You give me one player in their prime to start a team with, give me Tim Duncan. A healthy and functional Tim Duncan leading a basketball team is the scariest thing I’ve ever witnessed in the NBA. People will continuously ask me, “How can you possibly like the Boston Celtics AND the San Antonio Spurs?” Easy answer: I’ve always loved the Celtics, and I’ve been enamored with the Spurs since Duncan came into the league in 1997. I’m an old-school NBA fan, therefore I love fundamentalist style of play, and love the fundamental mentality. I love everything about the ’50s and ’60s style of basketball. While I still love flashy basketball (in small doses), nothing will ever beat the fundamental style of play.
With that said, Tim Duncan is the most fundamentally sound basketball player we’ve saw in years. His style of play is basic but effective, so effective that sometimes his play is completely unconscious and you can’t stop him no matter how hard you try. The wicked foot-in/foot-back step he has when he’s getting ready to jump off the ground for about 0.8 inches to drill a bankshot jumper looks more simple than ever, yet Duncan has mastered this simplistic approach and has been given the rite of passage to own the moniker The Big Fundamental.
Whether you think Timmy D is boring or not, you can’t deny his greatness or the fact that he’s been the key to the Spurs’ four championships. Granted he didn’t win the titles by himself, but he was the key factor in those title runs. You take Duncan out of the equation, you take away all four championships.
In 2007 when Tony Parker won the NBA Finals MVP, I could have made an easy case for Duncan winning the Finals MVP instead, even if he didn’t have the stats to compete with Parker.
Simple. Watch the Spurs play, if it doesn’t make you ‘fall asleep.’ Duncan’s presence on the court has scared so many defenses that when Parker is dribbling up the court and setting up the offense, while Duncan is on the block calling for the ball, the opposing point guard that is guarding Parker is always a couple of feet back watching for a pass to Duncan, giving Parker a hell of a lot of space to pull up for the easy J.
What about Manu Ginobili? His Houdini-esque slashes to the basket? Duncan’s pick-and-rolls, his ability to move away from the basket, his play near the baseline — all of it helps out Ginobili and the rest of the Spurs offense by giving them room. And when you double Duncan, don’t wilt and think you’ve got him, because his indelible ability to hit freakish hook shots is unbelievable.
Don’t knock the San Antonio Spurs.
Don’t call them boring (OK, well, call them boring if you wish — that’s your prerogative to think such a wild fallacy), don’t call them old, don’t call them decrepit. Because when you did it the last two times (2005 and 2007), they won the title.
History repeats itself. Call me insane, but I’m picking the San Antonio Spurs to win the 2009 NBA Finals.