I’m a basketball nut. I love reading anything -– books, articles, commentary – about the sport. But you already knew that.
What you didn’t know was how I got into it in the first place. Yes, Michael Jordon was amazing. The Bulls-Jazz playoff series in which Jordan hit “The Shot” was my first full immersive hoops experience. And as the years went by, my love for the sport continued to grow.
I loved Rasheed Wallace and the ‘Jailblazers’ era. C-Webb and Vlade Divac floored me with the beautiful passing game. LeBron James made me excited about basketball at a time where it seemed headed for the doldrums. And when I couldn’t latch onto a team or player, there was always the big market Celtics and Lakers to root against. But, above all, there was only one man that kept me glued like no other. One man that made my love for the sport manifest into an incessant fixation. One man that inspired me.
That man is Tim Duncan.
I could write 100,000 words expressing my love and admiration for the guy, but now is not that time. His team is clinging on to shattered hopes; I’m clinging on to them. I don’t ever want to let go, not for the world. If I had a choice to save lives from a burning wreckage or cling on to their fading glory, I would still cling on to them. Sad, but true.
I’ll watch them fade into painful irrelevance, because I have no choice. Because this is my team. Because there’s nothing else I’d rather do. They’ve been with me in my childhood, youth and formative years; and they’ll stay with me till the wheels come off.
They are my life, heart and soul. He is my life, heart and soul.
I chanced upon an ESPN (!) article that was actually about appreciating Tim Duncan. No, it wasn’t about how the Spurs dynasty was ending, or how Tim Duncan was never going to get his fifth ring. It was a good, if sentimental, piece about the underappreciated excellence of the Greatest Power Forward Of All Time.
LZ Granderson’s kind words were uplifting at a time where there is only doom and gloom for the Spurs Nation. But the fact that an article like this is being published on a site like ESPN just seems to confirm the inevitable: The Spurs are dead. Tim Duncan is not going to get one for the thumb.
It was a eulogy before the eulogy.
And yet, I found this gem about Mr. Fundamental, in the comments section no less.
We always say there will never be a Player X, but there truly will never be another Tim Duncan. As the game becomes even more athletic and drifts further out to the wing, as highlights become even more popular, I can’t imagine another player coming along who does it like the Big Fundamental did it.
That, coming from a Lakers fan. Of course, you’d question that perhaps he gave such a glowing assessment only because he’s, if anything, relieved that the Spurs won’t be a major threat to his team anymore. You’d question whether he would be as generous with his words if his Lakers were on the brink of elimination and not the other way around. Lastly, for every respectful netizen, you’d point to the thousands of other spiteful trolls who would continue to lambast this “boring old man” before and after him.
But, on this day, I’d rather not.