Tim Duncan: The Most Underrated Player in NBA History

Tim DohertyAnalyst INovember 3, 2011

Tim Duncan's best days of basketball are behind him. The star power forward, who is now 35 years old, no longer possesses the athleticism and physical skills he once had.

Watching Duncan's steady decline the past few seasons has been disheartening. Duncan's drop off has not been sad because the aging star has turned into a shell of his former self. It's sad because you remember just how good Duncan used to be, and you realize he never received the praise and recognition he deserved.

When Shaquille O'Neal officially retired in June, ESPN showed clips of his greatest moments, funniest press conferences, and even aired an extravagant retirement ceremony at O'Neal's home.

Throughout his career, Shaq was known for his charisma and mammoth size, as well as his excellent play. His charisma especially, separates him from a player like Duncan who had a similar if not better career, but didn't have the national fanfare.

Many NBA fans believe Shaq was a better player than Duncan. This has a lot to do with Shaq's national popularity and on the court flare, something Duncan never possessed.

Both players won four NBA titles, and were both named finals MVP three times. However, for all four of Shaq's titles he was playing with a future Hall of Famer. Kobe Bryant helped Shaq win three titles in LA, and Dwayne Wade carried Shaq and the Heat during their title run in '06.

The only Hall of Famer Duncan played with was David Robinson. Robinson played with Duncan on two championship teams, but was well past his prime on both occasions.

Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are good players who won championships with Duncan, but neither of them are near the player Kobe Bryant or Dwayne Wade is.

In his prime Duncan had unstoppable low post moves and was one of the league's best defenders. His resume includes two regular season MVP awards (one more than Shaq), 13 All-Star Game appearances, Nine All-NBA first team selections, and eight All-Defensive first team selections (Shaq had none).

The most impressive thing about Duncan's prime was his incredible consistency. Duncan averaged at least 20 points and 11 rebounds per game during his first eight NBA seasons. For 12 straight seasons he averaged at least 19 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Duncan should also be remembered as one of the best playoff performers in league history. Duncan had a knack for carrying his team when they needed it most. In the playoffs, Duncan has career averages of 23 points and 12 rebounds per game.

Unfortunately for Duncan, when fans think of clutch performers they think of players like Jordan, Kobe, and Shaq, not just because of their excellent play in big moments, but also because of their theatrics and the passion they display.

Tim Duncan is undoubtedly one of the best players in NBA history. It's a shame that his lack of flare and charisma will tarnish his ultimate legacy.


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