Arnovitz: The unthinking brilliance of Tim Duncan
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com wrote this nice piece about San Antonio Spurs big man, Tim Duncan, a MUST read for Spurs fans.
Over the past quarter-century, the NBA has seen the Black Mamba, Larry Legend, His Airness, The Answer, The Truth, The Mailman, King James, Vinsanity, Flash and Magic.
But the Big Fundamental? If ever a nickname was assigned with a firm backhand, this is it.
Kobe Bryant attacks; Michael Jordan soars; Karl Malone delivers.
Tim Duncan? He's a large man who's really good at mechanics! While other stars transcend the game as superheroes, Duncan merely masters it as a craftsman.
An example: In the second possession of Game 4 against the Clippers, Duncan ran a little cross with Boris Diaw on the right side. Duncan's goal here? To upgrade his advantage against his defensive counterpart. Before crossing paths with Diaw, Duncan had 7-footer DeAndre Jordan fronting him. But after the subtle, little action, Duncan had the much shorter Blake Griffin.
Only that wasn't enough.
As the ball worked its way to the left side of the floor, Duncan followed it. Seeing Danny Green pressured against the sideline by Clippers guard Randy Foye, Duncan set a pick for Green on the high side. This not only allowed Green to wiggle out of trouble, but Duncan was also able to peel off to a couple of feet from his favorite spot off the left block -- and now with the 6-foot-4 Foye as his defender.
Duncan had turned the Clippers roster into matryoshka dolls. Every time he took apart one defender, a smaller one would appear.
Green ultimately dished the ball off to Duncan, who caught, squared, shot and swished. From the top of the key, Griffin watched the flight of the ball, stood still for a second, then retreated upcourt. Somehow, he got taken out of the play. But only 150-some-odd games into his career, Griffin could only process and learn.
"The way [Duncan] plays is so methodical, but at the same time he doesn't overthink the game," Griffin said after the game. "That's something I want to get to."
This was a very nuanced parallel Griffin constructed to describe what Duncan does on the court. We usually regard "method" as something that results from a great deal of thought, but here's Griffin drawing a distinction: For all of Duncan's technique, he rarely trips himself up with complexities. He rarely pauses, hedges or becomes paralyzed by choices.
Duncan has distilled the game down to its essentials. Play his left shoulder and he'll turn middle and devastate you with that running hook through the lane, or worse, take it all the way to the hole for the slam. Play his right shoulder and the bank is open.
You've seen all this thousands of times.
Read the complete article on ESPN.
(Photo via ESPN/NBA)