Culture of Hoops

What this NBA Finals means for Tim Duncan and LeBron James

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

The San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat will meet once again in the NBA Finals, where they will weave a blockbuster sequel that has the potential to be just as good as or even better than last year’s show. Hopefully this sequel will be a Terminator 2 type of deal, better than the first; let’s cross our fingers for another nail-biting seven game series!

Two big stars will meet once again: Tim Duncan and LeBron James. The Big Fundamental and King James, two future Hall of Famers that are going to go down in NBA history as two of the best that ever played the game. So, what will this NBA Finals mean for both men? They certainly want to add to their résumé, and add another ring to their jewelry boxes, but how will it affect their legacies?

Tim Duncan is probably the most fundamentally sound basketball player ever, hence the nickname, and he’s been chugging through for this long because he keeps it simple. He is the type of player that all ballers should watch, especially because the fundamentals are overlooked. At 38 years of age, he’s still putting up solid numbers: 15.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. Numbers and awards aren’t everything, but they speak the truth, and Duncan’s achievements are nothing short of amazing. He’s earned two regular season NBA MVP awards, three NBA Finals MVPs, and one All-Star game MVP. The man has been All-NBA First Team 10 times, and All-Defensive First Team eight times. He knows how to win, and he does it with a stoic face, like a quite assassin.

Duncan’s been a dominant big man for quite a while now, but if he earns his fifth ring, he may just be the best power forward in NBA history. Sure, one can argue that Karl Malone, Elvin Hayes, or Kevin McHale should bump Duncan off the number one spot. There are slightly better scorers and rebounds, but Duncan is simply the complete package and is just too heavy to bump off, especially if he throws another championship ring on top of his pile of accomplishments. Duncan is definitely ready for the Miami Heat, and he wanted this rematch from the get-go.

“We wanted the Heat. People keep talking about it like we weren’t close to winning it. We were ready last year, and we just couldn’t get over that hump. We’re happy to be back here this year, we’re happy to have another opportunity at it. We’re happy that it’s the Heat again,” Duncan told CBS Sports.

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

On the flip side, there’s King James. If James wins his third ring, and three-peats, he will join a handful of teams that have accomplished such a feat. Only the Minneapolis Lakers, the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls, and the Los Angeles Lakers have executed a three-peat. King James will add another ring to his hand and further his chase of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan’s collections. Even if he didn’t get the MVP this year, James certainly still plays like the MVP. In the post-season he’s averaging 27.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1.8 steals per game, all while shooting a whopping 56 percent from the floor. Getting a third championship means that the Jordan comparisons will be fired up again, making the stat-war a bit closer than last time, and people may even bring up that he’s better than the Black Mamba. Why? Well, Kobe Bryant wasn’t exactly the main man in the three-peat he was a part of. NBA fans will definitely attack that notion, trying to dilute Bryant’s legacy a bit.

In the version where LeBron James loses, his legacy may be dented. The three-peat chase would start all over again, and his amazing numbers this year won’t mean a thing in the moment where the San Antonio Spurs would be dousing each other in champagne. This series will not completely define his legacy, of course, but it will definitely affect it. James is keeping it cool with all this inevitable legacy talk.

“I couldn’t ask for more. This is an opportunity for me to do what I always wanted to do and that’s to continue to win championships. That’s what I’m here for,” James told USA Today.

The road to the gold begins, and two NBA titans are going to battle it out for a chance to add to their stories. James is the man in his prime trying to surpass the greats above him, and Duncan is the old veteran trying to get it done once more before time forces him to walk away. Both are already champions, but they keep chasing more because they don’t know how to do anything else but win.

Featured image by Josh Hallett/Flickr.

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