At this point, it seems the only thing more consistent than Tim Duncan’s Hall of Fame play is the rate at which he continues to leave league legends in the all-time dust.
Duncan’s latest feat: moving into fifth on the NBA’s playoff scoring list:
It must be mentioned that Duncan passed Karl Malone, a guy who played the same position and won zero championships, and was recently mocked in an Adidas commercial starring Damian Lillard.
Can we just take a second to feel really, really bad for Karl Malone?
Duncan’s leapfrogging bucket came in the first half of the San Antonio Spurs’ convincing 118-103 win in Game 3 of their Western Conference Semifinal matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night—a series the Spurs now lead 3-0.
While Duncan and company were riding high off their first-half blitz, Portland head coach Terry Stotts was, how do you say, slightly more cynical in his outlook:
Duncan finished with a ho-hum 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists in 40 minutes.
With nearly 500 points between him and Shaquille O’Neal, it’s unclear whether Duncan—who turned 38 on April 25—has either the franchise fortune or physical wherewithal to continue his push up the postseason-scoring mountain.
Even if he winds up where he already is, though…that’s a pretty good starting five—even if Timmy’s somehow left playing small forward.
Recently, Bleacher Report’s D.J. Foster took to pinpointing precisely what it is that makes Duncan’s longevity so special:
There are differences between rookie Duncan and 37-year-old Duncan, but they aren't as pronounced as the changes in contemporaries like Kevin Garnett, for example. That's because, rather fittingly, Duncan has had a simple counter for every opponent he's come across, and that includes Father Time.
Duncan's body has slowed, but his mind has quickened. He's less explosive, but he has a softer shooting touch. Every tool that could be sharpened has been sharpened, essentially.
Every tool including, it seems, a pickaxe—the kind one needs when scaling every statistical mountain known to basketball.
The Spurs will have a chance to close out the series and make their third consecutive conference finals appearance on Wednesday. Portland, meanwhile, has had few answers for San Antonio’s attack—least of all for point guard Tony Parker.
It might be Parker’s playoffs, but as Saturday’s superlative leap once again proved, San Antonio was, is and will always be the Big Fundamental’s franchise.