If we are to rank overlooked NBA greats in tiers, San Antonio Spurs legend Tim Duncan would definitely be somewhere at the top. Many are aware that he’s a five-time NBA champion and literally “simply” one of the greatest players of all time. But contrary to how many remember Timmy, which is often the quiet, boring, and humble All-Star, there was more to his greatness than just being a master of fundamental basketball.
It’s a little bit of everything
Duncan’s wide array of accomplishments as a player speaks for itself. Yet, only a few true hoops fans put him on the same footing as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James, and other celebrated once-in-a-generation players. Timmy’s relatively quiet personality may have played a role in it because, unlike other NBA superstars, “The Big Fundamental” never boasts.
But apparently, Duncan’s greatness and legacy resemble that of the usual candidates in the so-called NBA GOAT debate. We just seldom hear it from the man himself.
“It’s all a combination of a competitiveness on my own part, a love for playing the game, hating losing and an organization [like the Spurs] committed to putting the best things in place to give a city, a team, a player like myself an opportunity to win year in and year out,” Duncan told NBA.com of his greatness and legacy.
Why Timmy is different
Delving into how Duncan went down in history, we could say that his remarkable humility may have resulted in his apparent lack of charisma, given the NBA superstar he was. But according to Spurs head coach Greg Popovich, who had witnessed Timmy’s greatness firsthand, that constant humility is what he considers, above all the accolades, “the most important” part of his pupil’s legacy.
“The most important comment I can make about TD is that I can honestly say, to Mr. and Mrs. Duncan, who have passed, is that man right there is exactly the same person now as he was when he walked in the door,” Popovich once declared.
Indeed, the NBA is the platform for the best basketball skill sets. It has been housing hoopers who were a cut above the rest. But what Duncan proved to all of us was that on basketball’s biggest stage, you don’t always have to be the flashiest and most athletic player on the court. As long as you have what it takes to win, drizzled with a consistent bank shot game and overwhelming humility, you’ll be good.