Pete Garcia, The Sports Guy
LeBron. LeBron, LeBron. Seriously, if it wasn't for LeBron James, you might think there isn't a bonafied superstar - a true NBA legend - in these NBA Finals.
But there is and it isn't LeBron. Instead, it's San Antonio's Tim Duncan.
Yep… our very own Timmy, just two hours up the road. There's a reason LeBron has pumped himself up for this series with a photo hanging over his locker of himself dunking over Duncan. It isn't to prove that he can dunk on the Spurs' big man. In this league of freakish vertical leaping, pretty much anyone can dunk on anyone. It's really a matter of timing and positioning.
But only a very, very select few - and this short list doesn't include James just yet - can do what Tim Duncan has done consistently over the last 10 years with San Antonio.
In the 85-76 win in Game 1 Thursday night, it was Tony Parker who lead San Antonio in scoring with 27 points, but Duncan was right there too with a typical playoff performance for him - 24 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. And you see, that's what makes Duncan the "Big Fundamental." And he's been doing it since he entered the league.
Sprite commercials are cool, but have yet to yield a single victory in the NBA. It's even less useful in the playoffs where if you're going to have a legacy in this league, you have to turn it on. LeBron's done that from time to time, like when his Cavaliers knocked off the Detroit Pistons. However, he has yet to become a constant. In Game 1, LeBron had only 14 points and failed to provide the kind of spark and push the Cavaliers needed over the Spurs that night.
Duncan is different. Through his career, Duncan has averaged 22.1 points, 12 rebounds, 2.48 blocks a game. In the last 30 years of the NBA, only league greats Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'Neal and David Robinson had averaged at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks a game.
Duncan is also one of only 10 in league history to have won multiple NBA MVP awards.
In the playoffs, Duncan's been even more consistent. On the league's active NBA career playoff leaders' list, Duncan is third in scoring with 2,838 points. He trails only O'Neal and Kobe Bryant in scoring.
He's second in rebounds and blocks.
And it's because of Duncan that the Spurs have been so dominant since he entered the league. Over the last 10 years, San Antonio has the best record in the NBA. The Spurs are also the winningest franchise of any of the major professional sports in the U.S. with a winning percentage of .710.
Before he checks out of his final NBA game, LeBron's going to be one of the best of all-time. He's gonna get his, but for now, in these Finals, it's Duncan who's the real superstar.