|Tim Duncan...Greatness has never been so quite.|
Once upon a time, someone asked me who I thought the best basketball player of this generation was. Who was the one player I’ll remember the most? Who was the player that I’ll proudly look back to and gloat that I was able to see? The easy answers would be players like Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. All of these guys great. All of these guys NBA Champions and NBA MVPs and NBA All-Stars and blah, blah, blah, but none can ever really be called the “best” player of their generation. Shaq was the most "dominant". On the nights when Shaq gave a f**k, no one, and I mean no one in the history of basketball, was stopping him. Part of it was skill, but a good chunk of it was Shaq hitting the physical lottery. No one is stopping 7’ 2” and 325 pounds when it’s engaged and motivated. Garnett was the most "intense." KG always gave a crap. Even on those hopeless T-Wolves teams in the early 00s he always gave 110% and played each game like it was Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Bryant was the most gifted and most fun to watch. He's the closest thing we will EVER see to Michael Jordan and enough can't be said for that. He runned-and-gunned his way to over 30,000 career points and has played at a 1st Team All-NBA level for over 16 years. I can’t even begin to explain how hard that is to do.
|Celtics fans really hate this picture for some strange reason|
But again, none of these guys were the “best”. All except, Kobe where traded at least once. (Before LA hijacked Pau Gasol from Memphis, Kobe did everything but wear a “for sale” sign on the court.) Shaq was too busy rapping or being funny to truly care about basketball the way he should have. (Shaq is the GREATEST WASTE OF TALENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE NBA. Again, dude hit the physical lotto, but didn't do everything he could have done to be the best player ever. And that pisses me off. Shaq only made 3 All-NBA Defensive Teams and each was only 2nd team. He only won one MVP and had he gave a crap about making at least 70% of his free throws, he could have scored at least 2,500 more points. Shaq, you owe my Lakers at least 2 more titles and I say they should have waited at least 10 years to retire your jersey. AM I THE ONLY ONE THAT KNOWS YOU WERE A F***ING CELTIC!!! Ugh!!! Let me move on before I get madder.) Garnett wasn’t good enough to build around and had to go to Boston to win a ring and he may even be traded again after this season.
I’m the world’s biggest Kobe fan, but I have to admit that there were a lot of years Kobe wasn’t the best teammate and/or, by all accounts anyway, the best person to be around. Trade talk not withstanding, Kobe had his troubles off the court (Lakers fans seem to forget about Colorado.) and was so un-coachable at one point in his career that Phil Jackson said "Screw it! I'm out!" (Do you think Phil Jackson ever thought about NOT coaching Michael Jordan during his prime?! How bad of a person was Kobe to have a coach give up on him during his prime?!) Only one player was good enough to truly build around. (As in, other players would have killed to play with him. And if they couldn't kill to play with him, they'd take less money to play with him.) Only one player NEVER, EVER, EVER had his team think, even for a millisecond, of trading him. Only one player has won 70% of his games. Only one player has won at least 50 games every year. (Strike shorten season of 1999 not withstanding.) That player is Tim Duncan. Even his nickname is boring. The Big Fundamental?
We, basketball and sports fans in general really, have romanced over the “flashy” athlete. Over the ESPN SportsCenter highlight warriors like T-Mac (Who looks like he’s going to ride Duncan’s coattail to his first title. Feel free to run outside and scream at the thought of that like I just did.) and Vince Carter. But we get mad when a guy complains about not making enough money. We think it’s the end of the world when a guy beats his wife or girlfriend. We can’t stop “killing” a guy when he has a “me” first attitude or when a superstar throws his teammates under the bus. We "say" we just want our athletes to play hard, always give a crap, make their teammates better, get better when it counts and not be a complete tool off the court.
For years now Tim Duncan has done all that and MORE but what does he get? He gets called “boring”. Funny huh? Duncan does it right all the time and yet we don’t give him the props. We can "say" we like all that "good guy" stuff but we secretly like watching the car wreck. We love when a guy is a d-bag. We can't get enough of it when a guy gets the talking heads on sports radio or First Take and PTI going. Tim Duncan is like a mini van doing the speed limit, where as Kobe’s like a Ferrari doing 95 in a 55 zone. It’s just more fun watching the Ferrari, even if it’s gone off the road a time or two and could possibly kill us. In a week or so, Duncan has a chance to win his 5th NBA title (Tied with Kobe and Derek Fisher for the most by an active player.) and his 4th Finals MVP, some 13 years apart from this first Finals MVP. A feat only Kareem can lay claim to.
|Duncan and Shaq in one of their epic battles.|
Sure, Duncan did have some good luck on his side. He’s had the same coach, a steady organization and a string of good teammates throughout the years. But that’s like early man beating his chest about all the great things they accomplished. It all starts with the sun homie. Tim Duncan gives life to the Spurs the same way the sun gives life to the planet and everything else falls in line. You can’t have ANYTHING WITHOUT THE SUN. (Extreme example I know, but I couldn’t think of anything else damnit so sue me.)
|This very well could happen again.|
As a Laker fan, I know all too well of the heartbreak Tim Duncan and the Spurs can bring. Duncan has at least two LA championships and the Spurs were the “harbingers of doom” again this season for the Lakers. (A four game sweep in round one of the playoffs.) So I’m sure when I post this, only a few people will read it because after all, it is Tim Duncan I’m talking about. I mean, who wants to read about Tim Duncan? But when I look back on these last 15 years of basketball and I’m really honest with myself, there’s one player I’d start a team with. God love him,and he’s my favorite player ever, but it ain’t Kobe Bryant.