up my family and friends. Perhaps it could’ve been something as simple as when you are a kid, you like the flashy guys, not the guys like Duncan (unless you are my cousin Gianni, who’s been on the Tim Duncan bandwagon since Jump Street). When I was 9 years old I didn’t appreciate the brilliance of Tim Duncan. It’s not always fun for a kid to enjoy watching Duncan catch the ball in the post, shot fake and draw a foul. I wanted to see dunks and 3 pointers, not bank shots from 12 feet out. That’s why I spent a rough two years as a Tracy McGrady fan. What the hell was I thinking? As I grew up my eyes started to open to the things that really matter in basketball. Thinking back to what Duncan has accomplished, I probably would’ve had the life-size Tim Duncan poster hanging up in my room just like Gianni did (and still might) if I knew then what I know now.

Yeah, it’s been a while since the heyday of Tim Duncan. Five NBA Champions have been crowned since the Spurs last played in an NBA Finals. The make-up of the Spurs has drastically changed, and Tim Duncan as a player has changed. The Tim Duncan of 2012 is a much different player than the 2007 version. The 2007 version was much different than the 2003 version. When the Spurs were winning titles in the early/mid 2000’s, you knew that Tim Duncan was always going to be the best player during every Spurs playoff series. Over the last five years, that wasn’t a foregone conclusion. Actually it was downright unlikely. Sometimes Duncan seems like the prototypical aged veteran who is past his prime, a step too slow and not nearly as good as he used to be. He can’t log the big minutes he did early in his career, he doesn’t put up nightly double-doubles and he even misses games because he is old. Still, if I am going to war, I don’t think it’s too crazy to believe that there is one vintage Duncan performance left in the vault.