Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Why Duncan doesn't fit with the Spurs like Bird does the Celtics and Jordan the Bulls

I've been thinking a lot lately about why I have no interest in the NBA.

Zip. I'd rather go clay pigeon shooting.

I realize I'm not indicative of an entire fan base, but it's no secret the NBA's popularity has waned this decade.

Amid image problems, scandal and the Shaq-Kobe melodrama has existed a lack of compelling basketball.

The NBA has had its moments. Lakers-Pistons 1 was good. The 2007-08 Celts were a good story. But everything in between has been a slow-moving haze created by the league's most neutral-colored team and its neutrally emotional franchise player.

I don't think it's too early to proclaim that Tim Duncan has been bad for the NBA. Not so much because he's not your typical superstar, but more because he's prevented other "superstars" from fulfilling their traditional roles.

Think about it.

I'm no historian, but has there ever been a league so full of "superstars" who haven't won a championship?

LeBron James. Carmelo Anthony. Tracy McGrady. Kobe Bryant (you know what I mean). Dwight Howard. Steve Nash and Amare Stoudamire. Dirk Nowitzki. I could name more.

In pro sports, compelling storylines come from late-postseason duels. No matter how fun some of those Suns-Lakers series were, after a year or two they meant nothing because neither team went on to win the title.

Bird's Celtics were able to win the decade-long series against Magic's Lakers. Jordan's Bulls were always one step (or small shove) ahead of Stockton and Malone's Jazz.

Great basketball. Great rivalry. Great TV.

Now you look at Duncan and can proclaim that his Spurs were, well... screw you, Duncan.

The Spurs hang over the NBA like a black and silver cloud. Right now, how many people out of 100 would bet on the Lakers over the Spurs to represent the West in the Finals?

How many of those who couldn't take the bet cussed under their breath upon coming to that conclusion?

In 10 or 20 years, people will look back on the 2000s NBA and remember a few things. The brawl at the Palace. Dwyane Wade's 2006 Finals performance. Shaq (and Kobe).

Many won't remember Duncan and the Spurs - at least not how they remember Bird and the Celtics or Jordan and the Bulls.

Not because they shouldn't, but because they choose not to.

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