All-NBA selections. Check. NBA All-Star. Check. NBA's Most Valuable Player. Check. Champion. Check.
Tim Duncan has accomplished everything there is to accomplish in his illustrious 12 year career. At the time of this article, including playoffs, he's played 40,755 minutes, scored 23,708 points and collected 12,975 rebounds, all in a Silver and Black jersey.
Obviously these numbers have increased but there's no argument that Duncan has given all his blood, sweat and tears to the franchise. But, as the saying goes, all great things must come to an end, and soon the Duncan era will come to an end.
So how will the Duncan era end? Will it end like the Robinson era? Hoisting the Larry O'Bryant trophy in the sky, showers of confetti raining down on the court. At that time, no Spur had meant more to San Antonio then David. Because of him, two things come to mind when you think of San Antonio: the Alamo and the Spurs. It was incredibly emotional to see David in his last moments as a Spur. I'd wouldn't be honest if I said I didn't cry. I think most of us did. How could you not? To see the Admiral go out on top, the person I most admired growing up, my hero, was an unforgettable moment in my life.
But will Duncan and his four championships simply ride off into the sunset headed for Springfield? He's still averaging a double-double with 19 points and 10.8 rebounds a game. And at 33-years-old, Duncan is still schooling younger players. But the Spurs are struggling, and with players like Dwight Howard, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony playing the best basketball of their careers, not to mention the Lakers and Mavericks adding pieces to their rosters that will keep them in contention for years, it seems Duncan might not make it back to the promise land.
The Spurs have shown they are willing to do what is necessary to surround Duncan with pieces he needs to get another title by acquiring Richard Jefferson and his 29.4 million dollar contract. Even though the acquisition of Jefferson hasn't panned out like we anticipated, the move by R.C. Buford shows the Spurs believe Duncan still has enough left in the tank to bring one more chip to the Alamo City.
However, taking on Jefferson's huge contract has made it seemingly difficult to sign an All-Star caliber big man that can take the torch from Duncan and carry the Spurs into the future. But Buford and the Spurs front office are one of the best in the league. So if this season doesn't end with a parade, don't count out next season.
Buford is one of the great General Managers in the NBA. He is unafraid of taking risks and understands that Duncan is still and an elite player and in the playoffs can still put up daunting statistics. Buford's mind, like rims on an Escalade, are constantly spinning. If he can surround Duncan with the right players, then Duncan could possibly get that fifth title.
The problem is that Duncan is 33. Five years ago, any player would have taken a pay cut to come play with the great Tim Duncan and win a championship. Is there still appeal to come play for an aging superstar? Especially when he plays in one of the smallest markets in the Association. I don't remember players lining up to play with Micheal Jordan when he was in Washington.
When the Duncan era ends, it truly will be the end of an era. When Duncan goes so will Popovich, and the future of Manu is still uncertain. Parker will still be in the prime of his career when his contract expires in 2011. If the Spurs aren't contenders, don't be surprised if he goes elsewhere and tries to win a ring.
I think the Mayans were predicting about the Spurs when they came up with their 2012 end of the world prophecy.
And that's exactly how it's going to feel. It's going to feel like the end of the world once Duncan is gone throughout Spurs nation. When he goes, so will the 50 plus win seasons, the excitement of the playoffs and the belief that any season could be our season.
How do I think the Duncan era will end? As much as it hurts me to say this, I don't think Duncan will get another ring. I believe he can win another ring, but don't think it's going to happen.
On a trip to San Antonio this past week, my father told me that attendance has dipped at Spurs games this season. Could be the current state of the economy in general or because of how poorly they have been playing. But what about those seasons when we win only 30 games, even 20? Are you going to still wear your Spurs gear? Keep the emblem on your car? Keep going to games? I will. And I'll love every second of it. Because the Spurs are more then numbers in the win and loss columns. Like they've been there for us, we'll need to be there for them.
I urge you, please. Please go to these games. We are blessed to have one of the All-Time greats playing in our own backyard. Please take your children, or your grandchildren, so they can say they were able to see Timmy. If you have the opportunity to go see him play, go. If tickets are five dollars, scrape some change up from your couch or car and hit the coin-star machine. If you can't pay for parking, take the park and ride, but please, be there. Soon he'll be gone, and all we'll have left are our pictures, screen print jerseys and trading cards, but even those won't last forever. So take every chance you have to see Tim Duncan play. Because when his era ends, and all that's left is the banners hanging in the rafters, you'll want to be able to say you saw him. And memories, it's the memories that will last a lifetime.