Arguably, (and most of the time not arguably), the greatest power forward to ever grace the NBA turned 40 years old today. Furthermore, that same power forward is currently competing for a chance at a sixth championship in nearly his second decade, grey hairs and all.
However, Tim Duncan has seen a significant decline in numbers this past season. His points per game average has dipped to his lowest ever at 8.6. In other statistical categories, his offensive rebounding is down to 1.9, defensive rebounding down to 5.4, field goal attempts 7.2, and minutes at 25.2.
All of these numbers are career-lows for Duncan.
However, his presence is still as poignant as ever, as the 40-year old is still an integral part of this Spurs team serving as a mentor to LaMarcus Aldridge in the same way that David Robinson was for him back in 1998.
The Spurs eliminated the severely limited Memphis Grizzlies yesterday, effectively becoming the first team to advance to the second round. In good jest, LaMarcus Aldridge had this to say about his veteran power-forward:
“Tim’s 100 years old, so guys like that, they need to rest.”
And he’s not wrong, rest is something the Spurs value with the utmost respect.
Seemingly every year, there’s discussion on if Tim Duncan will finally hang ’em up. Year after year, it’s more or less the same response from the Big Fundamental: ‘I still feel like I can contribute’.
Clearly the love and the passion for the game is still there. He’s in a winning culture, and it’s intoxicating to others seeing how prize free agents like Aldridge and David West could have chosen other more popular destinations but ultimately chose the Spurs.
There’s also rumors of future hall-of-famer big man Pau Gasol joining the Spurs this ensuing offseason according to his brother:
“If I had to guess—not that I’ve talked to him about it—would be San Antonio,” Marc Gasol said Monday when asked where he thought his brother would sign, per John Martin of 929 ESPN.
This season it seems to make sense for Duncan to ride off into the sunset….IF the Spurs can win a title. It would be an extremely perfect opportunity for him to obtain the ever-elusive 6th championship ring, and hand over the torch to LaMarcus Aldridge in the exact same fashion Robinson did to him.
Plus, there’s no circus farewell treatment that Kobe Bryant received this past season. As much as Kobe denied wanting to have a farewell tour, he did. There’s no way you pen a retirement letter midway through the season with that many games left.
Tim Duncan on the other had is the recluse; and he means it. Duncan wants to leave the NBA like a thief in the night, but he prefers to have a 6th ring in his knapsack as he escapes.
If there’s no championship the year, expect Duncan to be back donning his #21 jersey for the 2016-2017 season. He’s in a comfortable position to continue to play a veteran role in reserved minutes for the entire regular season and then turn it up for the playoffs when needed.
The only true test is the Golden State Warriors. With the announcement of a MCL sprain for Steph Curry, on top of lingering ankle issues, it’s unsure how healthy the future two-time MVP will be for the duration of the playoffs. San Antonio will surely try and capitalize on this, but Golden State has also shown they’re no slouch when it comes to playing shorthanded (see the Houston Rockets series).
Time will tell what Father Time has in store for the legend that is Tim Duncan. For now, absorb the greatness he still willfully gives to the game. The man has turned 40 now, and history has shown not many good things occur on this side of the age spectrum.