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. Pelicans’ coach sees Anthony Davis making big leap with Team USA

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:24 AM EDT

    Anthony Davis Anthony Davis

    Anthony Davis should lead the Pelicans to the playoffs, which would make Monty Williams feel safer.

  2. Manny Pacquiao wants to sign Metta World Peace to his Filipino team

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Eight-time world boxing champion Manny P Eight-time world boxing champion Manny P

    World Peace/Pandas Friend has already reached terms to play in China. Bidding war?

  3. Jeff Green donates $1 million to Georgetown athletic department

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT

    NCAA East Regional Final - Georgetown v UNC Getty Images

    Celtics forward contributes money toward construction of building named for John Thompson Jr.

  4. Ty Lawson says not to sleep on Denver Nuggets

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT

    Denver Nuggets Lawson celebrates a three-point shot against Golden State Warriors in their NBA Western Conference quarter-final basketball playoff in Denver Reuters

    If the Nuggets stay healthy, they are again a playoff threat in the West.

  5. Cavaliers GM admits concerns about rim protection on defense

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Kevin Love, David Griffin Kevin Love, David Griffin

    Protecting the paint is the obvious Achilles heel of the Cavaliers, on paper anyway.

  6. Kings rookie Nik Stauskus shares summer NBA experiences (VIDEO)

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:01 AM EDT

    Stauskas is thrilled to have finally made it to the NBA.

  7. Miami Heat top 10 plays of 2014 season (VIDEO)

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:29 PM EDT

    Chris Bosh Chris Bosh

    Wade and Bosh show they can get the job done now that LeBron has moved on.

  8. Supreme Court has a basketball court (photo)

    Aug 28, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Highest Court in the Land

  9. Damian Lillard first in line as Team USA injury replacement

    Aug 28, 2014, 5:35 PM EDT

    Dominican Republic v United States Getty Images

    Could Trail Blazers guard replace Derrick Rose in World Cup?

  10. Watch the World Cup hype video

    Aug 28, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    See Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon and Serge Ibaka dance

  11. Rockets sign undrafted Tarik Black to partially guaranteed two-year contract

    Aug 28, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Tarik Black, Hassan Whiteside, DeAndre Daniels Tarik Black, Hassan Whiteside, DeAndre Daniels

    Black, who played at Kansas and Memphis, could be headed to Houston’s D-League affiliate

  12. David Griffin defends Cavaliers’ pursuit of John Calipari

    Aug 28, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT

    David Griffin David Griffin

    Dan Gilbert, after throwing money at Kentucky coach, settled for management that landed LeBron James and Kevin Love this offseason

  13. Lakers’ physical therapist: Kobe Bryant has highest pain tolerance I’ve ever seen

    Aug 28, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Charlotte Bobcats Getty Images

    Judy Seto doesn’t even bother asking Kobe to rate his pain, because the question is pointless

  14. Dante Exum to come off the bench for Australia in World Cup

    Aug 28, 2014, 12:20 PM EDT

    Dante Exum Dante Exum

    Jazz guard will play behind Matthew Dellavedova and Ryan Broekhoff

  15. Coach K had DeMarcus Cousins as USA’s backup big long before final cuts

    Aug 28, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

    Dominican Republic v USA Getty Images

    Cousins was long safe and part of the USA rotation.

  16. Report: Kobe Bryant studying Paul Pierce on how to adapt game as he ages

    Aug 28, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

    Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant

    If you’re trying to age your game gracefully, Pierce is a great model.

Featured video

Will LeBron get booed Christmas Day in Miami?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Love (3673)
  2. D. Rose (2932)
  3. K. Bryant (2580)
  4. L. James (2502)
  5. K. Irving (2250)
  1. T. Young (2050)
  2. A. Davis (2036)
  3. R. Allen (1864)
  4. S. Marion (1775)
  5. E. Okafor (1698)