There are few things on the basketball court that look the same in an NBA game as they do in most high school gymnasiums. You could easily go one-step further and assume that there is practically nothing that looks the same between an NBA legend and you or I playing in the park on Saturdays. Tim Duncan reminds us that basketball at any level is still basketball.
It never happens in the NBA, so it has to be mentioned as one of the bigger accomplishments in his career. Being drafted and spending an entire career with one team is nothing short of amazing in today’s NBA. Winning a title so early in his career and establishing himself as a Hall of Fame caliber player certainly made the San Antonio Spur’s decision easy to make. But, credit must be given to both San Antonio and Tim Duncan; neither side ever looked to take advantage of the other. Both sides have titles and both sides have millions. Obviously, there is still time for the Spurs to decide to move Duncan, but just the simple act of me writing this sentence caused a bolt of lightning to hit my backyard. So I’m guessing that won’t happen.
I want to give the bank shot its own section. For now, let’s talk about the rest of his game. Duncan cannot jump higher than everybody. He cannot overpower everybody. He certainly isn’t quicker than everybody. He simply uses one of the same rules most were taught in high school. Keep the body between the ball and defender. Around the post, Duncan has a wide variety of options… the contact and fade away floater, and the drive across the paint baby hook. His body always separates ball and defender. He does have one move that I particularly enjoy where he drives straight at the man guarding him and either forces a foul or him to lean back awkwardly, having no chance of contesting the shot. Again, it’s amazing to watch because the greatest power forward of all-time (sorry to anyone who thinks Duncan is a Center… I’m in the Power Forward camp) is doing exactly what your high school coach told you to do.
There are other big men out there who can claim a better outside game than Duncan. However, most cannot claim a spot on the court where they simply don’t miss. If you can picture it, I bet you know exactly where they are… top of the key, just to the right and left of the circle about 20-feet off the rim. This past year he was so automatic he didn’t even bother putting arc on the shot, and it still went in. The other shot you no doubt had in your head was his bank shot.
The Bank Shot:
Just soak it in for a few minutes. Last week, I mentioned Dirk‘s fade-away and Kareem‘s skyhook. Duncan’s bank shot will stand the test of time. Every bank shot that happens in every basketball game in the world gets a Tim Duncan reference. If you bank by accident, you get a Tim Duncan joke. The amazement is not just the consistency, but also the distance from the basket. He pulls the trigger on the bank shot and sometimes he’s only a few feet in front of the three point line. Clearly, Duncan has put a lifetime of basketball into that shot. Think back to some of your favorite players over past decades, different positions and different styles. One thing consistent comes to mind… a quality NBA player HOPES his shot is going in, an NBA legend KNOWS his shot is going in. Duncan knows that bank shot is going in.
At this point, Tim Duncan is sitting on 4 NBA Titles with 5 trips to the finals. Even after a 16-year career, he still holds career averages of 20 points and 11 boards (and over 50% from the field). He is currently sitting on fifteen consecutive seasons of making the playoffs (the slacker missed the post season in 99-00) and 14 all-star nods, 2 MVPs, 3 Finals MVPs and the best player/ref relationship out there. When he is finally ready to retire, Tim Duncan will only be debated as to where he belongs in the top-10 of all-time.
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