What does Duncan have left to prove?
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
SAN ANTONIO — David Robinson saw this kind of greatness coming from Tim Duncan long before it happened.
“The Big Fundamental,” as Duncan would eventually be nicknamed by contemporary Shaquille O’Neal, was entering his senior season at Wake Forest in the summer of 1996 when he faced his future teammate for the first time.
“We played against them when I was playing on the Olympic team,” Robinson told USA TODAY Sports. “He played against me, Hakeem (Olajuwon) and Shaq. He was so smooth, and he had 22 points — made it look easy against us. I kind of thought at that time, ‘This kid’s a little bit better than I think.’ When he came to San Antonio, right away I could see he’s going to be one of the great ones.”
Duncan has long-since sealed his reputation as one of the greatest players of all time. But as he attempts to win a fifth championship in these NBA Finals against the Miami Heat, his legacy is on the verge of growing yet again.
A fifth ring would tie him with the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, with quite a debate to be had about whose path to sustained prominence was more impressive and who should be remembered as the best player of their time. The discussion over the best big men to ever play would have a new wrinkle, too, as another championship would give Duncan more titles than O’Neal and Robert Parish (four apiece), get him closer to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and create even more distance between him and Kevin McHale (three) and Wilt Chamberlain (two).
“If he gets the fifth, he’s going to be the best power forward that ever played in my book because then he passes McHale,” Lakers great and five-time champion Magic Johnson said. “It’s not just his winning five, but it’s how he (would have) won five. It’s the way he played the game, how he approached the game.
“With this fifth one, he dominates his generation. Him and Kobe would be the greatest winners during this time. In terms of domination-wise, he’d … [For more on What does Tim Duncan have left to prove in NBA Finals?, click here.]