Playing against the NBA 2K17 MT
Playing against the younger, springier Ibaka, Duncan drew a foul and made a free throw. He drop-stepped Ibaka on the block for two more. He grabbed a defensive rebound (!) with the Spurs down one, then drew another foul on Ibaka with 1:23 left, and made two free throws to put San Antonio ahead. He rebounded Westbrook’s miss at the other end. Still up one with 30 seconds left, the Spurs caught OKC in a mismatch, with Jackson switched on Duncan — who turned over his right shoulder for the series-clinching bucket.
He played 39 minutes, and finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds, on a 38-year-old knee. But he’d willed the Spurs back to The Finals, and a rematch with the Heat.
“You know what, it’s unbelievable to regain that focus, after — exactly — that devastating loss we had last year,” he told me in the postgame interview. “But we’re back here, and we’re excited about it. We have four more to win, and we’re going to do NBA 2K17 MT this time.”
And, they did.
All of the above — the elation, the frustration, the will, the mental toughness, the competitiveness, the leadership, the silence, all of it — is why Tim Duncan is the greatest power forward to ever play the game.
Duncan’s retirement last Monday, at age 40, was not a surprise. He had played several seasons effectively despite having problems with his left knee, finding a brace that gave him support and mobility. But this past season, his right knee started acting up, too. Never blessed with great verticals, Duncan had almost no lift at all by the time the playoffs came around. Even though the Spurs won a franchise-record 67 regular season games, they were run over by the Thunder in six games in the Western Conference semifinals.