Tim Duncan exemplifies everything the NBA lacks. He hustles, he performs solidly without panache and he never mouths off to officials or the media.
Tim Duncan, as a former MVP and owner of four NBA championship rings, is the anti-superstar. The Question to Iverson’s Answer. The guy who hustles in practice and donates more than necessary to charity.
Tim Duncan is the Eagle Scout of the NBA, the Mother Teresa of basketball. Everyone loves Tim Duncan.
I hate Tim Duncan.
It’s like the Brady Bunch all over again: Marsha, Marsha, Marsha! Timmy, Timmy, Timmy! Enough already.
My hate became clear when Duncan perfectly executed a turnaround lay-in during the first quarter of the All-Star Game. I didn’t care that nobody played defense or cared about winning the game. I loved LeBron “Bron Bron” James and Jason Kidd trying to show off at every opportunity and Yao Ming jacking up hopeless step-back threes. They were having fun, and I was enjoying the basketball equivalent of “trick-shot pool.”
Tim Duncan ruined the party. His methodical workmanlike performance aptly earned him a seat on the bench for much of the All Star Game, and I applaud the Western Conference coaching staff for its decision. Everyone was enjoying basketball without pressure, except Duncan, who just wants to turn in his best performance night-in, night-out.
Tim Duncan needs to take a lesson from the immature kids like Dwight Howard and put on a Superman cape. Or put a cupcake on the rim like Gerald Green. Duncan’s boring style of play perfectly fits the Spurs, who seem to shun the SportsCenter Top Ten countdown. Steve Nash’s Suns play with reckless abandon and don’t value possession. That’s why they’re fun to watch. It might also be why they have never won a championship.
But it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. Every six-year-old basketball player adheres to this principle so he can enjoy the game without preoccupation. Little kids are not troubled with trivial details of the game, like the score. They play for the true pleasures of the game: the half-court shots to snatch victory from defeat, the full-court passes that make someone’s dad scream from the sidelines and the thrill of making fun of the other team after its worst player misses a free throw.
And the Suns don’t worry about the score, either. They play the game the right way.
Tim Duncan plays the wrong way. He plays, as Herm Edwards would say, to win the game. And he succeeds, so good for him. But you can tell that he does not enjoy going to work every day the way LeBron does when he’s stuffing home a reverse jam in Dwight Howard’s face. Or the way Shaq did when he filmed the video making fun of Vlade Divac (to the tune of the song from “Cheers” — find it on youtube). “You said we couldn’t win in your place, guess what? Kobe dunkin’ in yo’ face! You need to go where they know your name!”
Tim Duncan’s quest for success gets in the way of his ability to have fun — and my ability to watch him without dozing off.
I love Allen Iverson’s tantrums when “we talkin’ ’bout practice.” The Association needs players like Latrell Sprewell asking how he is expected to feed his family on his $14.6 million-a-year NBA contract. Because if everyone were like Tim Duncan, there would be no compelling storylines outside of the usual wins and losses that occur on the court. And that’s what generates much of professional basketball’s media coverage. Well, that and the high-flying dunks or Suns games with scores in the 120s. Tim Duncan scares cameras. He could kill the NBA.
He’s a former MVP who has led his team to title after title. So why does he lose lucrative endorsements to less accomplished players? The only product he could sell effectively is sleeping pills. Why doesn’t Tim Duncan star in movies like the mediocre Ricky Davis? Because his game film could be the witch’s poisonous apple that puts Snow White down for the count.
You get it. Tim Duncan isn’t sexy, he isn’t marketable. He is a winner. He is not what the NBA is all about.
Collin Gutman is a sophomore in Pierson College.