Tim Duncan isn’t done.
At times, it seems the quiet giant is drawing his stellar career to a close. But not right now.
Oh, sure, the window is closing fast. Their playoff exits the last few years leave fans wondering when the run of the original Big Three — Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginóbili — will draw to a close. The emergence of Oklahoma City as the new power in the West does not help matters, either.
With Russell Westbrook sidelined, though, it opened up a window. First, the Memphis Grizzlies shattered it by defeating Westbrook’s Thunder, despite the best efforts of Kevin Durant.
And now it is the Spurs’ time to climb through as well. Despite an aging core, the Spurs have had the best record in the Western Conference two of the last three years. This is still one of the best teams in the NBA, even if it is a forgotten one.
Tim Duncan is not making proclamations about winning multiple NBA titles. And San Antonio is not South Beach.
There is nothing sexy about San Antonio — not even Ginóbili’s bald spot.
Still, here the Spurs are again with another chance to win the NBA championship.
Yes, the Miami Heat may prove to be as unbeatable as everyone thinks they are. But the Spurs match up well against the Heat. Duncan and Tiago Splitter are more than Chris Bosh can handle. Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers shouldn’t be able to stop Tony Parker.
Of course, no one can equal the two best players in the NBA, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, but with Kawhi Leonard and Ginóbili, they can at least slow them down.
That’s if the Spurs even get to the NBA finals.
First they have to beat Memphis, which like the Thunder is one of the up and coming teams in the NBA behind Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley.
San Antonio has seen these Grizzles before, though. The two teams met in the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs, a mere two years ago.
The outcome, seemed to be one of those moments that foretold the end of Duncan’s career.
The Spurs finished 61-21 in 2011 and were the No.1 seed in the Western Conference. Memphis was the No. 8 seed. And it should have been easy.
Duncan had one of the worst playoff series of his career and San Antonio struggled.
The Spurs, won Games 2 and 5, but lost Game 6 99–91 and lost the series 4–2, becoming the fourth No. 1 seed to be upset by the No. 8 seed.
But this will not be history repeating itself.
And Duncan has the Spurs front office to thank for that. Smart draft picks have given the Spurs new life as Ginóbili reaches 35, Parker 31 and Duncan 37.
Tiago Splitter, drafted in 2007 but who did not play in the NBA until 2010, has become a force inside — the best big man to play next to Duncan since David Robinson. And it has allowed Duncan to thrive. Especially since he has 2011 draft pick the 21-year-old Leonard, hitting shots on the wing and down low when needed.
The core may be old, but the Spurs are not.
The oldest team in the NBA is actually the New York Knicks.
The Spurs? They are not even in the top five. With an average age of 27.9 years they are tied for seventh with the Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls.
So all that talk of retirement and being too old can be shelved for at least one more season.
These Spurs are not quite done yet.