Skip to content

Tim Duncan playing for his legacy in Game 7, too

Jun 20, 2013, 5:20 PM EDT

San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 6 Getty Images

When the San Antonio Spurs won the 1997 NBA lottery – long before they drafted Tim Duncan – Spurs chairman Peter Holt referenced the Wake Forest big man and said, “The world is our oyster.”

Holt very well could have been imagining multiple Most Valuable Player awards and twice as many championships won by his No. 1 pick. That’s what every team dreams of when it lands the top pick.

The reality is few teams actually get it.

In the last 25 drafts, Duncan is the only No. 1 pick to win a championship with the team that picked him. Going back further, the last top pick to win a title with his original team was David Robinson, who reached the conference finals only once before Duncan showed up.

Holt was right. The world was the Spurs’ oyster, and Duncan was the catalyst for all of it. He spent one season as Robinson’s No. 2 and a short time as the Hall of Famer’s peer and then became the team’s unquestioned top player. Duncan won MVPs in 2002 and 2003 and was center stage for championships in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007 and could be again this season.

But a funny thing happened along the way. Duncan stopped becoming recognized as San Antonio’s top player.

After Duncan was named Finals MVP for the Spurs’ first three titles, Tony Parker won the award in 2007. In each the last five years Parker and/or Manu Ginobili finished ahead of Duncan in regular-season MVP voting.

Duncan is clearly in a different place than LeBron James, whose legacy has been most discussed in the lead up to tonight’s Game 7. Yet, so much is still at stake for Duncan.

With a fifth title, Duncan could erase the biggest advantage Kobe Bryant holds in argument about the greatest player in the era between Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron. Duncan already has more playoff wins than 20 current franchises, and with he could tie the Phoenix Suns tonight. Plus, a fifth title would boost his case as the best power forward of all time.

LeBron, the most scrutinized player of all time, has more to lose, but Duncan is also fighting for his place in history.

At 37, Duncan might not control as much of his own fate as he once did, but he’s still capable of posting 25 points and eight rebounds in a half, as he did in the first two quarters of Game 6. But he also went scoreless in the fourth quarter and overtime as San Antonio lost its lead.

At this point, Duncan can still do plenty, but he clearly needs help. History will remember his fifth title more than how he got it, though. If Duncan summons the production he had in the first half of Game 6 and gets the necessary support, Holt could be singing his praises again – this time on a stage at center of American Airlines Arena.

Once again, the world is the Spurs’ oyster, right there for the taking. Duncan has a chance to seize his legacy, too.

Duncan is a once-in-a-generation player with one more chance to prove he’s the player of his generation.

Latest Posts
  1. Tuesday And-1 Links: Was Mark Jackson fired over religion?

    Sep 23, 2014, 9:16 PM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat - Game Two Getty Images

    Lance Stephenson with a dolphin? We got that.

  2. Report: Michael Beasley reaches agreement with Memphis Grizzlies

    Sep 23, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT

    heat beasley Getty Images

    Memphis is the latest team to try to salvage the former second overall pick in the 2008 draft.

  3. 67RIEFNS No. 6: Return of injured players

    Sep 23, 2014, 6:31 PM EDT

    NBA All-Star Practice NBA All-Star Practice

    Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose among the more intriguing names on the list.

  4. Mavericks unveil fan-designed new 2015-16 “skyline” alternate jerseys

    Sep 23, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT

    dallas Mavericks skyline alternate jersey

    It’s a play off what Seattle and Denver have done before.

  5. Celtics owner, GM both say they want to keep Rajon Rondo in green

    Sep 23, 2014, 3:29 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers Vs. Boston Celtics At TD Garden Getty Images

    Danny Ainge has done a good job with keeping his options open.

  6. Report: NBA not actively investigating source of Luol Deng African comment

    Sep 23, 2014, 2:38 PM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    Adam Silver also says league isn’t looking into owners’ pasts

  7. Wizards sign Rasual Butler, Damion James

    Sep 23, 2014, 1:26 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    James reportedly received guaranteed contract

  8. Early new drawings for proposed Warriors arena… that does look like a toilet

    Sep 23, 2014, 12:50 PM EDT

    Warriors-Mission-Bay-Arena-Concept-Design-NW-View-thumb-896x491-860535

    Not a lot of people will see the building from above, and it’s early in the process, but…. that’s not pretty.

  9. Kyle Lowry: Raptors wanted me just as Steve Nash’s backup

    Sep 23, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles Lakers Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles Lakers

    The many times Toronto and Kyle Lowry could have blown it with each other

  10. Dirk Nowitzki developed quicker shot release. That’s just not fair.

    Sep 23, 2014, 11:38 AM EDT

    Philadelphia 76ers v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    He’s already the best midrange shooter in the game.

  11. Dwyane Wade shows off blood-spattered Dexter shoes (photos)

    Sep 23, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Dwyane Wade Dwyane Wade

    Heat guard getting style from fictional Miami serial killer

  12. Mavericks sign Doron Lamb

    Sep 23, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Jimmer Fredette, Doron Lamb Jimmer Fredette, Doron Lamb

    Lamb, after playing for Bucks and Magic, likely to fall out of NBA following training camp

  13. Report: Nets signing Willie Reed

    Sep 23, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Los Angeles D-Fenders v Springfield Armor Los Angeles D-Fenders v Springfield Armor

    Reed, previously a member of Kings and Grizzlies, in line to compete for roster spot

  14. Andrew Wiggins not bad with first pitch before Twins game (VIDEO)

    Sep 23, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

    Arizona Diamondbacks v Minnesota Twins Getty Images

    He’s better than Charles Barkley already at this.

  15. NBA’s rookie transition program presents information in a compelling way in order to promote real discussion

    Sep 23, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Initially uncomfortable information is presented in order to create a dialogue on real-life scenarios, which helps prepare rookies for their initial steps into the NBA life.

  16. NBA tips-off season-long All-Star charitable outreach program in New York area

    Sep 23, 2014, 2:25 AM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    Monday tipped-off a series of NBA Cares and charitable events around the New York area tied to the All-Star Game.

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. E. Bledsoe (3042)
  2. R. Rondo (2946)
  3. K. Bryant (2366)
  4. L. James (2331)
  5. R. Allen (2163)
  1. N. Young (1895)
  2. D. Rose (1834)
  3. R. Rubio (1785)
  4. J. Hickson (1715)
  5. B. Jennings (1666)