We got the NBA logo from Jerry West, if we saw a silhouette of a man jumping spreading his arms and legs, that’s Michael Jordan. When we think about Tim Duncan, we can draw a vivid memory of him embracing the ball with his two arms forming a lock, with his expression less face.
The Ball represents Duncan’s tightly guarded life. He came into the league without fanfare, without the baggy shorts, heavy tattoos and unprecedented hype. And now after 19 years he goes out the same way he started. He was the ultimate player who is anti-charismatic. Who evades attention who doesn’t trash talk and who never pounds his chest every made shot and at times look completely uninterested. This was a guy who is contented even if he scores only a point but sees his team winning and feels like he has a 40 point scoring ball game. His go to move, isn’t a step back jumper or a cross over ankle breaker, when all fails he goes to his old school bank shot from off the glass and cash in the game. There wasn’t anything inherently compelling about him. People failed to appreciate him, he doesn’t have Lebron’s athleticism or Steph Curry’s charisma but what he brings to the table is his consistency.
Year after year the Spurs are always in the playoffs winning five championships in Duncan’s 19 year career. He always has the knack for picking his spots and make his teammates better. In case of emergency, there is the panic button and there is the Duncan button. He takes over games when the need arises. His best teammates are the past his prime David Robinson, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard that are not in the top 15 players in the NBA. And yet time and time again the Spurs are the perennial team vying for the championship. In 2007, Tim carried the Spurs all the way to the championship. And when the NBA media awarded Tony Parker the finals MVP, no one is happier than Tim. Those are traits that cannot be measured on mere statistics alone.
On the recent free agent fiasco, when superstars jump on to teams to win championships, Tim Duncan symbolizes that lone superstar who tried to stick to his team, regardless if he wins a title or not. Maybe the glitz and glamour of big market teams never really appealed to him. He wasn’t really concern about brand building or things bigger than what he expected.
Winning proved to be his fountain of youth, his drive to continue to be better each year. With the signing of Pau Gasol to the Spurs, and Kevin Durant’s jump shipped to Golden state, this is about the right time for Tim to finally hang his jersey. No more chasing rings. Away from the bright lights of the NBA and away from everyone’s attention.
Duncan leaves the game without the fanfare and goodbye tours.
And as we remember him wrapping the ball in his arms every tip off. We reminisce on his simplicity and humility. He leaves the game happy because True humility breeds contentment.
NBA has lost a true superstar, the player who made everyone better and came through when it really mattered.