Two of the world's greatest basketball players met in those 2007 NBA Finals. One—LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers—was still trying to write his own legacy, while the other—Duncan—was on his way to cement it. Some people believed that this was a ceremonial passing of the torch.
Yet LeBron, also known as “King James," failed to dispose an old but determined Spurs team. The unassuming Duncan put on a clinic in the low post, helping his team win all four games with lesser resistance. They can call LeBron King; however, we knew who the real king was, that year.
Five years later, the 36-year-old center/forward Tim Duncan is on his way to another title run. With all the “Big Threes” and teams beefing up their rosters, the Spurs followed the same system—building around Duncan.
A good structure can never be measured by how tall or how wide it is. It is measured by its foundation. And Duncan has been that sturdy foundation.
Five years, they waited and painstakingly put together all the pieces in the puzzle. There isn’t any team more successful than the Spurs in the NBA for the last ten years.
It must have been Tim Duncan that rubs off the whole team’s identity. Tim doesn’t have any big endorsements or a much bigger fame in the NBA; he could have easily got all of those if he wanted to.
But this is his choice. When everyone talks about their greatness, Tim prefers to sit in a corner and do all his talking on the court. If the team’s best player has humility all over him, it makes everyone around him stay grounded.
Three more wins, and the Spurs will be back into a familiar stage. Tim is already an old warrior, while Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have a few more springs on their legs. This would be the last push for a championship, and standing their way are the Oklahoma City Thunders, who followed the Spurs' blueprint with their own Kevin Durant.
The Thunders destroyed the defending champions Dallas Mavericks, and they only lost once throughout their playoff run against Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers. They seemed to be the more logical team to give the Spurs a real competition.
But, when the going gets tough, Tim Duncan emerges. The old veteran, who weighs about 250 lbs, has his whole team leaning against him.
He knows how to win, and he knows what it takes to get there.
And there won’t be any passing of the torch.
The Spurs can actually win it all the way this time.