Last Tour of Duty: Will Duncan Find the Spur to Play Again Next Year?
Now it's official: the San Antonio Spurs grabbed their 5th NBA title after outclassing back-to-back-defending champions Miami Heat in just five games. The Best from the West spoiled the bid of King James and company to pull off a rare three-peat feat-last achieved by the Shaq-and-Kobe Los Angeles Lakers in 2000 to 2002-in an anticlimactic fashion that was supposedly a fiercely-contested series, considering it's a much-anticipated rematch of last year's finals.
Before falling victim to Ray Allen's soul-destroying trey in Game 6 of the 2012-2013 championship, the Spurs were 30 seconds away from capturing the title, but the chance slipped away. This time around, though, it's sweet redemption. Not just an ordinary series victory, but a record-breaking point advantage in the NBA Finals; blowing out the talent-laden Heat with an impressive 70 points total winning margin in four games.
Amid the celebrations and the praises for the aging champions, one of the hottest issues that couldn't help but surface is Tim Duncan's retirement. This is no news; the media have been abuzz about the possibility of an imminent breakup of San Antonio's Big Three. There's no confirmation from the future Hall of Fame power forward as of the moment regarding this, but should Timmy call it a career any time soon, hanging his jersey at this time would mean a share of triumphs and regrets.
A Champ from Start to End
If the Big Fundamentals decides not to return next season, he would enjoy the exceptional personal achievement of winning an NBA ring during his rookie season and retiring as a champion-an accomplishment that is perhaps comparable to that of Celtics legend Bill Russell. This pretty much sums up Duncan's stellar career, from him forming the Twin Towers with David Robinson in the late 90s to serving as the foundation of the Big Three with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili throughout the 2000s.
A Lost Opportunity to Tie MJ and the Bulls
The 5th title solidifies San Antonio's stature in the upper echelon of the list of NBA teams with the most championships in history. Currently, the team is in a comfortable fourth place with two rings separating them from four more teams, including the dethroned Miami Heat, with 3 first-place trophies apiece, but one championship short of tying the record of the Chicago Bulls, whose 6 championships all came during Michael Jordan's era. While the future may seem bright for the Spurs, there's no telling if they can be a strong contender for another championship and win as many Larry O'Brien trophies as the legendary Jordan-led Bulls - without Duncan in the middle.
Is Pop Walking?
Coach Gregg Popovich has always been vocal about his intentions to exit the NBA along with his long-time franchise player. Realistically, as much as the Spurs need Duncan's leadership and veteran smarts on the hardwood, the team wouldn't run like a well-oiled machine without their master tactician. The Spurs' fluidity on both sides of the court, unselfish and pure fundamental style of play, and unparalleled consistency over the years receive sheer admiration from basketball experts around the globe.
If losing Duncan would also mean losing the genius that has been calling the shots for San Antonio for the longest time, next year's Spurs may no longer be the team everybody has loved to watch.
A Legacy That Will Live Forever
Tim Duncan has not only made an impact in the San Antonio community, but has become a basketball icon around the world. He's a two-time NBA MVP with three Finals MVP trophies. He was once the league's Rookie of the Year, a 14-time All-Star, and an eight-time member of the All-Defensive
First Team in the NBA. This living legend is a former Olympian and runs his own foundation dedicated to health awareness, research, and youth sports and recreation in Winston-Salem, San Antonio, and in the U.S. Virgin Islands. His resume on and off the court is no less than outstanding, touching millions of lives on the planet ever since he took his first shot down the post. Someday, Timmy will earn his spot at the Basketball Hall of Fame and align himself with some of the greatest NBA bigs of all time.
Tim has until June 24 to inform the San Antonio executives about his future plans. He keeps on saying as long as he's effective, he will continue to play. At age 37, after playing his 17th season in the league, he has proven to the world that he still has what it takes to win a ring. He has one more year left on his contract, but a player option; continuing to wear the black and silver jersey is up to him.
If the basketball gods let us see Timmy play pro ball one last time, then watching him stuff one of his last Statue of Liberty dunks would be nothing short of bittersweet. If not, at least the pleasure of having witnessed perhaps the most fundamentally-sound big man of all time showing us how it's done would suffice.