Tim Duncan turned 39 on Saturday, though you would never know it by his play in the series against the Los Angeles Clippers. In last night's game 5, in which the Spurs took a 3-2 series lead, Duncan scored 21 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, dished out 4 assists, forced 3 steals, and had 1 monumental and timely block. That was his third performance this series in which he scored at least 20 points and grabbed at least 10 rebounds. In doing so he became the oldest player in NBA history to do that in one series. It was also his 162nd post-season double-double, which is the most in postseason history. That's nearly two entire regular seasons of double-doubles. Why then did I count out Tim Duncan years ago?
I admit I was wrong. It certainly wasn't the first time, and it definitely won't be the last. I thought he was "done" around 2011. Duncan averaged "just" 13.4 points and 8.9 rebounds that year, which were both career lows. He was 35, and the Spurs had just been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the second time in three years. I thought Father Time had finally defeated the Wake Forest legend, who at that point was only a four-time NBA champion.
Duncan didn't retire, instead he came back, rested more during the regular season, but averaged 17 points and 9 rebounds in the playoffs as he led the Spurs to the Western Conference Finals. The next year Duncan averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the Spurs would have beaten LeBron James and the ultra-talented Miami Heat had it not been for Ray Allen's miracle three-point shot in game six.
Tim Duncan simply could not retire on that note. Most wouldn't have blamed him, though. He had a great run, but clearly the "team-ball" Spurs could not beat the younger and more talented Miami Heat. That was the narrative, at least. Duncan did come back, and he helped lead the Spurs to the best regular season record, and ultimately beat - you guessed it- the Miami Heat in just five games in the NBA Finals. That entire season for the San Antonio Spurs was about redemption, and they did just that. That victory gave Duncan his fifth NBA championship. At this point, most probably would have gone out. What more could he possibly accomplish? He was a national player of the year in college, two time ACC champion, NBA Rookie of the Year, 14-time NBA all-star, five-time champion, three-time Finals MVP, and two-time regular season MVP. He had an NBA career that exceeds even those of the wildest of boyhood dreams. Yet, he still came back.
The Spurs were a game 82 win at New Orleans from being a two-seed in a loaded Western Conference this season. Duncan made another all-star game, and now thanks to his playoff heroics, the Spurs are up 3 games to 2 over the Clippers and are headed back to San Antonio. The Spurs will not have a home court advantage for any of their remaining series. The Golden State Warriors may be prohibitive favorites to win the West, but I won't be fooled again. I won't get caught betting against Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs. You simply do not make money betting against Tim Duncan.
At this point, would we really be that surprised?
2045 NBA Finals MVP pic.twitter.com/GgUlm812Vt— Sports Comedy (@SportsComedy_) April 29, 2015
Tim Duncan 1. Father Time 0.