DimeMag

Bidding Basketball: Tim Duncan Kicks & New York Knicks T-Shirt

The 2011-12 NBA season is at a standstill, but all is not lost. The union and league are far apart on terms, according to reports, but each day without basketball means a night without a gate, and neither side wants that. They should eventually reach a compromise and play; let’s hope it’s this year. Bidding Basketball is back, though, with an eye towards the Spurs and Knicks, Eastern and Western Conference Champions in the strike-shortened 1998-99 season. Positive vibes heading to the NBA? Hard to say.

Live Auction: adidas SM TS Commander LT Halloween
Buy It Now: $109.99

With all due respect to Ray Allen and deference to Rasheed Wallace, the Tim Duncan adidas TS Commanders are the decade’s best player exclusive sneaker. The Sheed is untouchable, but an anachronism is not fair to weigh an all-time great with real-time sneakers. Allen’s team-specific Jordans are head and shoulders above Mike Bibby‘s purple abominations and remain special. But they’re bland or worse compared to the Duncan skeleton shoe.

Duncan’s sneaker is a hideous black adidas, released in 2009, with a clear Concord Jordan XI-type sole and feet bones drawn above and below the shoe. Those three things make the shoe borderline unwearable, but they also make it a perfect reflection of Duncan.

Duncan, the sure-bet, shoo-in Hall of Famer, is a multiple champion and arguably the best power forward in NBA history. He’s a would-be Olympic swimmer turned galeophobe turned Wooden Award winner turned 1-1 pick. He’s a famously private athlete, though we do know he enjoys Dungeons & Dragons and jousting, and presumably does both in Texas. He has a Merlin tattoo and a haircut that looks like he gets it in the poolhouse once a month and before Lakers games. Despite playing excellent interior defense on a 94-game average over his career, he’s not considered tough.

But his game is tough as a skeleton – bare, fundamentally sound and without wasted movement. That trusty bank shot looks as tough and ugly to a defender as that skull-sole does to anyone outside Medina and Bexar counties. Neither the shot nor the shoe are pretty, but both get it done, and both are Tim Duncan.

Live Auction: RAREST EVER! 1970 vtg NEW YORK KNICKS T SHIRT rayon NBA
Buy It Now: $100

Athletic apparel, much like the Knicks, has seen its better days a generation ago. Both have a proud history, peaking at different times, and both have fallen off. The Knicks were coolest when apparel was good (’80s) and best in the dark ages (’60s-’70s). 1987: Patrick Ewing and Mark Jackson would be on the court, fans would be clad in shirts like these, having paid chump change to show their colors and take everything in.

By the late-’90s, the Knicks were in many ways more successful – actually, every way. They weren’t as aesthetically pleasing – Allan Houston does not win that battle over Jackson – but they won quite often and even reached the Finals. The gear of that era wasn’t as snappy as the ’80s stuff, but an Eastern Conference Champion shirt is plenty pretty, and sells for more out of stores than an evergreen basketball logo.

Still, there was less of more; fans can get whichever shirseys they so desire but they’re getting cheated out of the good stuff. Players like Stephon Marbury and Houston, individuals as unofficial as professional athletes can be, were meant to adorn legions of big-head shirts; they didn’t. Latrell Sprewell should have been on a beach with Taz in front of a cotton sunset. Cherokee Parks, though not a Knicks player, should have had a clothing line by some budget company from North Carolina. Why isn’t there Charles Oakley well-wisher paraphenelia? The only sports clothing with quality these days is vintage. It’s either good or bad news is that the Knicks have farther to go to be good than be cool. Fans have taken one without the other for awhile, and while it’s clear to most which beacon Jim Dolan should steer to, in locked-out times, it’s hard to tell.

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