Why Tim Duncan IS The Best Player In The NBA Today
I want to say right off that there is no doubt there are several excellent players in today's NBA. Many people have their favorites and Duncan is not mine. That being said, not only do I respect each players on an NBA's rosters ability, but I have watched it quite intently. I also have had the privilege of watching Duncan in many ACC games, being in ACC country.
It would be easy to point out my admiration in his securing an education before an NBA dollar. Especially if you notice that virtually every kid in most mocks for the 2008-09 NBA Draft are freshman. Duncan had offers yearly since his freshman year, and wasn't on a top ACC team every year either. It is clear winning is important to him, but it seems quite evident his mind comes first. He had made a promise to his dying mother just before his 14th birthday that he would get a college education. After I saw Duncan for four years, I thought he could be an All Star, but he hadn't really yet shown us what he could really do yet. I saw the leadership, toughness, unselfishness (a rare commodity in today's NBA), and ability to play D. But, since he was stuck in the zone schemes, he hadn't yet showed his consistent and impressive range. Even after winning college Player of the Year, ACC Player of the Year and the John Wooden Award in his senior year.
When the Spurs lucked into Duncan in 1997, I knew he would be the center they needed. David Robinson was a small forward stuck in a 7 footers body and wasn't exactly fond of doing the dirty work needed to win. Duncan immediately picked up the slack and continues today to do the little things that are left off stat sheets to win. Duncans drive is unquestioned, even if it may seem he is almost morose by his facial expression. This expression is actually psychology used on opponents. Much like how Jim Brown got up very slowly after each rushing attempt, this psychology major never lets an opponent rattle him while waiting for a moment for which the guy guarding him relaxes, so that he can score.
When Tim Duncan steps onto the NBA hardwood, you can practically put down 20 points and 10 rebounds in the stat sheet before tip off. In fact, Duncan has averaged over 20 PPG and over 11 RPG in almost each of his 11 NBA seasons. He scored 18.6 in 2005-06, and 19.3 PPG this year and 10 RPG in 2006-07. That is what one would call a consistent career. He also has averaged over 2 BPG every season. He has shot 50% on the floor for his career and his lowest was .484%. Not bad for a kid who didn't start playing basketball until his 9th grade year.
Duncan led the Spurs to their first ever NBA Championship in his second season. He has led them to 4 NBA Championship wins in his 11 years so far, while winning the NBA Championship MVP 3 times ( one of only 4 players to have done so). Duncan has also won the NBA MVP twice, as well as Rookie of the Year. He has been voted onto 10 All Star teams, while winning the All Star game MVP in 2000. He has been named to All NBA team and All NBA Defensive team in every season of his career.
Duncan has had one constant in his career. Head coach Greg Popovich. In Duncans era, the Spurs have won about 70% of their regular season games, the highest winning percentage of any team in all sports. Popovich has smartly placed good complimentary players around Duncan throughout his career. First there was David Robinson, then Rasho Nesterovic, and now Fabricio Oberto to play next to him. He has had solid guard play with Avery Johnson, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker to feed him the ball. Other important complimentary players have also been vital to the teams successes. Duncan, however, is the constant in their success and game plan.
Duncan is 6'11", and certainly does not play as flashy a game as others. Other smaller guys may seem more spectacular with their dunks, or moves to the basket. Duncan needs no flash. He is all grit. Constant grit. Reliable. Dependable. His charity work off the court is even more impressive than his feats in the NBA.
Tim Duncan is the last guy one would expect to be accused of rape or make outrageous statements. You won't hear him complain about his team, nor organization either. I am not a Spurs fan, I'm a Wizards fan. But I am certainly a fan of Tim Duncan. The man, as well as the basketball player. He should be the face of the NBA, but he has no ego to flaunt himself, nor shill products by questionable corporations as so many other NBA players do.
When you talk about the greatest power forwards to have ever played in the NBA, you can mention Elvin "The Big E" Hayes, Karl Malone, or Kevin McHale. Maybe even a few others? But Tim Duncan's name should always be one of the first names brought into the discussion.
Imagine if more kids stayed in school and educated their minds? Perhaps the NBA wouldn't be suffering an image problem as it is today? This was not an issue for the NBA until David Stern was named commissioner. Maybe if the kids got an education first, they would be more like Tim Duncan : a winner in life and sports.