Tim Duncan isn't going to put on a show with flashy dunks or a display of sheer power. You won't find a plethora of YouTube clips highlighting his wacky, sometimes controversial antics. And you definitely won't find him making rap albums in his spare time.
For 15 seasons, Duncan has quietly gone about his business, winning four championships along with three finals and two league MVP trophies. That doesn't even cover half of the long-list of accomplishments credited to his name.
Yet, if he's not in the thick of a playoff run, it seems like a lot of people forget Duncan's name.
Perhaps this is due to his soft-spoken, humble personality. Unlike Shaq, Duncan is not a boisterous personality that spends a lot of time talking to the media. When he's not on the court, he keeps to himself.
Maybe it's also because most people classify Duncan as a forward. I simply call him a big man. He's spent his career working on the low-block. I see no reason why he can't be lumped in with centers like Shaq and Kareem instead of guys like Charles Barkley who made their living in other ways.
Either way, most lists you see still have Shaq ahead of Duncan as far as great big men go.
Shaq's personality and style of play kept him at the center of attention for years. Duncan, who might be the most fundamentally sound big man in the game's history, has amassed his spectacular career under the radar.
Shaq was a more physically dominant player, no question about it. On the other hand, Duncan killed defenders with precision and fundamentals. It's not a sexy style of basketball. He doesn't tear down rims or knock guys over—he just picks them apart.
Some people would call Duncan's style boring. I call it beautiful.
Take a look at the numbers. Even if you take away Shaq's final seasons in Cleveland and Boston, the numbers still remain surprisingly even. For someone as dominant as Shaq was for a good stretch of time, that's remarkable in my opinion. It shows the steady consistency of Duncan and reminds us why Barkley gave him the "Groundhog Day" nickname.
The argument is close, but should the San Antonio Spurs win a title this season, the argument becomes a no-brainer.
Tim Duncan is a rare phenomenon. In a time when big men are taken in the draft for their power and athleticism, he's a breath of fresh air. He reminds us that you don't have to be an athletic freak or spend countless hours hitting the weights to dominate an NBA game.
Sometimes it's the little fundamentals that matter most. Duncan is living proof of that. The league would benefit from having more players like him.
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