It’s hard to process Tim Duncan’s retirement. He’s become so ingrained in the public consciousness of basketball fans, there’s really nothing these pair of DIME scribes could do but exchange some emails that got really personal and also kind of annoying when the announcement finally came through.
That annoyance probably needs some explanation. Both of these basketball editors think Duncan is severely underrated when people talk about the NBA at the turn of the millennium. In discussions about all-time players, he’s getting passed over for Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal on that three-peat juggernaut in Los Angeles to begin the millennium.
These writers think Duncan’s career oeuvre speaks for itself. It has to because Tim Duncan certainly isn’t. He’s not even going to be at today’s press conference to announce his retirement; it’s perhaps the most Tim Duncan thing ever, that’s how synonymous with the understated he’s become.
So, here’s what they came up with. It’s part catharsis, part rambling diatribe about the media and Basketball Twitter; part essay on the greatness of a top-10 player of all time. It’s what you get when two Tim Duncan fans are suddenly thrust into the thankless position of writing about the end of a career that never seemed like it was going to end. Until it did.
I used to hate Tim Duncan. That was stupid, obviously. Not just because loathing a professional athlete is dumb all by itself, but because disliking a player of the utmost caliber and professional esteem just doesn’t make any sense.
For the duration of his splendid 19-year career, Timmy was everything right about the NBA. He was from another time, when players ran from the on- and off-court spotlight and dominated their positions in the truest form of guards, power forwards, and centers – which actually might be why an adolescent me disliked him so much.
Kevin Garnett was my favorite player. A shape-shifting seven-footer who could initiate offense from the perimeter, sink turnaround after turnaround from the post, and wreak havoc across the floor defensively while making Gary Payton’s trash talk look tame? KG was the superstar for the modern game, standing in diametric opposition to Duncan in terms of playing style and mentality. It didn’t help that the Spurs beat the Timberwolves in the playoffs two out of three years surrounding the new millennium, either.