‘The Big Fundamental’ still has many bank shots left to make

You heard it time after time in recent years — San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan is old, creaky, and his time in the NBA is done. Yet time after time, Duncan proves he is still as effective as he was when he was dominating and racking up NBA titles.

The 15-year pro is looking like he picked up where Ponce de Leon left off and discovered the “Fountain of Youth” as he is averaging 14.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 46% field goal shooting in 28.6 minutes.

Not bad for a player many felt who’s NBA career was over.

But after having four NBA titles, countless All-Star appearances, two NBA MVP trophies, and much, much more, if you think he lost that competitive fire, think again. TD still wants more.

“I love playing,” Duncan told Yahoo! Sports. “I’m a competitor. So my enjoyment level is real high.”

Though the Spurs are clearly led by Tony Parker, much of the credit goes to Duncan and his play this season which has helped San Antonio to an impressive 38-14, just two games out of taking the top spot in the Western Conference.

But as much one can look to his NBA resume and just see the word “Hall of Fame bound” stamped all over it, perhaps TD’s greatest attribute is his selfless play, willingness to defer to other teammates for the greater good of the Spurs, and professionalism on and off the court.

Something Parker respects.

“That’s why I respect Timmy so much,” Parker said. “He’s an NBA star who is so unselfish. He doesn’t care if me or Manu [Ginobili] take shots and do our thing. He was willing because he knew to win championships we need everybody in. He was all about team concepts.”

Say what you will about Duncan and his “boring play” throughout the years but there is not doubting he is perhaps the best power forward the league has ever had. Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, and many other power forwards that came before Duncan can’t compete with what Duncan has done in his time in the NBA.

What will happen once Duncan retires is this — all those who railed on him for being “boring” in game and in personality will realize the NBA lost one of its greatest ambassadors of the game. A player who should have been the face of the NBA for years and not a player who televises his decision on where to play, a player who was accused of rape and with a reputation of being a “me-first” player, or a player who wants his head coach fired.

And once he retires, then, and only then, will fans of the NBA appreciate Duncan and what he meant to the league instead of doing it now.

Much like another big man the NBA failed to make the face of the league and fans appreciated only after he retired — Spurs’ legend David Robinson.