Not a storied ending, but room for Duncan’s story nonetheless
Tonight Tim Duncan will start his 12th consecutive All-Star game, 13th overall, andÂ first official start at center. How his presence should be questionable in an event that originally named an injured Yao Ming to this spot is beyond me.
Among his All-Star peers Duncan has the least impressive statistics but perhaps the most impressive resume. And like San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, I believe his presence in the starting lineup is completely justified.
â€œI think itâ€™s totally appropriate, and obvious he should be the starter,â€ Popovich said (via the Express-News). â€œI donâ€™t have any problem with it.â€
Popovichâ€™s stance might be unpopular everywhere outside of San Antonioâ€”most would argue the Lakers Pau Gasol to be the appropriate choiceâ€”but like so many of his past decisions, itâ€™s the right one.
Thanks to outlets like the TrueHoop Network, there has never been a time in which such a great influx of writing talent graced the basketball world. Itâ€™s almost equivalent to the flood of foreign players expanding the NBA talent pool. But as we advanceâ€”taking how we view basketball to new heights through advanced analytics and positional revolutions, among other theoriesâ€”sometimes we lose sight of the point.
With so many talented writers on hand to analyze this game sometimes we forget to simply tell a story. In a genre that attempts to look at a game through rational eyes, sometimes we forget that there is room for stories in basketball.Â
Context and circumstance should never stray too far from our arguments. Is Derrick Rose the best player in the NBA? No. He might not even be the best point guard. But he should have been the leading MVP candidate long before he dropped a career night on the Spurs in front of a national audience just for what he has done in Chicago, lifting them to elite status despite injuries to prominent players and starting next to Keith Bogans.
In either of Steve Nash’s MVP seasons, he was far from the best player in the world. But at least one of those is legitimate. Still, those that voted for him are accused of getting caught up in his story like it’s a bad thing.
And Duncan starting in an All-Star game is never a bad thing. Especially when a good story can be supported by sound statistics and, more importantly, wins.
Individually, there are several players not partaking in this weekend’s festivities that have had more accomplished seasons from a statistical standpoint. But again, context and circumstance. This is Tim Duncan we are talking about, and in a showcase event like the All-Star game it’s not a lazy argument to simply point this out.
What the San Antonio Spurs have done this season, and what Duncan has been willing to do to achieve it, should be noted and rewarded.
Because Duncan is still more relevant than what his box scores show. Over at The Point Forward, Zach Lowe spent a good part of media day near Tim Duncan, revealing an interesting quote.
Duncan looked up: â€œOh. This is my swan song?â€ It was a joke laced with pride. Duncan clearly does not think of himself as some sort of role player in decline. Earlier in the session, he said this: â€œI can double-double any time. I can get 20 and 10 just about any time I want.â€
This isn’t Gilbert Arenas talking. An egotistical Duncan that demanded the respect (and touches) he has earned could probably still put up his usual 20 and 10.Â But they wouldn’t be winning numbers and this Spurs team would not be going anywhere.
It was Popovich who asked Duncan to step aside for the good of the team, and in doing so a quote Pop gave to the Express-NewsÂ on Manu Ginobili could just as easily be applied to Duncan tonight:
â€œHeâ€™s done his duty long enough and done what Iâ€™ve asked him to do because I thought it was best for the team,â€ Popovich said. â€œMaybe I was right, maybe I was wrong. It doesnâ€™t matter. But at this point in his career, I thought he deserved to be a starter for no other reason than to be a starter.
â€œHeâ€™s a great player, one of the best in the world, and thatâ€™s why I did it. Just to show him respect.â€
This is not a swan song. But it is a celebration. And on a weekend when point guards jump through hoops and giants jump over cars, there is room to honor Duncan’s career and the season the Spurs are having this season.