San Antonio Spurs: Is It the Beginning of the End for Forward Tim Duncan?

Denise CharlesContributor IIIFebruary 11, 2011

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 24:  Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs stands for the National Anthem before their game against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on January 24, 2011 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Tim Duncan, a player whose name has been thrown around more often then usual this season and, in some cases, it's for reasons other than his talent on the court. 

At the age of 34, with 13 years of experience, people are beginning to think it’s the beginning of the end for the San Antonio Spurs’ Forward. 

But in all honesty, who can be certain for when the end of an athlete is near or not?

Not too long ago, when the Spurs played the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center, Duncan played 33 minutes—which is higher than this season’s average of 29 minutes—in which the Spurs only won by a tip-in at the buzzer. 

In turn, a few games ago Duncan was only needed for 13 minutes against the Sacramento Kings—a game in which the Spurs would shut it down with a 13-point win over the Kings. 

Is it safe to say (from the Spurs’ recent win over the Kings) that Tim Duncan is no longer needed? No, it’s not—not with all the time and effort he put in against the Lakers just nights before.  

If anything, it’s clearer that he is still an essential asset to the team.

So, where exactly are all the rumors and questions coming from? On what are people basing their concerns?

Do people think he’s had his run—that 13 years and four championships—is enough? Do they think that at 34 years old, he should be ready to leave the sport? Is the fact that he’s getting less court time the result of his age at such a fast paced sport?

Age should never be a factor if the player still has love for the game and dominance on the court. Kobe Bryant’s, 32, has 14 years of experience; Kobe’s teammate, Derek Fisher, 36, has 14 years of experience; Boston Celtic’s Ray Allen, 35, has 14 years of experience; his teammate Kevin Garnett, 34, has 15 years of experience. 

The oldest of the bunch, Shaquille O’Neal, 38, has 18 years of experience. 

With the exception of Shaq—who seems to be managing about 15 minutes or less for each game—all the others are managing 20-35 minutes per game.

What’s to say age has anything to do with the time anyone sees on the court?

Yes, his court performance is a little less than average, but that should mostly be blamed on all the bench time he’s getting, as well. Coach Gregg Popovich has already stated that he’s seeing less of the court because he wants to rest him for the playoffs—and if the close game against the Lakers and Dallas Mavericks mean anything, then they are going to need him to be well rested and without injury for those crucial games. 

In a career where age and body fitness means everything, there are so many people that are confident that Tim Duncan still has a few years left in him, despite his age. He is still a huge contributor to the Spurs and it’s fair to say they wouldn’t have made it this far into the season with such a spotlight if he weren’t around. 

So is this the beginning of the end for Duncan? Yes, in terms of the end of their season that is. 

They are beginning to rest him more and more as the end of the season draws closer—it’s like the Spurs and Duncan have their mind set on one thing: a fifth championship.