After a 104-93 overtime victory at the FedEx Forum, the San Antonio Spurs have a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals. San Antonio is one win away from making their fifth NBA Finals appearance in franchise history and also their fifth in fifteen seasons.
The one on the court constant during the Spurs run has been Tim Duncan. Many view the 14-time All-Star as the greatest power forward of all-time and adding another championship would be the cherry on top of his Hall-of-Fame career.
Hall of Famers Charles Barkley and Karl Malone are also considered by some to be the best four men in NBA history, but what separates Tim from those two greats is consistency. In each of Duncan’s sixteen seasons the Spurs have made the playoffs. In all but three of those seasons San Antonio advanced past the second round.
At 37 years young, Duncan is playing almost as good as he was in his prime ten seasons ago when he won his second championship.
Down big in the first quarter of game 3 of the Conference Finals, Duncan helped his team dig out of a double-digit hole to force overtime. In the extra session Duncan scored San Antonio’s first five points, seven overall, to put the Grizzlies away. Memphis now faces the impossible mission of trying to beat the Spurs four games in a row.
While the keys to the car were given to Spurs guard Tony Parker years ago, Tim Duncan is still the quiet leader of the team. His play in the Western Conference Finals has been inspiring to say the least. The 1998 Rookie of the Year is averaging 15.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2.6 blocks in three games against Memphis.
It’s been seven years since Tim Duncan last held up the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The last time the Spurs won the NBA championship they disposed of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in four straight games. Duncan will most likely be staring across the court against James again for all the marbles, only this time instead of being backed by Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden, James will be accompanied by Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
The quest for Duncan’s fifth NBA championship will be unlike any other. With all due respect to the ’99 Knicks, ’03 Nets, ’05 Pistons, and ’07 Cavs, Duncan and the Spurs have never faced a team as talented as the Miami Heat. At the same time, Duncan is 4-0 in the NBA Finals and ready to lay it all on the line in what’s likely to be his swan song.
“This is a special run for me,” Duncan told Yahoo Sports. “I really want to get this one done. I really want to get back to the Finals. I want to win another championship.”