I caught the late night edition Sportscenter last night before I crashed, and fought to keep my eyes open as I watched highlights of the San Antonio Spurs game. Between my closing eyelids I was able to make out Tim Duncan’s line for the game — 15 points, 18 boards, and 11 assists. “Tim Duncan gets no credit,” I said to my roommate. “Years from now when asked to name the best centers in NBA history, Duncan will be left off that list all to often.” A brief conversation ensued, and my roommate (a wise man) largely agreed. So here it is — I figured it’s time Tim Duncan got his due.
My initial reaction to Duncan’s numbers last night was this — If Rajon Rondo (who I love) had a 15 point, 18 rebound, 11 assist game the Sportcenter anchors would be on their knees worshiping him (as they often are). Sure, Rondo does this in a flashy, electric manner (which is worth something). But Duncan should not be penalized for putting up these numbers and yawning six times while doing it. That’s exactly how many times the commentators yawned as they watched him do it. Nonetheless, his contribution is the same.
Sure, he’s a somewhat boring, very fundamental player to watch. Sure, his personality is as exciting as your average plain graham cracker (not even the cinnamon or chocolate ones). All of this hurts his image, his legacy, and leads to his underrated status. But sit back and take a minute to tell me how you can under-appreciate this:
Duncan is 30th on the all-time scoring list, with only 7 centers ahead of him. All of those players have played many more games than he has at this point (he’s 34 years old). He is 24th all-time in rebounds and 11th all-time in blocks, again, playing far fewer games than the players ahead of him. His average game for his career is 21 points, 11.6 boards, and 2.3 blocks. In the playoffs he averages 23 points and 12.4 boards per game.
Those are nice numbers and all, but what really wowed me is this:
Duncan has played in every all-star game since the ’97-’98 season with the exception of the ’98-’99 season. In that same period he has won the Rookie of the Year award, 2 NBA MVP awards, 3 NBA Finals MVP awards (Kobe only has 2), and has made 12 NBA All-Defensive teams. He’s finished in the top 5 in MVP voting 9 times.
Oh yea, and he’s won 4 NBA championships. Considering he won the Finals MVP in 3 of those years, it’s fair to say he’s pretty responsible for those banners hanging in the rafters in San Antonio. Few players, if any, have had more to do with their team winning championships.
I appreciate Tim Duncan. The question is, do you?
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