San Antonio Spurs

The Best Of This Era

by Trevor Freeman

“The definition of “Tim Duncanitis” is when the media and followers of a sport make arguments that other players are best, because they just don’t want to state the obvious.  In Tim Duncan’s case, pundits love to predict LeBron James or Dwyane Wade to be the MVP/Best Player in basketball even though it’s painfully clear to every rational human being watching hoops that the best player is indeed Duncan.  This is why Tim Duncan has only won two MVP’s.”
You know how in professional wrestling they always pair the guy who can’t talk shit with a manager.  Rob Van Dam had Bill Alfonso, the “One Man Gang” had “Slick” and Andre The Giant had Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.  I think Tim Duncan needs that.  Or he needs to pull a David Beckham or Pete Sampras and marry a real hot B-list actress/singer.  Tim Duncan needs someone or something that casually announces he is the best at his profession because that is what he is.  When San Antonio wraps up this series with Cleveland over the next week, Tim Duncan will cement himself as the greatest player since Michael Jordan AND the best pure power forward to ever play the game of basketball.      

For some reason, Tim Duncan has never been universally pronounced as the best basketball player on the planet.  You always hear people say that “Shaq is the most dominant force” or “Kobe is the best player”.  People often laud LeBron James and Dwyane Wade as the guys they would start a franchise with.  Steve Nash has won two MVPs in the last three years.  Dirk Nowitzki won it this year.  Even now you have Kevin Garnett backers who tell you that his supporting cast is what is holding him back.  

I’ll say it for Tim.  He is better than all of those guys.  In fact, Tim Duncan is a lot like “Law & Order”.  He has quietly cranked out greatness through the years and watched competitors just come and go.  

The only real debate comes from Shaquille O’Neal, however it hardly is one.  While the two of them will be tied at four championships, Tim Duncan has never had the teammates Shaq had.  At Shaq’s apex he played with Kobe Bryant in his prime.  Plus, Shaq’s fourth championship was basically him playing “Robin” to Dwyane Wade’s “Batman”.  On the flip side, if you take Tim Duncan off the Spurs then Tony Parker is just a French guy who needs to shave more often and Manu Ginobili is an Argentinian guy who needs to stop by The Hair Club For Men on his way home from practice.  Tim Duncan was the “guy” on four separate NBA Championship teams.  

If you want to take a historical look versus other big men the only one who Duncan does not compare favorably to in terms of leading his team to NBA titles is Bill Russell.  Chamberlain only got two.  Kareem Abdul-Jabaar did get six titles, however Magic Johnson was the straw that stirred the drink on five of those teams.  

Not only has Tim Duncan dominated at being a competitor but he has excelled at being a teammate.  My biggest problem with what Kobe Bryant did two weeks ago was that he essentially threw his teammates under the bus.  When you say “I haven’t gotten the help around me I was promised” you might as well say, “my teammates suck and I can’t win with this batch of losers.”  While this year’s San Antonio Spurs do have a great roster and are a team that ranks amongst the best teams since 1980, Duncan has won titles with supporting casts that were nowhere near championship caliber.  The team he led to the title in 2002-2003 had one of the weakest supporting casts to ever win an NBA Finals.

Maybe Duncan has gotten lost in the shuffle because his approach to basketball has always been the right way.  He stayed all four years of college and dominated.  His decision and Peyton Manning’s decision to stay in school will still go down as the two most shocking of my lifetime.  This is in an era of self-gratification.  Where players declare early and try like hell to lock up that first contract so they can buy a Bentley and “make it rain” at the club.  

It is most likely Tim Duncan gets forgotten about because he chooses to be.  Possessing the personality of a Pete Sampras or Roger Federer, Duncan has chosen to quietly go about the business of winning ballgames while displaying a character that makes you wish more people in sports would follow his example.  Maybe he doesn’t have a reality show coming out teaching overweight kids how to lose weight and maybe he wasn’t a high school prodigy.  However he is the best of this era and any intelligent debate should end by Sunday.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected].  

4 replies on “The Best Of This Era”

always good stuff Trevor, but I would’t trivialize Ginobli and Parker the way you did. They’re pretty damn good players, not parking meters that just take up space and money. THere’s plenty of those on the Cavs.

I get your point that they need Duncan like I needed alcohol to get laid in HS, but they’re still good.

Maybe it’s just the numbers. Duncan never put up the gaudy stats or had strings of 50 point games or a game with 44 rebounds like others had. I’ll still take his solid 20 and 10 every night plus god-knows-how-many altered shots and perfectly set screens and keeping the defense honest.

Thank you I probably should have been a little nicer to Tony and Manu but I really had those jokes cooking in my head.

I think a lot of the reason Duncan gets overlooked is because you rarely see him hang a 50 point game.  He’s just a consistent 20 and 10 who plays great defense and gets his teammates involved as much as he can.  He is the consummate professional. Probably the player that does the best job of making other people around him better.

duncan is not superman while I thought your insertion of humor, particularily with Parker and Ginobli, was funny, I felt you didn’t give them the credit that they’re due. Duncan is not playing with a bunch of nobody’s I’m not refuting how good he is. But Parker is one of the better point guards, Ginobli is a versatile and athletic guard, and this team is gushing with role players and young talent. Over the years Duncan has seen solid scorers and defenders come and go from his team: Nick Van Exel, Glenn Robinson, Steve Kerr. And he still has Brent Barry, Robert Horry, and Bruce Bowen. This team would be very good, even without Duncan. Would they have won 4 titles? No. But with guys like Parker and Ginobli, winning means too much to them for them to not have gotten 2 of those 4 without Duncan. I mean, take Duncan away, and you have the same guys plus some guy that would be taking Duncan’s place. This is a great TEAM. And they’re this good because it’s been the same guys for the last 6 or 7 years, not because Duncan is Superman.

The Supporting Cast Parker and Ginobili are better than the credit I gave them in the column.  I was definitely gunning for humor with those two lines.  However I think you would find they are closer to ordinary than stars if Duncan wasn’t on that team.  Every single top-notch point guard abuses Tony Parker when he sees him.  Even though Utah lost that series, Deron Williams was absolutely killing Tony Parker out there.  Ginobili is another guy who is good, but gets a lot of one on one chances out there because Duncan is on the court.  If you took Duncan off the Spurs, not only would they not win any of those four titles, I think you’d be watching a team hard-pressed to make the playoffs.  Take Duncan off this team and do you believe that they are better than the Golden State Warriors who were the eighth seed in the West.

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