Tim Duncan Can Become 1st Player Ever to Win Title in 3 Different Decades

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistJune 5, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 31:  Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antono Spurs looks to pass the ball against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first half during Game Six of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 31, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

We already knew Tim Duncan was a rare talent, but the longevity of his legacy has been astounding, and another title would highlight as much.

"Beating the Heat would make Duncan the first player in NBA history to win titles in three different decades, perhaps giving him a bookend to championships in '99, '03, '05 and '07," the Los Angeles TimesBen Bolch explains.

To be fair, there are some who'd argue that Duncan is really the second player to earn the distinction.

The first? Four-time champion John Salley won titles in 1989, 1990, 1996 and 2000.

The divergent views depend on whether you count 2000 as the first year of a new decade. Technically, because Scientific American indicates that there was never a "year zero," the new decade officially began in 2001—which would mean Salley simply came very close to winning a title in a third decade.

Either way, Duncan's postseason accolades are certainly among the most impressive in NBA history.

Spurs Nation's Dan McCarney notes how illustrious a career Duncan has had to this point:

Having never missed the postseason in 17 seasons, and playing on a bunch of damn good teams in the process, he’s earned another impressive distinction by playing in more playoff games (220) than 15 entire franchises, and the same amount as [second-round] opponent Portland.

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SAN ANTONIO - 1999:  Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs kisses one of his trophies in celebration of their championship win circa 1999 at the SBC Center in San Antonio, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading
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Duncan will never be known as the greatest of all time and he certainly hasn't been the most exciting star of his generation, but few can even begin to approach his credentials in terms of sustained and consistent success.

Win or lose in 2014, that will remain the case.

The big question going forward is just how much longer Duncan will stay in the NBA. At the moment, the 38-year-old isn't contemplating retirement. In all likelihood, however, he probably isn't thinking about much of anything except trying to beat the Miami Heat.

Duncan has a player option worth nearly $10.4 million to remain with the Spurs for another season. He doesn't need the money, but should he lose out on another attempt at a fifth ring, he just might have some incentive to stick around.

As good as these Spurs have been over the course of the last three seasons, they don't appear to be going anywhere just yet.

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