Silver and black memories: Duncan’s near quadruple-double
“Silver and black memories? Really Andrew, you guys are hurting for content that much during the lockout?” Yes, yes we are. There’s only so much we can talk about the quotes coming out of the occasional meeting between the players and owners. And since 48 Minutes of Hell didn’t start until 2008, now is as good a time as any to look back at some the San Antonio Spurs’ historic moments that we missed.
There have been four quadruple-doubles in NBA history. Half of them were successfully completed by San Antonio Spurs. One June evening in 2003, there was almost a fifth.
In 2003 Tim Duncan was at the height of his powers. Weeks earlier Duncan was handed his second straight league MVP award and averaged a 23-13-4-3 line in the regular season. His fingerprints were on everything the Spurs did that year and he carried a team Spurs team to the Finals featuring a on-his-way-out David Robinson and early renditions of Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Stephen Jackson.
The Spurs played the New Jersey Nets in the Finals that year, a Nets team that surrounded Jason Kidd with a bunch of athletes (including the beloved Richard Jefferson). Not quite athletes, Jason Collins and Dikembe Mutombo were allowed to play with Kidd also.
Both teams split the first four games and the Spurs took the all-important Game 5 in New Jersey, sending the silver and black home to San Antonio one game away from a second title. This was to be David Robinson riding into the sunset with another championship, and it was — to an extent.
Instead, the notoriously selfish, stat-conscious Tim Duncan stole the Admiral’s moment and delivered the best Finals performance I had ever seen.
Watching clips of Duncan on that night, several things stick out. The first is how much more Duncan handled the ball back then. At this point in his career, Duncan’s dribbles are limited to catching a pass at the top of the key and taking one dribble towards a teammate on the wing and handing the ball off. But back in 2003, Duncan was running pick-and-rolls as the ball handler with Robinson.
On a related note to Duncan’s ball handling — the footwork. Love it. Miss it. Want to bottle it up and sell it to the league’s young big men.
A lot of NBA fans remember this game and the gaudy statline that Duncan put up. One lesser-known fact is that Duncan set the record for blocks in an NBA Finals series. Basically, Duncan was a monster at this time.
I vaguely remember the post-game press conference that night. Someone asked Duncan a question about his box score that night, if he realized that he was two blocked shots away from a quadruple-double.
“No I didn’t,” Duncan said matter-of-factly, “Thatâ’s pretty cool.”
That was it.
It was a mix of honesty and the humbleness we’ve all come to expect, with a bit of not-quite-understanding-the-magnitude-of-his-accomplishment-at-the-time thrown in. Duncan had just won his second NBA title; he had other things on his mind.
But he spared us the clichés of it being a team effort and not being able to do it without his teammates or something of the sort. Nor did he answer the question by not answering it at all. No talking in circles. It was simple and direct, and it’s stuck in my head ever since.
I miss Kevin Willis.
RIP ABC boob cam.